Top 17 Movies About Photography in 2023

By Tata Rossi 9 days ago, Photography Tips

Every photographer should watch these movies about photography to improve their skills and gain a source of inspiration. There are many films dedicated to the art of photography and the stories of famous photographers that will be interesting to beginners and professionals.

Top 17 Movies About Photography

These movies are devoted to a variety of topics, from the birth of cinema to the present times. By watching them, you can learn more about great photographers and the industry itself.

1. Rear Window (1954)

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James Stewart plays co-leads with Grace Kelly in this classic Hitchcock thriller about a wheelchair-bound photographer who spies on his neighbors through the lens of his camera. In one of the episodes, he becomes convinced that he sees one of them committing murder.

The film received four Oscar nominations and is included in the IMDb list of the Top 250 films. The American Film Institute recognized it as one of the greatest thrillers in history.

2. Under Fire (1983)

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This war drama takes place in the last days of the dictatorial regime of the President Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979. The story tells us about war photojournalists. When working in the field, they try to comprehend the revolution through their photographs.

The most interesting fact is that this film is based on real events. It tells the story of the journalist Bill Stewart who was killed in 1979 by the Nicaraguan National Guard. The film received an Oscar nomination and two Golden Globe nominations.

3. Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White (1989)

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Born in 1904, Margaret Burke-White was the first foreign photographer who was allowed to take pictures of Soviet industry under the Soviet’s five-year plan. She was also the first woman in America to become a war photojournalist. Her photo graced the very first issue of the Life magazine.

This biography tells about her war years and her tumultuous relationship with the writer Erskine Caldwell. Right after its release, this movie became one of the highest-rated films on American television.

4. Pecker (1998)

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Pecker is a young guy from Baltimore who loves photography. He does not let go of his old camera, taking pictures of everything and everywhere: at work in a cafe, in transport, on the street, at home, in a store. After meeting a New York gallery agent, Pecker receives an offer to create an exhibition of his photos in New York.

His works impress the local elite, and they send him plenty of offers to hold exhibitions in the best galleries. However, Pecker refuses and decides that he will not stay in New York to impress the rich. He believes that they should come to his city instead.

5. The Eloquent Eye (1999)

best movies about photography the eloquent eye

This documentary tells the story of Alfred Stieglitz, who was one of the most influential photographers in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. Together with Edward Steichen and Alvin Langdon, he is considered to be one of those photographers whose works marked a turning point in the history of photography.

The film includes an interview with Stiglitz's wife Georgia O'Keeffe, who was his inspiration. Besides, this movie features rare footage from Stieglitz's personal archive.

6. Search for the Afghan Girl (2003)

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The picture of an Afghan girl with deep blue eyes is known not only among professionals but also among ordinary people. It was placed on the cover of National Geographic magazine and impressed the whole world with its depth.

However, who was this girl in real life? What did become of her? This documentary explains how the famous “Afghan Girl” was found and how her life turned out.

7. Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus (2006)

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Nicole Kidman plays the lead in this movie about a photographer Diane “Fur” Arbus. The film shows a lonely and shy housewife from New York setting off on a journey into the world of photography and capturing images of people outside of society.

In the early 1960s, her shocking works that portrayed people with physical deformities fundamentally changed the world of photography. However, the film does not focus on the details of Arbus’s life. It highlights the most important moment in her biography when she decided to stop working with her husband and start an independent career.

8.  Guest of Cindy Sherman (2008)

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During her career, the photographer Cindy Sherman played many roles and became a true master of disguise. In the art world, she made her debut with Film Stills. She took 69 black and white images to capture different situations that remind the scenes from famous films.

In The Guest of Cindy Sherman, the artist talks about her photographic role-playing and describes her thoughts on the creative process in detail.

9. Everlasting Moments (2008)

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This is a Swedish movie about a photographer who lived in wartime and won her camera in the lottery. The lead played by Maria Heiskanen is fond of photography. When everyone around her begins to appreciate her talent, local newspapers start buying her photos.

It’s the story of a regular woman who becomes a famous photographer. Besides, the film focuses on her personal life and tells us about the unhappy marriage with her tyrant husband, her relationship with children, and how she met her death under strange circumstances.

10. The Mexican Suitcase (2011)

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In 2007, long-lost pictures taken by Robert Capa and two other Civil War photographers, David Seymour and Gerda Taro, were found in Mexico City. The director Tricia Ziff invites viewers to unravel this mystery.

The plot focuses on more than 4,000 film negatives taken during the Spanish Civil War. A viewer can trace the “journey” of images from their disappearance at the beginning of World War II to their re-discovery in 2007. The interviews also cover political and personal stories of that era.

11.  We'll Take Manhattan (2012)

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This British photography movie is based on actual events. It tells about the romantic relationship between the photographer David Bailey (Aneurin Barnard) and the model Jean Shrimpton (Karen Gillan) during a week-long photographic assignment in New York for Vogue in 1962.

In the movie, you will see the images from the original shoot recreated with the help of props and computer-generated graphics. The film shows how this couple has turned the world of fashion photography upside down.

12.  Bill Cunningham New York (2012)

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Bill Cunningham (1929-2016) was a fashion photographer for The New York Times who was widely recognized for his street photography. He collaborated with many celebrities and took thousands of shots.

This film tells how Bill worked in his studio, at home, and in the office. The story is told by his friends and colleagues: Tom Wolfe, David Rockefeller, Brooke Astor, and Anna Wintour from Vogue. This is an uplifting movie about a person’s passion for their calling.

13. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

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Walter Mitty is an illustration department employee who works for an American magazine. When the management decides to print the last issue of the magazine, the editorial office is set to cut jobs and make Walter redundant.

The only chance to keep the job is to find Sean O'Connell, a famous film photographer and convince him to take a cover photo for the last printed issue of the magazine. However, he does not use a telephone and travels around the world. Will Walter be able to find him?

14.  Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

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Although Vivianne Meyer is now considered one of the best street photographers in history, she was practically unknown during her lifetime and preferred to remain in the shadows. Only after her death, an archive of over 100,000 pictures was discovered.

This is one of the best movies about photography because it has brought together many facts about her life and revealed the fact that even the people closest to her did not know who she was. It is a great film about an important part of the history of photography and the person who was able to change it.

15.  Annie Leibovitz «Life Through A Lens» (2013)

best movies about photography annie leibovitz «life through a lens»

Annie Leibovitz is a portrait photographer who has taken photos of Mick Jagger, John Lennon, George Clooney, Nelson Mandela, and many other celebrities and politicians. In this movie, you will learn more about her life through the stories of the people she has worked with.

Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Keira Knightley, Whoopi Goldberg, and Kirsten Dunst will tell the audience about the photographer's work. The documentary also includes footage taken by Leibovitz. It was directed by her sister Barbara.

16.  Mapplethorpe (2018)

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The American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) who specialized in portrait photography was one of the first to convince the audience that photography can be considered art. He went down in history as one of the first photographers who started talking about homoeroticism and the BDSM subculture.

The movie stars Matt Smith, the actor from The Crown. You will learn about the major milestones in Mapplethorpe’s life, from his relationship with Patti Smith to his untimely death. Also, the film tells how the photographer had to defend his work against the accusations of obscenity.

17.  The Photographer of Mauthausen (2018)

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This Spanish movie starring Mario Casas is based on the true story of the Spanish Civil War veteran Francisco Boix. He was imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen, where he was forced to take pictures of prisoners.

However, Francisco secretly took pictures of the conditions in the camp, then saved and hid them. With his comrades, he repeatedly risked his life to save the negatives and reveal the atrocities committed at Mauthausen to the whole world.