Movie Director Christopher Nolan Has Some Great Advice for Photographers

Whether you work with still or moving images, there’s an art to telling a story with pictures. As a movie director whose preferred medium is analog film, Christopher Nolan’s shared experience with the evolution of his own creative process is sure to resonate with photographers.

In the movie world, as in the photography world, many fruitless debates rage about whether film is “better” than digital or vice versa. Even if online chat servers had existed in the era of the Impressionist painters, it’s hard to imagine heated flame wars about whether watercolors were better than oils, or Claude Monet exchanging angry poop emojis with John Singer Sargent! At the end of the day, the best medium to use is the one that gives you, the artist, the results that you like best.

Movie director Christopher Nolan chooses to shoot film because it’s the medium that he likes best—the medium that best allows him to express his own artistic vision. When pushed for a reason why he prefers film, he said, “The way a film camera records light onto its emulsion—that’s as close as you can get to the way the eye sees.” At the end of the day, however, this is a very subjective thing, and what matters more than the rationale that Nolan offers for choosing film over digital is the fact that he is following his own instincts in his creative process.

In another in her series of excellent and thought-provoking videos about the art of photography, Tatiana Hopper discusses the importance of following your instincts in your creative work, using the film director Christopher Nolan as a perfect example of somebody who has always blazed his own trail creatively. Tatiana talks about a number of the artistic traits that Nolan leverages to his advantage in his filmmaking and that have made him a unique voice in the movie industry. These include following your instincts, trusting your intuition, and balancing instinct with the more rational elements of the creative process.

Tatiana also discusses the importance of the emotive aspects of storytelling and the need to exercise restraint in the exposition of your story. These elements are important whether you are telling your story with a moving image or a still photograph, and it is in this common ground between movies and photography that Tatiana finds plenty of valuable lessons for photographers in Nolan’s film work and in his experience with the evolution of his own creative process.