Photographers in Cinema – “Blow Up”

When I was kid, the concept of becoming a fashion photographer seemed pretty cool.
Not so much the Funny Face/Avedon type, but the slightly grittier version.
Photograph beautiful women, cool cars, party time?
C’mon, I was raised in an apartment building in New Jersey.
There were minor and hard to find glimpses of that life for an adolescent boy to see, but the entire popular culture had been praising the British way of doing it.
David Bailey was a UK photographic icon in the 60’s and this movie, Blow Up, is purportedly based on his life.

513P-EsZfeL._SL500_AA240_The simple story is that of a rather crass, arrogant, fashion photographer, who, while stepping out of a shoot in session, happens upon a lovers tryst in a public park.
While he is shooting this meeting, he also photographs a murder. Or the elements and aftermath of a murder.
His discoveries become apparent, when he begins to “blow up” photos and sees detail that was too hidden before.
Ok, That is the gist of the story and you can get the rest here.

Now when this came out in 1966, I was way to young to be seeing this. The nudity, sex, and drugs were way out of my league and age range. the purple paper scene somehow went down in cinema history as well as the shoot with super model of the time Veruschka.
It was only many years later, at a revival screening, that I got to see on screen what I had imagined my dream profession to be, wrapped in a murder mystery.
The main elements were there: cool studio, all of the gear. He uses 4 different camera types in the flick.
Strobes are all over the place. His lab was always set up, thanks, no doubt, to his attentive assistant and staff.
Women came to his house unannounced, just to be photographed.
Almost laid out like a compound, his living quarters were connected by a courtyard. So close to his work he could roll out of bed and shoot.
His car had cb radio that he used like a cell phone.
Yep, all the trappings The life of working photographer.
But he was miserable and bored. Even as the movie begins, he wants to be recognized as a fine artist.
Never heard that before , right?
Oh, yeah: He was a real jerk.

As a photographer, every depiction from Astaire in Funny Face to Julia Roberts in Closer gets a closer examination from me.

Blow Up showed me another look at a part of a profession I thought was the right path. I went a different way.

The movie does hold up, though, just as good cinema. There is a good reason it won the Grand Prix at Cannes that year. Michelanglo Antonioni’s first English speaking film.

We have a hundreds of DVD’s on the subject of photography at
The dramatic films that depict photographers as protagonists, are in a shorter stack of these.

Have any movies about photographers made an impact on you?
Sure, you may say you wanted to photograph the Bridges of Madison County, or make a timeless image of wartime, or maybe you have an affinity for the Eyes of Laura Mars

Or is it the biographies of the photographers that make an impression?
We’d like to hear from you.
Just post a comment below.

Oh, by the way, I was lucky enough to hire David Bailey as a director, in the 90’s. He could discuss fine art photography like a curator. All of the rest of the traits seemed to match also.

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