The Best 10 Photography Documentaries You Must Watch in 2023

Photography Documentaries

“Through the Lens of Time: The Top 10 Photography Documentaries You Can’t Miss”

We have compiled a list of the top ten photography documentaries that you absolutely must watch. These films will not only educate and enlighten you, but they will also extend your viewpoint on the art of capturing moments.People all across the world have had their hearts and minds won over by photography since it is both an art form and a way of sharing stories. In the realm of photography, there is always something new to learn and enjoy, regardless of your level of experience, be it that of an amateur hobbyist or a seasoned professional.

Documentaries, with their all-encompassing narratives and stunning graphics, offer a unique look into the lives and works of important photographers, as well as the growth of photography as a medium in and of itself. Documentaries may be found on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. There is no better time than the present to check out some of the most fascinating and educational photography films that are currently available.

Documentaries about the arts are their own distinct subgenre of film and provide viewers with an in-depth look at various aspects of the artistic world. The investigation goes beyond the manifestations of artistic expression that can be seen with the naked eye and encompasses a thorough investigation into the psychological and biographical aspects of artists. This includes a discussion of the artists’ primary motivations, difficulties, and the socio-cultural environment that has an effect on their creative output.

Understanding the Term: Photography Documentaries

Photography documentaries are movies or other visual shows that look into the lives, works, and methods of photographers or photography as an art form or a job in general. Most of the time, these documentaries show how artists work, how history affects their work, and how certain photographers or photography groups have changed the world. They can learn about many things about photography, like its cultural importance, how it has changed over time, its effect on society, or the personal stories behind famous photos. The goal of photography documentaries is to teach, inspire, and encourage a deeper knowledge and appreciation of photography as an art form.

Different Types of Photography Documentaries

There are many distinct kinds of documentaries about photography, and each one focuses on a different facet of photography as an art and as a profession. The following are some examples of frequent types:

  • Biographical documentaries: These give a thorough examination of the life and work of a particular photographer, as well as their influences and contributions to the field of photography.
  • Genre or Technique-Centric Documentaries: The subjects of these films are certain types of photography or photographic techniques, and they investigate the history, development, and effect of those subjects.
  • Historical Documentaries: These dive into the historical backdrop of photography, stressing the development of the medium and technological breakthroughs, as well as the role that photography plays in moulding societal attitudes.
  • Cinematic Essays on Photography:These documentaries take a more creative and introspective approach and frequently use techniques of visual storytelling to investigate the philosophical and emotional facets of photography. They may concentrate on the relationship between photography and other art forms, such as writing or painting, as a central theme.
  • Educational Documentaries: These are targeted at giving aspiring photographers the kind of practical knowledge and advice that they can put to use right away. The use of various camera techniques, lighting, composition, and post-processing may all be covered in these classes

Must-See Photography Documentaries

1. Everybody Street (2013)

Photography Documentaries

This documentary takes place in New York City and explores the work of well-known street photographers Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Gilden, Joel Meyerowitz, and Mary Ellen Mark. The film focuses on the subjects’ lives and careers as street photographers. It provides a captivating peek into their lives as well as the work that they perform, and it is certain to urge you to get out there and begin shooting.

2. The Salt of the Earth (2014)

Photography Documentaries

This documentary tells the story of the Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado, who spent more than four decades documenting the human condition all around the world. His work is shown in this movie. The documentary focuses on his life and tells its audience about his experiences. Because his work is able to be both breathtaking and gut-wrenching at the same time, every photographer should make it a point to look at his body of work at some point.

3. Magnum Photos (2018)

This documentary goes into great depth on the history of Magnum Photos, which is widely considered to be among the most prominent photography cooperatives in the whole wide globe. It features interviews with three of the most well-known photographers of the 20th century: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and Gordon Parks.

4. Henri Cartier-Bresson (2003)

Photography Documentaries

This documentary looks into the life of Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as his body of work. Cartier-Bresson was a photographer who had a significant impact on photography during the 20th century. This offers a fascinating glimpse into his one-of-a-kind vision as well as his passion for capturing the defining moment in time.

5. William Eggleston in the Real World (2005)

This documentary focuses on William Eggleston, widely acknowledged as one of the most important photographers of the past fifty years and the topic of the documentary. It is a fascinating look at his life and profession, and as a result, you are certain to be inspired to view the world in a different perspective as a direct result of reading it.

6. The Many Lives of William Klein

The photographer William Klein, who has spent his whole career questioning and subverting accepted practises, is the subject of this video. William Klein is the subject of the documentary that was made. Despite the fact that his artwork frequently induces profound thought and occasionally stirs up controversy, it never fails to make people lose their breath when they see it.

7. National Geographic: The Photo Ark (2018)

Photography Documentaries

The documentary titled “The Photographer’s Quest to Photograph Every Species in the World’s Zoos and Aquariums” (2018) follows photographer Joel Sartore as he embarks on a mission to photograph every species that can be seen on display in zoos and aquariums located all over the world. This documentary is an awe-inspiring and encouraging ode to the countless varieties of life that can be discovered on our planet.

8. Faces and Places (2017)

Throughout the course of this documentary, photographers Agnès Varda and JR are followed as they journey across France to construct public art pieces in a variety of locales. This film is a celebration of photography’s ability to bring people together in a way that is not only uplifting but also thought-provoking. David Fincher was the film’s director, and its title is “The Power of Photography.”

9. Finding Vivian Maier (2013)

The life of Vivian Maier, a woman who was celebrated for her work as both a nanny and an outstanding street photographer, is the subject of the documentary that bears the same name. After her passing, her body of work was unearthed, and over the course of time, it has developed into some of the most widely regarded and respected photography in the entire globe.

10. Richard Avedon: Darkness and Light (2018)

Photography Documentaries

Darkness and Light is a documentary that was released in 2018 and tells the narrative of the life of Richard Avedon, who was one of the most famous fashion photographers of the 20th century. This show provides a fascinating look at both the artist’s work and his life, and anyone who has even a passing interest in photography should make an effort to see it.

We can’t miss the interesting world of cultural documentaries on our way through the lively world of art documentaries. They give us a unique look into different traditions and cultures. If you want to learn more, read our article on Notable Cultural Documentaries.

These movies provide a deeper understanding of the passion, creativity, and dedication that inspire photographers to capture the essence of life in all its different forms. They offer more than simply a glance into the world of photography. Viewers can get vital insights into the art of visual storytelling and the significant impact it can have on our perception of the world by investigating the lives and works of these influential photographers. Each documentary is a moving demonstration of the strength of the human spirit as well as the transforming potential of photography as a vehicle for personal expression and the examination of societal issues.


Where can I find these documentaries to watch?

Many of these documentaries may be found on popular streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. Some may also be available through rental services or on-demand video platforms.

Are these documentaries appropriate for all ages?

While the majority of these documentaries are appropriate for all ages, some may contain mature topics or sensitive content. Viewer discretion is urged, and it is suggested that before watching, you check the relevant content warnings or age classifications.

Are these documentaries available in languages other than English?

Depending on the platform and area, some of these documentaries may have subtitles or dubbed versions available in multiple languages. Language settings should be checked with the relevant streaming platform.


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