Photography Documentaries

Photography Documentary

Photography Documentaries

Artists are often private people. Some of the world’s most famous photographers do everything in their power to hide from the spotlight. The rest of us are left wondering about these artists’ circumstances and secrets. Thanks to photography documentaries, we are able to peek inside the fascinating lives of the best photographers of both the past and the present. Here are five documentaries about photographers that inspire greatness.

The Many Lives of William Klein

Artist, street photographer, fashion photographer, and film director William Klein has never been afraid to do what he wants to do. The Many Lives of William Klein tells the story of this groundbreaking photographer who took raw images of 1950s street life in ways that were unprecedented. His originality is evident in all of his work, from fashion photography in the style of street photography to films that challenged social norms. This BBC documentary follows Klein from Paris to Manhattan as he talks about the many jobs and projects he’s completed in his lifetime.

Finding Vivian Maier

This new film has caused a stir of excitement among street photographers. Vivian Maier was an eccentric and somewhat reclusive nanny who, in a secret life, created artful photographs of street life in Chicago and New York. It wasn’t until recently, when a storage locker containing a stash of her photographic negatives and prints was auctioned off, that she was discovered. Finding Vivian Maier highlights Maier’s brilliant photographs and pieces her intriguing life together using anecdotes from friends and acquaintances.

Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks

An artist of many trades, Gordon Parks excelled as a photographer, novelist, journalist, poet, musician, and filmmaker. Half Past Autumn touches on Gordon’s numerous talents, highlighting his provocative photography, which evidenced his dedication to social justice. Gordon was the first African American to work for Life magazine, where he was a photojournalist for more than twenty years. Released several years before Parks’s death in 2006, this revealing documentary lets us hear the influential artist’s story in his own words.

The President’s Photographer

Chief Official White House photographer, Pete Souza, quietly follows Barack Obama’s daily life as US president, revealing details that most people wouldn’t see without his photographs. In this film, Souza discusses the challenges and rewards of his job. He must constantly be present while also blending into the surroundings. He shoots constantly, since he never knows which moment or day will bring a defining moment that he must capture. The President’s Photographer goes behind the scenes with this successful photojournalist and other past and present White House photographers as they document history.

Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens

Known for her work with Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, photographer Annie Leibovitz is a celebrity photographer who has been called a master of portrait photography. Produced and directed by the photographer’s sister, this intimate 2008 documentary traces Leibovitz’s career and personal life through insightful commentary by the artist herself, as well as through interviews with some of her subjects.

Watching documentaries about photographers is an easy way to spur creativity. These are just a few of our favorites. What are your top five documentaries about photographers?


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Profile photo of Nicoal Price About Nicoal Price

​Nicoal is a New England photographer with a penchant for learning. Her work ranges from nature-inspired portraiture to outdoor product photography. Visit for more info.

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