Movies about Photography              


This past week my wife commented to some evening guests that I always have something to say about any camera that one appears in a TV show.

Yes, I do that. I can tell her I am sorry for interrupting movies she is watching, but I’ll just do it again the next time I see an actor with a camera.

I enjoy watching movies about photographers. I guess the number one classic was “Blow Up” in 1966, staring Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings. The plot was about a fashion photographer that takes some casual shots of people while he walks through a park. However, when he blows up his prints he realizes he’s also photographed a murder. It is a worthwhile “time period” movie to watch if one is interested in what was “hip” in 1966 and likes symbolism.

I have seen it several times and enjoy critiquing the photography, and the cumbersome way the lead actor uses his Nikon. The stylish photographer kept enlarging, cropping, and enlarging the prints from his 35mm camera. Impossibly, the prints were always sharp and without any grain.

Another of my favourites was an awkward movie called “Nights in White Satin”. The story line was weak, but one has to watch a movie with a title and lead song by the Moody Blues. The music throughout was pretty good, and made up for the simplistic story revolving around a photographer who gets involved with a homeless woman.

The photographer tooled around on a Harley Davidson, used a Leica rangefinder, and, in spite of hurriedly taking pictures in dimly lit flophouses and back alleys the resulting pictures were always perfectly exposed with studio lighting. Of course, the woman living on the street was beautiful, well washed, and used makeup.

The third and last movie I’ll mention was packed with delightful clichés. It would be forgetful if not for those.

It was a made-for-TV British show entitled “Midsomer Murders”. The director sets his main characters, a couple of detectives, investigating the murders of camera club members.

The members were at odds over which technology is better, film or digital. The club members who used film had old Rolleiflexes, Leicas, and wooden 4×5 cameras, and all wore those campy, khaki-coloured, photography vests with all the pockets we occasionally see from time to time. The club members that preferred digital DSLRs had electronic flashes, and wore black leather jackets with black pants.

The directors must have had fun searching out every photo cliché imaginable, and, those of us old enough to remember film processing will laugh at the darkroom scene, where one fellow developed and printed colour film in a brightly lit room with what could only have been black and white chemicals in a tray.

I am a sucker for any movie or TV show that involves photography. They usually are poorly done, and I am sure I ruin it for anyone unfortunate enough to be in the same room because I am so vocal about everything photographic.

I do have a great time and can’t resist outbursts pointing out everything right or wrong (gosh, my wife is so patient) however, I expect some readers may share my enthusiasm and I am sure are thinking of movies with cameras that they critiqued out loud.

I wonder if there is a group called Photography Movie Addicts Anonymous?

18 responses to “Movies about Photography              

  1. I watched “Blow-up” many times. I enjoyed it at the time, although I haven’t seen it for many a long year and would probably find it dated now. I particularly liked the way he slowly zooms in to make his discovery – almost like an actual photographer, having found the perfect subject, really works the scene to find the best composition.
    Good reading John!


    • Thanks Derek, The first time I watched “Blow Up” I was in the Army and mostly paid attention to the women. But years later when I was working as a photographer for the Office of Education in Los Angeles. I do remember wishing I could get a 35mm camera with that kind of clarity.


  2. It’s a long time since I saw Blow-up and can’t remember it very well, the others I’ve been fortunate enough to miss 🙂 Fun post N-man 🙂 (My hubby does the same thing with tanks & uniforms in war movies~lots of pause and rewinds! 🙄)


  3. Funny, I watch for that too. The saddest moment for me was when Lois Lane bounces a lovely Nikon D3S, complete with Nikkor 24-7-mm f/2.8, and SB600 (yes, I noticed that too) across the floor and breaks it at 40:37 in 2013 movie “The Man of Steel”. I thought to myself, why would a reporter, sent to the arctic for a story, use a D3S with that glass? We are a strange lot 🙂


  4. Have you seen the movie “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”? There is a bit of a photography theme to it, and beautiful scenery from some amazing landscapes of the world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.