Why every photographer should see 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'

I went to the movies a couple of weeks ago to see 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'. I saw the trailer earlier and I knew Ben Stiller plays in the movie so I kept my expectations low about the movie - I just felt like watching a comedy. However, I was really positively surprised with the movie and in fact, it almost 'blew my mind' (as a photographer). Of course this is my personal and subjective opinion about the movie but I believe that every photographer should see this movie, especially those of you who are currently struggling with staying creative (including myself).

Sean O'Connell (starring Sean Penn) in Marcus Bleasdale’s original photo

Sean O'Connell (starring Sean Penn) in Marcus Bleasdale’s original photo

So why I think every photographer should see 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'?

Beautiful cinema- and photo- graphy

I don't know what to say more about it. Stuart Dryburgh, the director of photography, has done an awesome job in my opinion. I really enjoyed the scenic and landscape cinematographic shots, often very minimalistic but still powerful. I'm sure they can inspire many of you.


The movie's crew has done a really good job composing and choosing music for the beautiful cinematography. I honestly don't know how I would rate the music alone but I love how inspirational it becomes together with the photographs and cinematography. I think the cinematography alone is great in the movie but it has a much stronger effect with the music the composed.


It's not easy to say how and why something inspires you. Sometimes it just happens. The combination of cinematography with music in the movie can be inspirational already but if you look at the whole movie and at the messages it sends to the viewers, you might discover something that will push you in the right direction for creating something unique with your work - you might discover something creative within you.

The original picture by Marcus Bleasdale - full  'Story Behind the Photo That Inspired Walter Mitty's Journey'

The original picture by Marcus Bleasdale - full 'Story Behind the Photo That Inspired Walter Mitty's Journey'

The message(s) (for photographers)

Everyone will find different messages and the one I found in the movie, might not be the most important for you or you might find hidden message which I haven't. Towards the end of the movie, Walter Mitty finally finds a photographer, Sean O'Connell, who he has been looking for literally around the world. O'Connell wants to take a picture of a very rare species of a tiger (if I remember correctly) but when the tiger finally appears, O'Connell doesn't take a picture. This is how the conversation goes:

Walter Mitty: When are you going to take it?

Sean O'Connell: Sometimes I don't. If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don't like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.

I leave it up to you to interpret it.

My another takeaway from the movie is a quote, or rather a question, I came up with myself: 'How can you experience photography without experiencing life?' Photography is a communication tool but it's impossible to communicate about something that you don't understand or you only have a limited knowledge about.

Another way to understand it is that if you're a struggling photographer who tries to come up with next project or an idea and you spend most of your day in front of a computer, you should stop it and start 'experiencing life'. Detach yourself from a computer - it might seem as a good tool for finding project ideas and creativity because you can browse the internet which if full of others' ideas but I think that in fact computers can also constrain us from being creative. I made this mistake myself! I believe that if you start really experiencing life, meet new people, do something crazy and challenging and get out of your comfort zone, your eyes will open for creativity and you'll find inspiration and ideas for your photographs.