Them and Their Cameras: Male Photographers in the Movies


"There was once a photographer who captured murder in his photographs." "A young boy from Rio de Janeiro grew up in a violent neighborhood and then he became a photojournalist." "Another photographer, the one with a broken leg, once witnessed a killing through his telephoto lens." Sounds familiar? No? You might need to watch these films first!

In our ongoing **Best of the Best** series, we have already featured some of the greatest photographers in history and most of them belong to the masculine kind, such as Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Robert Capa, and Yoshiyuki Iwase.

Today, let’s get into the movies and take a look at these actors, holding their majestic cameras, who role-played as shutter-heads. It is quite hard to decipher what kind of cameras they were using (you might know them so feel free to share with us!) but without further ado, here are the film stills of some men and their analogue cameras. (Some of these movies were fiction and others were based on real events.)

Dennis Hopper as a photojournalist in Apocalypse Now, 1979

image via

David Hemmings as Thomas in Blow-Up, 1966

image via dobbscinemablog

Alexandre Rodrigues as Rocket in City of God, 2002

image via

Edward Furlong as Pecker in Pecker, 1998

image via makedo-and-mend

James Stewart as L. B. Jeffries in Rear Window, 1954 (see also: Alfred Hitchcock)

image via

James Woods as Richard Boyle and John Savage as John Cassady in Salvador, 1986

image via

Which of these fictional photographers do you like most and why? What other films portray stories about male photographers? Perhaps you can find a film still of them and their cameras, too? Share it with us a comment below.

written by basterda on 2011-05-03 in #lifestyle #male-photographers #in-films #in-movies #them-and-their-cameras-series


  1. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    Blow up is soooo bad! The Rear Window camera looks like an Exakta of some varient or other!

  2. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    i loved blow-up! genious film

  3. duckduckninja
    duckduckninja ·

    Richard Boyle isn't actually a fictional character, he was originally going to play himself in the film, very interesting guy. Great film, really set the tone for Stone's career.

  4. crocodil_fotografic
    crocodil_fotografic ·

    You must watch Pecker. Story about a talented photoghrapher which clashes amusingly with the art world. More about it here: :)

    By the way, no female photographers to be discussed?

  5. scorpie
    scorpie ·

    - Wim Wender's "Palermo Shooting" with Campino as Finn: (I'm kind of indifferent, can't say I really liked it, but it's sort of worth a watch anyway, if that makes sense. Not sure about the cameras, but they were old and analogue (might've been Mamyia and Hasselblad, I can't remember))…
    - Anton Corbijn's "The American" with George Clooney as Jack - okay, I admit this is cheating, Jack only pretends to be a photographer, but he waves a big Nikon with a huge lens around once or twice.

  6. crocodil_fotografic
    crocodil_fotografic ·

    Oops, now I see that Pecker was already on the list! Well, I'll add a mixed gender movie then :)
    Born Into Brothels: Calcutta's Red Light Kids
    Inspirational, truly! And very lomo as well.

  7. nural
    nural ·

    Palermo Shooting was amazing, I think! I loved the relation they portrayed with death... but I kinda got bored in Pecker...

  8. stickyvinny
    stickyvinny ·

    I'm loving this article! :D

  9. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson shooting with a Leica M7 in Vicky Christina Barcelona
    ...pure camera sex!

  10. disasterarea
  11. conde
    conde ·

    @scorpie: The reason they are all male is that the great majority, if not all of these movies is about male voyerism with the camera as a stand-in for their inability to "perform". In Rear Window the main character is crippled by an accident, and is therefore powerless in his manhood. He makes up for it by staring out the window at his neighbors instead of hanging out with the beautiful Grace Kelly. In City of God the main protagonist Rocket is as powerless as they come. All the other kids have guns, money and power. All Rocket has is his camera that makes up for his inadequacies as a male and his inability to "score." Note that his luck with the females turns around after one of his pictures ends up in the front page of the newspapers. And on and on and on.. if you analyze every single one of these movies you will find the same pattern male voyeurism/Sexual inadequacy/Camera as a crutch to make up for it. Still, good selection

  12. icomewhenieatcaponata
    icomewhenieatcaponata ·

    i hated palermo shooting aha..was so silly:)

  13. neurodiaz
    neurodiaz ·

    City of God is incredible, I highly recommend it. :)

  14. neurodiaz
    neurodiaz ·

    City of God is incredible, I highly recommend it. :)

  15. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    @conde good analysis!

