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Spotlight: 4 Short Films About Photographers and Photography

By David Schonauer   Wednesday August 30, 2017


How are filmmaking and photography alike?

How are they different?

It’s not surprising that filmmakers are interested in photographers as subjects: The interplay and contrasts between the two cousin mediums are complex. Over the years a number of famous film directors, including Wim Wenders and Gus Van Sant, have also become known for their still photography, while many well known filmmakers — including Stanley Kubrick, Anton Corbijn, Spike Jonze, and David McLain (see our Profile) — started their careers as photographers. And of course many people best known as photographers have gone into filmmaking, from Robert Frank and Tim Hetherington to Man Ray and William Klein.

That number has been growing in recent years as technology has broken down many of the barriers between filmmaking and photography, and as the demand for motion on the internet has risen — an evolution that has only made the relationship between film and photography more intriguing.

Nowness has a series of short films about photographers, four of which we feature today. They focus on Daniel Arnold, Mark Romanek, Daido Moriyama, and Robert Whitman. All the films are concerned, in one way or another, with process and observation — issues close to the heart of filmmakers.

Photographers in Focus: Daniel Arnold

Street photography has never been bigger, and the cosmic home of street photography in New York City. That’s were Daniel Arnold finds his inspiration. “Arnold is the latest pavement-pounding photographer capturing the real experiences of American life. A passion that started off as a pastime, practised between his jobs as a journalist, Arnold's photographic style—and perhaps the reason for his wide appeal—sees him get up-close to his subjects, capturing authentic moments that draw viewers in,” notes Nowness  in the latest in its series on photographers.


Photographers in Focus:  Mark Romanek

Mark Romanek made his reputation as a filmmaker, creating iconic music videos for Nine Inch Nails, Michael Jackson, and Johnny Cash, and the feature films One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go. But Romanek has spent his career photographing the A-list company he finds himself in each day. “[T]he images give an intimate view into the moments between takes, from time in the studio with Kanye West to bumping into Iggy Pop on the street,” notes Nowness.


Photographers in Focus: Daido Moriyama

Daido Moriyama has gained an international cult following for his uncompromising, high-contrast black-and-white shots of Tokyo’s bustling streets, notes Nowness, which last year featured short documentary from Italian director Andrea Cossu made for the exhibition “Daido Moriyama, In Color” at Carla Sozzani Gallery. The film delves into the world of the master photographer’s often-overlooked color works, shot mostly on commission for magazines between the late 1960s through to the early 1980s.


Photographers in Focus: Cuba Raw

For a number of years throughout the late 1990s, photographer Robert Whitman documented Cuba in a way that captured an up-close-and-personal vision of the country's varied inhabitants and visitors. In Cuba Raw, a short documentary by director Oriel Pe’er and featured last year at Nowness, Whitman recounts his love affair with the Caribbean island nation.

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