As a Photographer, You Need to Watch These 5 Movies, Both New and Old

As the weather becomes increasingly chilly in the fall, many of us tend to spend more time indoors. This is especially true in places that receive a significant amount of precipitation, such as Munich and London. One of the many things that I look forward to doing during the course of each year is watching a movie while relaxing with a warm beverage, such as mulled wine or spiced tea.

You might be looking forward to seeing something on this list that is comparable to “Finding Vivian Maier,” but unfortunately, you won’t. These movies were chosen not just because they are biopics of well-known photographers but also because of something else entirely.

I made an effort to give this list an original spin on things, given there are thousands of other articles on photography-related websites that provide recommendations for movies. In addition, I am a firm believer that one should specialize in a certain area of photography while still developing a well-rounded personality. As a result, it is a good idea to draw motivation from as many different sources as is humanly feasible — or at the very least, something that isn’t the isolated world of photography.

1. Barry Lyndon

1. Barry Lyndon

My weakness lies in Stanley Kubrick’s body of work. He is a brilliant master who is capable of composing photos, telling a story, and evoking feelings deep inside the audience. It is almost as though he examines human characteristics more closely than usual in order to issue a warning to the public about something. Barry Lyndon will demonstrate to a photographer that one does not require anything more advanced than the fundamentals.

In point of fact, all that is required of you is to light the shot and master the most fundamental aspects of photography. The remaining details will be handled by themselves. This may be seen most clearly in the way that Kubrick is able to express every detail through the screen, including shifts in weather, mood, texture, and a great many other things, not to mention the way that he zooms in. I really wish that I had the ability to zoom in like that!

2. Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a novel by Stanley Kubrick

2. Dr. Strangelove Or

If you are someone who likes movies that are shot in black and white, you should definitely check out this one. You should pay special attention to the manner in which Stanley Kubrick manipulates the mood on screen by adjusting the lighting and the composition of the shots. While you are viewing this movie, it is important for you to pay attention to the degrees of contrast as well as the severity of the shadows.

It appears as though Kubrick is capable of creating things with light and shadow on their own. This may be seen most clearly shortly before Strangelove delivers his last speech. Strangelove is always moving in and out of the light. The progression of Strangelove from the shadows into the light is analogous to the maturation of nationalism in the country at that time.

Grand Budapest Hotel

Color, wide-angle lenses, and cropped formats are all important. The unmistakably distinctive color choices that Wes Anderson makes throughout this film will make this movie intriguing to photographers. Because the film takes place in two separate decades—the 1930s and the 1960s—the color palette is noticeably different in each decade. Observe, while you watch the movie, how the decade of the 1930s has a pinkish hue and seems to have a chillier atmosphere in comparison to the decade of the 1960s, which is mostly orange and brown in color.

The use of wide perspectives on photos that are taken straight on creates an immersive atmosphere. When you consider that both high and low photos were taken with a wide-angle lens, it begs the question: how on earth did they manage to create that composition? The solution is uncomplicated: crop file formats. There are three of them throughout the movie, and each one depicts a different period of time. It’s possible that The Grand Budapest Hotel can also serve as a tutorial in wide-angle composition.

3. Blade Runner 2049

3. Blade Runner 2049

If you want to explore color theory on a level that is unparalleled, Blade Runner 2049 is a wonderful pick that you should consider if you haven’t previously watched it. It is thought that each hue has a tale to tell, much in the same way that each piece of music has a recurring pattern. It’s possible to connect a character with a certain shade of color or atmosphere of illumination.

These colors are yellow, orange, green, pink, and white in the world of Blade Runner 2049. Pantone on Fashion is a great resource to have if you’re interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the psychological underpinnings of each tone, particularly in relation to fashion. But let’s get back to the movies.

We can see from the movie Blade Runner that the color yellow is connected with wisdom, the color orange with a warning, the color green with life, the color pink with innocence and romance, and the color white with the truth.

Because each shade, with the exception of yellow, is already identified with its meaning, there isn’t a lot of investigation that has to be done as to why these colors were picked. If you have any idea why Deakins chose the color yellow to represent knowledge, please share it with us in the comments section.

4. Moonlight

4. Moonlight

The challenges that a young guy goes through in an LGBTQ+ and black community are depicted in this film, which is quite moving and, at times, quite devastating. Through its use of color, light, and composition, the movie strives to create an aesthetically pleasing nightmare. While the tones of this film are agreeable to the ear and gorgeous to behold, they do reveal a very unsettling sight.

It challenges the boundaries of contrast, which might serve as a useful lesson for those of you who like to add additional contrast to the photos that you create. In order to create an effect that was similar to the sun that shines over Miami, the movie had to depict highlights and shadows that were clipped and shiny.

The majority of the film was shot with very little or no fill light at all. As photographers, we are often reminded to make advantage of fill light; nevertheless, it’s possible that this technique isn’t always required. The color grading is another fascinating facet of Moonlight that stands out.

Because of the strong contrast that was utilized, the colorist did not have a great deal of leeway to experiment with the color grade. Nevertheless, the stills from this movie might serve as useful guides for color when creating your own photographs.

5. Grand Budapest Hotel

5. Grand Budapest Hotel

Color, wide-angle lenses, and cropped formats are all important. The unmistakably distinctive color choices that Wes Anderson makes throughout this film will make this movie intriguing to photographers. Because the film takes place in two separate decades—the 1930s and the 1960s—the color palette is noticeably different in each decade. Observe, while you watch the movie, how the decade of the 1930s has a pinkish hue and seems to have a chillier atmosphere in comparison to the decade of the 1960s, which is mostly orange and brown in color.

A Few Parting Thoughts

Only a few of my personal favorites are listed here. In point of fact, this is only the first item on a very lengthy list. When you are viewing a movie, it is important that you pay attention to a variety of details, including the color, the attire, the viewpoint, and many other things.

After all, they are nothing more than moving photos, although it must be a lot more difficult to produce excellent shots at a rate of 24 per second over an extended period of time than it is to acquire a single decent image in an hour.

I am aware that some photographers won’t find this list to be especially appealing. To such photographers, I say: if you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments! I’m curious in the films that you find yourself watching over and over again, whether it’s because of the story they tell, the way they look, or for some other reason. Please share your thoughts with me.

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