Photography and movies have fused together on many occasions. While it’s fair to say the results have sometimes been mixed, there have also been great photography films and there’s no doubt a photographer’s life makes for interesting subject matter. To celebrate this, we’ve put together a Top Ten List of films that either feature note-worthy cameras or revolve around the subject of a photographer at work. So, get ready to geek out and enjoy a mammoth binge-watching session – don’t forget to let us know if we’ve missed out any of your top photography-related films….
1 One Hour Photo (2002)
Robin Williams cast aside his comedy image to play the dark and disturbed main protagonist who manages a photo processing lab in a supermarket by day, but stalks by night. Along with the thrilling plotline, photography fans will appreciate the big Agfa processing machines and endless prints. Not one to watch with the kids, but a great film nonetheless. Watch the trailer here.
2 BlowUp (1966)
One of the quintessential photography films and, although it may be hard to believe, BlowUp is now 51 years old. The plot revolves around a fashion photographer who is convinced he’s captured a murder on film. Throw in plenty of models and 1960’s style and it’s no wonder the film became a classic of its time. Fact; actor David Hemmings used both a Nikon F and a Hasselblad medium format camera during filming and promotional shots. Watch the trailer here.
3 The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (2013)
Ben Stiller walks the audience through the beauty of Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan’s landscape as he tries to track down fictitious Life Magazine photographer, Sean o‘Connell, played by Sean Penn. Photographers will appreciate a scene where Sean is trying to capture images of a Snow Leopard using a rather impressive prime telephoto lens paired with a retro Nikon SLR. Watch the scene here.
4 Under Fire (1983)
The high-octane thriller from the early Eighties starred Nick Nolte as a photographer working on assignment during the last days of the Nicaraguan Revolution. The movie was inspired by the real-life murder of an American reporter and was actually filmed around Mexico. Nolte uses a Nikon F2 in the movie and keener photographers will note it’s fitted with a motor drive grip. Watch the trailer here.
5 Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubrick’s epic Vietnam-era movie was actually largely filmed around the disused docklands of London. Main protagonist ‘Private Joker’ makes it through the brutality of Marine Corps training only to be deployed to the arena of war. Working as a photographer for Stars & Stripes, scenes show Joker working with a Nikon F SLR. The camera was made famous during the Vietnam conflict by real-life war photographer, Don McCullin, who was protected from a bullet by his own Nikon F. A feature film about McCullin’s life is reportedly in the works. Watch the trailer here.
6 Lost In Translation (2003)
Scarlett Johansson stars as the girlfriend of a photographer on assignment in Tokyo. While left in her hotel, the isolated soul meets Bill Murray’s character, a fading actor in the city to film a whisky commercial. Viewers are treated to Johansson’s boyfriend (played by Giovanni Ribisi) packing and repacking a huge collection of film SLRs and prime lenses. Though a Pentax shoulder strap is visible, if you freeze frame it looks like the cameras have been debadged. The movie was shot mostly on an Aaton 35mm film camera, and perhaps shines a light on what a photographer’s other half has to put up with while they’re on shooting assignments. Watch the trailer here.
7 Into The Wild (2007)
The revealing biopic chronicles the travels of American Christopher McCandless, who in the early 1990’s trekked into the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless used a Canon film camera to take over 500 photos on his journeys, including poignant self-portraits in front of an abandoned bus he used for shelter and eventually perished in due to starvation. The McCandless family support a website showcasing Christopher’s travel images to this day, which can be found here.
8 Spiderman 3 (2007)
In truth, we could have picked any Spiderman film as ‘Spidey’s’ alter-ego Peter Parker is forever toting a camera during his work as a photographer for The Daily Bugle in Metropolis. In the 2007 film, Tobey Maguire’s Parker is seen using a Nikon D50 (extra points if you noticed he remembered to add the hood to his lens).
9 Closer (2004)
Shot in and around London and based on the play of the same name, the movie tells the story of two couples whose lives intertwine. Julia Roberts plays an American photographer, and many scenes are set within her portrait studio where she captures her subjects with a tripod mounted medium format camera, before switching to use a Leica M6 handheld! Watch the trailer here.
10 Under An Arctic Sky (2017)
One for photography purists, this 40-minute short film was created by the amazing travel and sports photographer, Chris Burkard. The movie, which played in theatres around the world, records the adventures of Chris and his pro-surfer buddies as they search for the perfect wave in the beautiful but rugged wilderness of Iceland. The quest is partially interrupted by the worst storm to hit Iceland in a quarter of a century and in the Director’s Commentary, Burkard gives a mass of information about the cameras (and drones) that were used on the journey, including a Sony A7II paired with a 24-70mm. Watch the trailer here.