The winter is a good time to kick back and enjoy a good movie or TV show, so for our season 8 premiere, the gang is going to talk about our favourite shows that have some feature of photography or a photographer. As a group, our tastes are rather varied and encompasses both fiction, non-fiction and even a bit of anime thrown in.
First spotted on a local PBS channel Blow Up directed by Michelangelo Antonioni caught Bill’s eye not just for the photography but also the mystery thriller aspect of the film. From the wrong side of the tracks to the high fashion world and even murder. Features a great Nikon F and some excellent darkroom work thrown in. And while Bill was first drawn into the film for the Britpop music but recently re-watched the thing through the lens (pun intended) of a photographer. Scratches that photography and music itch.
One Hour Photo
If there is one word to describe One Hour Photo is creepy. It stars the late great Robin Williams but certainly is not a common role. Williams stars as a lab tech for a local minilab at a big box store. Set in the early 2000s, Williams is a loner at the lab and is a bit picky about the placement of the scene. There are a couple of cameras, the Leica Minilux (the family) and the Minolta Freedom Zoom 150 (Williams) The film features an Agfa minilab which is a plot device when there is a deviation in the cyans from what Williams’ character prefers the setting. The main plot focuses on an obsession with a single-family who are regular customers, which fills a hole in his own life. It also shows off the truth of a lab tech that can see everything when you bring in your film for processing. And the filming and cinematography is brilliant in how the scene is framed and coloured is something worthwhile studying.
Life is a fictional account of the relationship between Dennis Stock and James Dean and set about seven months before Dean’s untimely death. Stock, invited to the East of Eden premiere where Stock recognized the star potential of Dean. After convincing his Magnium boss to let him (Stock) take the job to do a photo essay on Dean rather than take the ‘regular’ work. The fun part for Jess is seeing the press cameras on the red carpet, Rolleis, Graflexs and the like. Most of the photo action takes place in the mid-west on Dean’s final visit to his home farm and shows the intimate portraits of Dean at home. Working on the farm, going to jazz clubs and sock hops. The cameras used by stock were the Leica IIIf and a Leica M3, the trouble is that the M3 is a single stroke making it a bit anachronistic.
This documentary follows James Nachtwey, considered to be one of the best of his time. Released in 2001, photography is still heavily based around film as digital was only starting to hit the professional market. James works mainly with a Canon EOS-1 or one of the different versions. The actual filming is done by mounting a camera on the still camera, giving an immersive experience. While the work focuses on war zones, James mostly focuses on the aftermath once the combat has stopped. And it gives a bird’s eye view of what life as a combat photographer went through in the late 20th Century. It opens up a window to what it used to be like. But the biggest draw for John is how it opens up the window into how James handles capturing the worst of humanity and his empathy towards the collateral victims of combat. It is balanced with the cold nature of publishing with the magazine process, which shows the old means of page layout.
It’s categorized as a documentary that follows the work of an amazing photographer Elsa Dorfman. Dorfman is best known for her work with the ultra-large format 20×24 Polaroid Camera. It feels like you’re sitting in Elsa’s studio and learning about her life and the wonderful work that she has been doing. Starting with her black & white work with some big music names in New York City, and her friendship with these people rather than seeing them as celebrities. As for the camera, Elsa managed to secure one of these ultra-large Polaroid cameras through nagging got a lease on one of five of these beautiful pieces of machinery. The title comes from the two photos that she always takes, one for the client and the rejected one, or the b-side which she keeps herself. It’s a love letter to Elsa and Polaroid.
When it comes to Anime, there aren’t that many shows or series that feature photography. And when Alex was exploring good cosplays for conventions that allowed him to continue to photograph the event as part of a costume his friend Sarah pointed him at a couple of series. The first, Speed Grapher, while a little more photography related dealt with other themes that didn’t completely fit with the family-friendly environment of most conventions. The second, Area 88 was much more his speed. While certainly an anime of the 1980s in both storyline and artwork but it has a Top Gun vibe. And while the fighter jets are the main storyline, one character (xxx), is a photographer who lands at Area 88 to capture the mercenary air force. He uses a Nikon F3 with the MD4 Motordrive. There is even some Kodak Tri-X that is featured and even steep prices because out of the way air force base in the desert.
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