You may be wondering, what career offers the most awesome fictional characters? Of course it’s photography! Here at The Nerdy Photographer, I’ve compiled a list of the best fictional photographers from movies, television, comic books, and even video games.
Our subjects in this article are press photographers, photojournalists, fashion photographers, portrait photographers and more. Furthermore, their stories run the gambit of genres, including drama, comedy, horror, and thrillers.
Don’t let the fact that their fictional discount their impact on the profession of photography. Just because they aren’t real, doesn’t mean fictional photographers can’t teach us a thing or two about taking amazing photos.
Or, for that matter, don’t think that they don’t inspire people to pick up a camera!
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Are you ready for our list of fictional photographers in the movies, comic books, TV, and video games? Let’s get started!
L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies – Rear Window (1954)
Jefferies, played by Jimmy Stewart in this Hitchcock classic, breaks his leg while trying to get an action shot, and is confined to a wheelchair. While sequestered in his New York City apartment, he begins spying on his neighbors, and is convinced that one of them has committed murder.
Let me just say, both from a photographer and someone who lived in NYC for 20 years, Stewart’s performance is highly believable.
Peter Parker – Spiderman
The original master of the selfie, Peter Parker manages to make a career out of taking pictures of himself. It’s almost unfair to the rest of the hard working photographers in New York City, but Peter has to deal with some other issues that most photographers don’t have to put up with.
Peter Parker’s photo and web slinging antics have spanned comic books, cartoons, television shows, and no less than FOUR different movie series. That’s right, there was a 1977 movie you probably weren’t aware of until now.
Jimmy Olsen – Superman
Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s trust sidekick, Jimmy Olsen, has been a top notch photojournalist for decades. Olson has been portrayed by NUMEROUS actors and in recent years there have been some notable decisions to mix up gender and ethnicity for the character.
Regardless of who portrays Jimmy, the character is the inspiration for a pretty awesome Spin Doctors song. Don’t agree? I will fight you!
Vicki Vale – Batman
Vicki Vale, made popular in mainstream pop culture by Kim Basinger’s portrayal in Tim Burton’s Batman, has taken on numerous jobs in her comic book history. However, she is first and foremost a photojournalist.
Thomas – Blow Up (1966)
Thomas is just your regular super cool London photographer in the 1960s until he unwittingly captures what he believes to be a murder on film. The thrills get more intense when his evidence disappears.
Austin Powers – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
He’s a groovy spy, baby! But his cover is as an international fashion photographer. It’s perfect. And I think I’ve used the term “I’m spent!” at the end of pretty much every portrait shoot I have done since this movie came out.
Also, I have to say, I think the first film in this series is a lot of fun, but also very heartfelt and seriously deals with the issues a person transported from the 1960s would have when transported to the “modern day”. The sequel films, nevertheless, managed to crush whatever empathy you had for Austin in the first film.
Rocket – City of God (2002)
Loosely based on real events, Rocket struggles in the slums of Rio to become a press photographer while his childhood friend becomes a kingpin. This movie is frenetic, sometimes terrifying, and beautiful crafted. It won four Academy Awards
Mike Kovack – Man With a Camera (1958-1960)
Charles Bronson portrays Mike, a former combat photographer who comes to New York City. When he gets there, Kovack becomes a freelance photographer specializing in difficult and often dangerous jobs!
And you’ve got pre-Death Wish, pre-Great Escape, pre-Dirty Dozen Charles Bronson!!
Jonathan Byers – Stranger Things (2016-2021)
Jonathan, played by Charlie Heaton, is an avid photographer. To the point of being semi creepy. But, his photography plays a crucial part in solving some supernatural mysteries.
Finn – Palermo Shooting (2008)
Wim Wenders got an actual rock star, Campino, to play rock star photographer, Finn. After living on the edge nearly costs him his life, Finn moves to Palermo to chill out. But trouble just seems to keep finding him.
Martin – Proof (1991)
Hugo Weaving plays Martin, a BLIND photographer who takes pictures of things to prove the world is as others tell him it is. Just wrap your head around blind photographer first…
Come for the pre-Matrix, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Babe, and Lord of the Rings Weaving and stay for young Russell Crowe as his friend, Andy.
Anna – Closer (2004)
While the movie is predominately about the story of two couples lives intersecting, the scenes of Anna (played by Julia Roberts) at work as a portrait photographer feel genuine and more well thought than most treatments of photographers.
Robert Kincaid – Bridges of Madison County (1995)
Robert is a National Geographic photographer on assignment to photograph some bridges in the 1960s and takes a detour from pressing the shutter to have a four day love affair with a woman he meets while on the assignment.
Leonard – Memento
Leonard has to document everything in his life with his camera because, well, he forgets things.
Given the choice between tattooing myself and taking pictures to remember things, I would definitely go with taking pictures.
Leon Bernstein – The Public Eye
Equally comfortable hanging out with crooks or cops, Leon never takes sides, he only takes pictures! You can’t go wrong with Joe Pesci as a hard boiled crime photographer with a heart of gold.
Prue Halliwell – Charmed
Prue’s photos are, I guess you could say, magical!
