5 Documentaries about Photographers to Watch Now

By Tan Lee Kuen (writer and photographer/Malaysia)

Looking to up your photography game? Watch these 5 videos to get a glimpse of how the masters work

Photographers bring scenes to audience, and it’s easy to dismiss their works as “easy” or “I can do that, too”. Little do most people know that photographers sometime have to go the extra mile or put in additional effort just for one image. These 5 documentaries will shed light on how some of the most esteemed photographers work, their frame of mind and the results.

Editor’s note: Most of the links are to the trailer or teaser on Youtube. You may be able to find the DVD or Blu-ray version on Amazon or your local video retailer.

The Salt of the Earth

Acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders turns his camera on the equally acclaimed photographer Sebastião Salgado in this thoughtful visual portrait. Made in collaboration with the photographer’s son Ribeiro Salgado, it offers an intimate look at the life and work of the elder Salgado, who has spent the past 40 years documenting Earth and the human condition.

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OivMlWXtWpY

Bill Cunningham New York

Billed the godfather of street fashion photography, Bill Cunningham spent decades chronicling the New York style. He would ride his bicycle wearing his trademark blue jacket, camera around his neck, discreetly spotting and photographing fashion on the streets. This interesting documentary is about his work and also of an obsessive photographer driven by his passion.

Watch the trailer: https://vimeo.com/19115891

Annie Liebovitz: Life Through a Lens

Annie Liebovitz is one of the most commercially successful female photographers today. Originally famous for her work for Rolling Stone, she is now a regular contributor to the likes of Vogue US, where she has constructed some of the magazine’s most grandiose and meticulously crafted shoots. This documentary takes us behind-the-scenes of one of her shoots with the magazine, as she shares her artistic process and snippets of her personal life.

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEjho8I8XBY

Which Way is the Front Line From Here?

Tim Hetherington was a young, promising English photojournalist who lost his life covering the war in Libya in 2011. This film by Sebastian Junger is an affectionate and affecting tribute to the life of an impassioned photographer and journalist, while exploring the nature of work in conflict areas and the consequences that it can have.

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEpIiAL6y8M

Finding Vivian Maier

The tale of Vivian Maier is the stuff of photography fairy tales: An unassuming nanny gaining posthumous fame as one of this age’s greatest street photographers. Vivian Maier spent her days looking after her young cares, but was also obsessively photographing out on her streets. She never exhibited her work, storing away thousands of negatives and rolls of undeveloped film in storage, which only came to light after her death. This story is a compelling reconstruction of this mysterious and private photographer.

Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o2nBhQ67Zc

Tan Lee Kuen

She is a writer and photographer from Malaysia. She is also the founder of Asia PaperCamera, an online project celebrating photography in Asia with stories and interviews.

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