Some professions are commonly used as plot devices — how many times have we seen the single female writer gallivanting through films? There are others that are rarely depicted. One such field is photography. In spite of the fact that film and photo have a great deal in common, there are relatively few movies about photography, or featuring photographers. But there are some!
FINDING VIVIAN MAIER
The story of Vivian Maier is one of the most remarkable I've ever come across, either in photography or elsewhere. Though she's now considered one of the best street photographers in history, in her life, she was essentially unknown, and that was by her own doing. It was only after her death that an archive of over 100,000 photographs were discovered in a stroke of luck and her genius was uncovered. This fascinating documentary pieces together as much of her life as it possibly can and also reveals the fact that even those closest to her didn't completely know who she was. It's an excellent look at both an important piece of photographic history and a fascinating human being.
"Rear Window" is a movie everyone should see, not just photographers. Arguably Hitchcock's best demonstration of his complete command of suspense, it does a masterful job of tapping into our natural curiosity and desire to watch the lives of others from a distance, only to play on our feelings of dread and helplessness when the faraway events suddenly land on our doorstep. Normally highly mobile photographer L.B. Jeffries breaks his leg and is confined to a wheelchair, and he passes the time watching his neighbors through his telephoto lens. While he mostly ends up spying on middling, everyday dramas, his keen photographer instincts and obsession with his neighbors' lives make him convinced he's uncovered a murder, setting into motion a series of dramatic events and one of the most fantastic climaxes in the history of film. Plus, it's a film featuring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. What more could you ask for?
For over 20 years, photojournalist James Nachtwey has been visiting war-torn countries such as Kosovo and Rwanda, capturing the destruction on film. While merely an observer, he still feels the immediate effects of the ravaged lands. The stark images are contrasted by Nachtwey's calm reserve as he fends off accusations of exploiting tragedy. Director Christian Frei attaches a small video camera to Nachtwey's still camera for a bird's-eye view of destruction, pain, and ultimately, hope
ONE HOUR PHOTO
Robin Williams was of course known for his tremendous comedic talents, but he also possessed impressive dramatic range, and perhaps nowhere else is this better on display than in "One Hour Photo." It's a grippingly tense thriller about a lonely photo lab technician who becomes delusional and obsessed with a family whose photos he develops and begins stalking them, eventually snapping when he uncovers a reality that doesn't fit into the idealistic fantasy he's built around them. It's well worth watching.
Martin, a blind man, takes pictures of the places described by people and labels them in Braille. While he enjoys the attention his maid Celia gives him, things change when Andy enters his life.