Capturing Life Through a Lens

Photography Documentaries

Documentary photography can be a powerful way to capture and share life’s moments. From weddings to surprise engagements, documentary photos can convey emotion and be a lasting heirloom.

This absorbing film explores Nachtwey’s work and the ethics behind it. It also raises questions about professionalism and fearlessness. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in photography.

The Salt of the Earth

One of the most breathtaking, absorbing documentaries of this or any year, Salt of the Earth is a quiet mixture of black and white photographs from renowned photographer Sebastiao Salgado along with colorful movie footage directed and co-directed by his son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. The film offers a unique insight into the ethos of the man behind the camera and into photography itself.

The documentary focuses on Salgado’s 40 years of work as a photojournalist. He chronicled humanity in its ugliest forms, from the genocide in Rwanda to starvation in Africa and the Kuwait oil fire to mass migrations around the world.

But after decades of seeing the worst of humanity, he started his Genesis project, traveling to some of the last unspoiled places on the planet to capture the beauty of nature. The resulting images are a visual symphony of emotion and story. The film, while not without its flaws (it could have been more enlightening about how the shots are made), is still a stunning and rewarding tribute to a great artist.

Smash His Camera

A fascinating documentary about a controversial celebrity photographer. This HBO film focuses on the life of Ron Galella who was known for going to extreme lengths to get photographs of celebrities. Galella’s persistence in snapping pictures of the well-known and famous often landed him in trouble, such as when former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy took out restraining orders against him after he started stalking her. Galella’s obsession with getting the money shots also led to clashes with legendary actor Marlon Brando who punched him and broke his nose.

Despite being somewhat of a hagiography and oversimplifying many of its subjects, Smash His Camera is still an engaging documentary. It is a great look at the paparazzi lifestyle and it will certainly leave you with some interesting discussion points to think about. This film also raises the ethical questions of a celebrity’s right to privacy and how far a paparazzi should go to get those photos.

Annie Leibovitz: A Life in Pictures

If you’re a photography enthusiast then you must have heard of Annie Leibovitz, one of the most famous (and highly paid) photographers in the world. In this documentary we get an insight into her incredible career.

The film chronicles her professional work from the early days of Rolling Stone magazine and her time at Vanity Fair and Vogue, through to her more personal images of family and friends. Throughout her career Leibovitz has blurred the lines between commercial and fine art, documenting counterculture musicians and showcasing a more theatrical staging in her portraiture.

Many of the people interviewed in this documentary speak about their experience working with her and what it is that makes her photographs so unique. They say that she has a way of putting her stamp on every shoot and making sure it is perfect, no matter what it takes. This definitely shows through her work. Her images are always on point and capture a true sense of the subject.

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