Les Galantine – Delirious (2006)
Steve Buscemi portrays Les, a member of the paparazzi, who takes on a homeless youth (played by Michael Pitt) as an assistant. Buscemi is always on point and it’s a lot of fun to see him playing across from Pitt in their pre-Boardwalk Empire days.
Harlen Maguire – Road to Perdition (2002)
Harlen, played by Jude Law, is both a sinister mob assassin and a crime scene photographer. People note his pale complexion from spending too much time in the darkroom.
Since Road to Perdition was originally a graphic novel, Harlen is one of those rare fictional photographers to span different types of visual media.
Sean O’Connell – Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
In this 2013 remake of the Danny Kaye classic, photography plays a critical role. O’Connell, portrayed by Sean Penn, is a near mythical figure in the movie as Walter Mitty searches to find him and a lost canister of film. When Mitty finds O’Connell in the Himalayas, camped out waiting to photograph the even more elusive than he is snow leopard, he doesn’t take the picture.
“If I like a moment…me, personally…I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just wanna stay in it!
Seymour – One Hour Photo (2002)
Whatever you do, do not take your inspiration from Seymour. While he’s primarily a photo technician, it feels wrong to leave him off a list of photographers in movies. I would tell you more but that would spoil this brilliantly creepy performance by Robin Williams. He is absolutely chilling and will make you really glad that the days of the photo clerk seeing every single one of your exposures is long past us…
Laura Mars – The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)
Laura, played by Faye Dunaway, is a hip downtown Manhattan photographer who suddenly develops the ability to see through the eyes of a serial killer. She must use her powers to catch the killer before he strikes again.
The film also features a young Tommy Lee Jones and Brad Dourif.
Rafterman – Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Rafterman is the combat photographer to Joker’s war correspondent. He wants to go into combat after hearing Joker’s stories. But, as fate would have it, sometimes you get more than you wish for…
Also, you can click here to check out the beautiful behind-the-scenes photos Matthew Modine took while shooting the movie.
Frank West – Dead Rising
I still remember picking up the first Dead Rising when it came out. Frank West is a photographer sent in to document a zombie outbreak. While there’s the usual zombie apocalypse fair, what made this game stand out was Frank’s ability to pick up anything (and I do mean anything) and use it as a weapon. And, you got points for actually taking pictures and documenting the various stages of the outbreak!
Until recently, I had no idea that they actually turned Dead Rising into a series of movies starring Jesse Metcalf as Frank West. I am going to check them out on Amazon. Will you?
Lydia Deetz – Beetlejuice.
Lydia, the daughter of an established artist, is an avid photographer and can be seen taking pictures throughout the film.
She is, herself, strange and unusual.
The Photojournalist – Apocalypse Now (1979)
No list of photographers in movies would be complete without the “American photojournalist.” Portrayed by Dennis Hopper, this addled acolyte of Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz welcomes Martin Sheen’s Willard into the mad world deep in the heart of darkness. You can certainly give him one thing, he’s not short on gear!
“The man is clear in his mind! But his soul is mad”
Jade – Beyond Good and Evil
Jade is the protagonist of Beyond Good and Evil and she uses her camera as one of her most important weapons. She owns her own photojournalism company. Furthermore, she is tasked with photographing incriminating data on an elite military organization and denounce their fraudulent actions.
Unfortunately, they haven’t made any more of these games in the last 10 years for new consoles. Fingers crossed!
Richard Boyle – Salvador (1986)
An early, and critically acclaimed Oliver Stone film starring James Woods as conflict photographer Richard Boyle covering the Salvadoran Civil War. While the film is more about US foreign policy, it does give some insight into the mindset of conflict photographers.
Lucy – High Art (1998)
Lucy, a drug addicted photographer played by Ally Sheedy, falls in love with an art magazine intern and the two begin to exploit one another to further their own careers.
The film explores the ways that personal and professional lives can intersect. Furthermore, the portrait photos in the movie were created to emulate the style of Nan Goldin.
Nick Van Owen – The Lost World (1997)
Van Owen is is portrayed by Vince Vaughn in a prime post Swingers performance. He’s there for witty comments like this:
“Competition’s over, close the entries, I’d like to thank everybody who lost.”
But his photography skills are not entirely why he’s hired for the job photographing what’s happening at the neighboring island to Jurassic Park. He’s also a saboteur!
Russell Price – Under Fire (1983)
Nick Nolte plays Price, a star photographer covering the civil war in Nicaragua. As the conflict deepens, he finds it more and more difficult not to take sides.
Casey Connor – The Faculty (1998)
Remember The Faculty? Wow, this movie had a ton of talent in it! And one of those talents was Elijah Wood as the nerdy high school photographer, Casey Connor.
And no, I did not include this fictional photographer just because his name is Casey!
Chris – Metroland (1997)
Portrayed by a young Christian Bale, Chris is reminded of his carefree (sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll) lifestyle as a photographer in Paris when an old friend reappears in his life after a ten year absence. Will he return to his hedonistic ways or face reality?
Did I miss your favorite fictional photographer?
Tell me who they are! I will add them to the list. You can tell me in a comment or reach out to me via:
Did You Enjoy the List?
Did this list of fictional photographers in movies, comic books, television, and video games brighten your day? Good, I’m glad. My purpose in these types of posts is to give you some deep cut material to impress your photographer friends, as well as some entertainment.
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