6 Outstanding Documentary Movies About Photography

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This week we prepared for you 6 documentary movies about photography. It is our effort to help inspire you as a photographer, and help you to learn more about the craft. There’s some truly fantastic artists featured in this list. Enjoy.

Ordinary Miracles: The Photo Leagues New York

This chronicles the life of the Photo League, a legendary organization of amateur and professional photographers that flourished in New York in the years 1936-1951. The film tells the story of the rise and politically motivated fall of the Photo League, which for fifteen years served as the center of the documentary movement in American photography. The Photo League’s credo was: social change could be achieved through documentary photography and an emotional connection with one’s subject, and a great photographer had to capture the subtext of a deeply felt human moment on film. The black-and-white analog pictures by the League’s members are truly breathtaking and are the real heritage of American photography.

Everybody Street 

This documentary follows 13 iconic NYC street photographers including Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt, Jill Freedman, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, Rebecca Lepkoff, Mary Ellen Mark, Jeff Mermelstein, Clayton Patterson, Ricky Powell, Jamel Shabazz, Martha Cooper, and Boogie. Exploring New York City, photographers captured the countless scenes of daily life and the dark (and often dangerous) side of this city. You can feel the real spirit of urban photography through a cinematic exploration of New York. If you have already watched “Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League’s New York», this will be a great continuation of it. 

Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light

This 90 minute documentary tells the story of Richard Avedon, the son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant who became one of the most important and innovative photographers in the 20th century fashion world. Beginning with his work in the postwar Paris fashion scene, the documentary follows Avedon’s brilliant, 50-year career. With an intimate blend of biographical information, Avedon’s black-and-white pictures, and his commentary upon them, the film tells his story behind the scenes of the fashion Richard Avedon discusses his work with celebrities such as Katharine Hepburn, Nastassja Kinski, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Twiggy, revealing the secrets of many of his most famous pictures. Also the film contains interviews with actress Isabella Rosselini, critic Max Kozloff, fashion editor Harper’s Bazaar Polly Mellen, and others.

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

«Life Through a Lens» is a a wonderful journey through the life of iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz, from her time spent documenting the world of music at Rolling Stone Magazine to her portraiture at Vanity Fair and Vogue. It’s a rare chance to gain insight into the methods of this genius of photography, particularly the one who seems to have captured the image of pretty much every important person on the planet. In this documentary you will learn the thought processes behind some of her legendary pictures of Meryl Streep, Jim Carrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Lennon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demi Moore, George Clooney, and others. 

Peter Lindbergh: A Portrait

The documentary ‘A Portrait’ is about a great master of analog black and white portraits, Peter Lindbergh. The film tells the story of the process of his work with classic fashion photos and great portraits of actresses and supermodels such as Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Kate Moss, and Amber Valletta. Having captured the most notable figures in the industry, Lindbergh’s indelible photographs go beyond the iconography of the “supermodel”. With a seductively intimate style and approach, his portraits reveal the inner truth and the real beauty in his subjects. This documentary is a real inspiration for beginners in the world of photography, and for professionals.

Bill Cunningham New York

In the documentary “Bill Cunningham New York,” a pioneer of street style photography celebrates his 80th birthday. Every day of his life, he still pedals around Manhattan on his bicycle, taking photographs of what people are wearing. At social events and openings, at street fairs and parades, and in parks and markets. Bill Cunningham is not a “fashion photographer” or “paparazzo.” He is a photographer of people and what they wear to feel good. He has been famous for many years for doing this, and his work has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, and the original Details magazine. These days, you can find his columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” in the New York Times. «We all get dressed for Bill» – the words of Anna Wintour. In addition to an interview with the editor-in-chief of Vogue, the film contains interviews with Iris Apfel, Tom Wolfe, Brooke Astor, and others.

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