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Finding photography inspiration on the big screen

When it first came out, I had the pleasure of seeing “La La Land.” You know, the musical movie that won seven Golden Globes last week, including Best Musical or Comedy Movie.

And while critics and the public alike are praising the movie for its acting, music and story, I’m praising it for something else — its inspiration.

Watching movies with a photographer’s eye

Within the past few years, as my experience in photography has grown, so has my interest in watching movies that inspire my photography. “La La Land” is one of those movies. The film’s scenery — whether it be overlooking the Los Angeles skyline or at a pool party — is unique to my eye. The cinematography is unreal, taking advantage of different camera angles and lighting. Literally, every frame of video would also make for a breathtaking photograph.

The color lends itself to a retro, film-type vibe. Dark night skies, purple sunsets and bright blue days are the perfect backdrops given what the focus is on the screen. Characters wear bright, simple clothing that “pops” and lends to the overall look and feel.

Wide shots feature the Los Angeles skyline, which, when coupled with the flawless color schemes, makes for a perfect backdrop to the story.

Paying attention to details

Movies like “La La Land” might encourage me to view a night cityscape differently. It might influence me in playing around with a different white balance, to add a unique hue to the photograph. It might even change the way I edit a photo. The angles of “La La Land” might have me go wider than I usually would, or play with different viewpoints of what I’m photographing.

I might know how to do all of these things separately, but it’s putting them together that ultimately helps to influence a photograph.

walter-mitty movies
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The same can be said for a few other movies over the years. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” stands out, especially with its photography backstory, as Ben Stiller travels through Iceland. The views are simply astounding, and some of the best I’ve seen in a movie. The conceptualization of a video on such amazing scenery makes for something that has never been done before.

It was truly fitting to make sure every shot mattered in a film with a nod to photography — it was pulled off brilliantly.

Watching this might encourage me to dive into the great outdoors, and play around with different subjects in ways I may not have thought of before. It might increase my desire to play around with different concepts, and possibly merge different ideas I have together into one photograph.

Regardless of the movie, there are a ton of options out there to inspire your photography.

Now I just have to figure out how to stage a 30-person dancing photoshoot on top of cars. On a bridge. In busy Los Angeles.

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Rafael Jones

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