  16. conde
    conde ·

    @disasterarea Thank! It's always good to remember these films are about more than just guys and their cameras. Good catch on Vicky Christina... I was wrecking my brain trying to think of films that feature female photographers. I am still trying to think of films where the female protagonist and camera are front and center.

  17. bkyoung
    bkyoung ·

    What about John Malkovich and Julian Sands as the photographers in "Killing Fields?" And if spies pretending to be photographers counts, there's Brad Pitt in "Spy Game." He uses Leica M4s and Nikon FMs as a photographer in Beirut during the civil war. (I suspect Pitt, a known camera nut, had some say in that.) Also, in films about photographers, Nick Nolte as a photojournalist in "Under Fire," and Joe Pesce as a WeeGee based photographer in "Public Eye." Finally, let's not forget the classic Eddie Arnold photographer in "Roman Holiday."

  18. disasterarea
    disasterarea ·

    I guess fashion photographer and debonair Austin Powers doesn't count?

  19. willyboy
    willyboy ·

    Brilliant, brilliant article. Dennis Hoppers character is based on British war photographer Tim Page (who - I interviewed once - is insane). Got to love him.

  20. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    Just remembered Avadon in the Capote film, photographing the murderers with his Hassey! Biopic so don't know if that counts!

  21. pushkar
    pushkar ·

    @disasterarea ha ha ha! Austin powers is my fav photographer too :D

  22. webo29
    webo29 ·

    the guy in Palermo Shooting also has a Spinner 360 knock off...

  23. onegreenfan
    onegreenfan ·

    Male award = Blow up ; Female award = Through the Eyes of Laura Mars ....

  24. onegreenfan
    onegreenfan ·

    Male award = Blow up ; Female award = Through the Eyes of Laura Mars ....

  25. saidseni
    saidseni ·

    Great, I didn't know what Buscapé meant, I was like "Rocket?!"...! @conde, great analysis.

  26. conde
    conde ·

    @saidseni In the U.S. version I watched Buscape' was translated at Rocket. It might now be the same everywhere else. Buscape' is a type of firework for kids that when lit flies all over the ground. Literally" "feet chaser" because it acts like it's coming after your feet.

  27. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    @scorpie, @webo29: Campino uses a Swiss Seitz Roundshot 35/ 35s.
    The queen of 360° photography.

  28. j0any
    j0any ·

    What about Bradley Cooper in The Midnight Meat Train? :)

  29. missmomo
    missmomo ·

    conde is exactly right. Also, isn't it pretty much the given nowadays that Thomas in 'Blow Up' was based on David Bailey?

  30. lusisilu
    lusisilu ·

    good idea. But why only men?
    In one of my favorite movies if not in my most popular movie, is the scene where Liv Ullmann photographs with her Leica.
    Stunning, amazing film

  31. basterda
    basterda ·

    WHOA ~ !

    Awesome replies, everyone! Thanks for linking some images, too! I'll find time to add your suggestions in the article - soon! Also, stay tuned for the FEMALE version! You probably will like my selections as well. :)

  32. thewretched
  33. basterda
    basterda ·

    @thewretched, I wanted to include Peter Parker but I wasn't sure if he was holding a film camera in that picture you linked! ;)

  34. mythguy9
    mythguy9 ·

    I've only watched three of them. The famous flag-raising photo in Iwo Jima was also featured in the film "Flags of Our Fathers". Cheers.

  35. thewretched
    thewretched ·

    @basterda if you have a look on the top of the camera, you can see the film rewinder!

  36. brunonf
    brunonf ·

    Nick Nolte in "Under Fire"

  37. basterda
    basterda ·

    @thewretched I realized that, too! Thanks! :D

    Great suggestion, @brunonf! Still waiting for more suggestions before I update this article. :)

  38. disdis
    disdis ·

    I loved Eddie O'Connell in Absolute Beginners

  39. disdis
    disdis ·

    but in this list my favorites are Rear window and Blow-up.

  40. basterda
    basterda ·

    As promised, the female version is here!… :)

  41. irufan7
    irufan7 ·

    edward furlong in "Pecker"

  42. wil6ka
    wil6ka ·

    Servais Mont in "L'important c'est d aimer"

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