One of the things that inspire me as a photographer is movies. A visual harmony of well planned scenes, euphoric music, and dialogue that makes the moment engraved in your heart. From the risks of being a photo journalist, a brilliant failure-success story, and a journey into the unknown, these are the 3 movies that have a major influence in my life as a photographer, traveller, and a person.
The Bang Bang Club (2010)
The Plot: The story revolves around 4 photo journalists who were active within the townships of South Africa during the Apartheid period. The story took place between 1990 – 1994, a time before Nelson Mandela was released from prison to the elections. The Bang Bang club was comprised of Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter, Ken Oosterbroek, and João Silva. The movie wasn’t a box office hit, but it had it moments. From shooting to the outside – in and being competitive amongst your peers, this film can trigger a lot of points in the aspiring photo journalist in you.
The Lesson: Where do you draw the line between photography and compassion? When your subjects are in a great ordeal of hunger, pain, and apathy, would you take the photo first, reach out to them or is it the other way around? This movie’s message for me was about living life to the fullest (because life is too short in this sort of business), seeking that picture perfect moment, and above all else – never forget your humanity.
The Plot: Enter alpine extraordinaire Conrad Anker, artist – climber Renan Ozturk, and Film Maker – Photographer Jimmy Chin. After attempting but failing to climb Meru’s 4000 foot wall known as the Shark’s fin in 2008, the 3 first to have summited the peak documented their failure and success on 2011. The film is a dramatic documentary which truly captures the human spirit’s never give up mentality. Along the journey, Jimmy Chin almost died in an avalanche, Renan Ozturk suffered a near fatal injury while skiing, and Conrad Anker’s past wrestles with his fortitude as he recalls how he lost his mentor on a similar climbing engagement.
The Lesson: Fail forward. Never let adversity or whatever circumstances hinder you from reaching your goals. Trust the process but learn to prepare. I was teary eyed as I saw the journey and the completion of their goal, to climb Meru. To me, everybody has their own mountain to climb. But what are we willing to sacrifice to reach that goal? Are we willing to see it through the end despite numerous odds? Meru is a spiritual film, a movie that will make you question if you’re doing enough in this life.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
The Plot: Ben Stiller portrays Walter Mitty, a negative asset manager at Life Magazine who daydreams of radical adventures and has a crush on a co-worker named Cheryl. Sean Penn is Sean O’Connell, a bad-ass photojournalist that submits all his work to Walter Mitty. The Magazine faces transition from print to online, Walter is tasked to print the last cover of the magazine using O’Connel’s last film roll that he submitted. However, everything got twisted when negative 25 was “lost”. The film follows Walter Mitty’s journey to the unknown to find the photographer and the film.
The Lesson: Beautiful cinematography, compelling music, and a brilliant plot. The movie is a delight to those who are starting out in photography. That moment when Mitty and O’connel had a conversation is a masterpiece for me. This film is an eye opener. It makes you want to pack your bag, charge your cameras, and set out to find your own negative 25. The movie may be titled to the main protagonist, but for me, it was O’connel’s words that encouraged me to be a travel photographer.