There are two major categories of movie photos: film stills and art photos. Most of these vintage images originated on movie sets and were used as publicity pictures, often displayed in theater lobbies or printed in programs. Though there is a good deal of variation, photos of actors or behind-the-scenes shots were typically printed on glossy eight-by-10 or nine-by-seven-inch paper.

Film stills, as their name suggests, are photographs from scenes in a movie. There are actually two different types of stills. The first and more collectible is the posed film still. In this type of photo, the actor is seen in costume, but the shot has been set up to accentuate specific details of a movie. These photos were typically used as advertising in periodicals and as lobby cards. Studios tended to take posed stills as full-body shots, so close-ups are rare and, consequently, more coveted by many collectors.

The other type of film still is a frame enlargement, which is simply a blown-up copy of one frame of film. Though authentic, these were often unable to convey the same level of emotion of, say, a posed Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman at Dooley Wilson’s piano in “Casablanca.”

Older movie stills of Greta Garbo in the 1920s or Jean Harlow in the 1930s, for example, are particularly collectible. Stills from memorable and legendary films are also highly sought—for example, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in “Gone with the Wind” or Errol Flynn in “Robin Hood.”

Some collectors of movie stills like to focus on an individual actor or actress; Judy Garland is a particularly popular catch. Others go for the sex appeal of such stars as Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe, and then there are those who try to accumulate photos of power couples, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy foremost among them. Finally, there are those who collect by genre, be it horror flicks, Westerns, or film noir.

While film stills are popular, their cousins, art photos, are also fun to collect. Unlike stills, whose subjects are confined to specific movies, art photos are rarefied portraits of movie stars. The most famous vintage Hollywood portrait photographer was George Hurrell. He photographed just about all of the big stars of the 1930s and 1940s, from Garbo to Joan Crawford to John Barrymore.

Whether it is a film still, a portrait, or even just a candid snapshot, movie photos are usually more desirable if they are autographed. The problem, of course, is that signature...

The two most collectible star autographs are those of Garbo and James Dean. Garbo’s autograph is rare because she signed virtually nothing, except the contracts and legal documents that required the Swedish beauty’s signature. Dean’s signature, on the other hand, is collectible because his time in the spotlight was brief—he died at the age of 24, with only three credited films to his name.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

Steve McQueen Film Poster Site

If you're a Steve McQueen fan, this site can't be beat. Roger Harris has put together a definitive collection of Mc… [read review or visit site]

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

Steven Hill's Movie Title Screens Page

If you're the type who likes watching the titles and credits at the beginning of movies, you'll love this site. Ste… [read review or visit site]

Cinema Treasures

Cinema Treasures

This user-contributed database of classic movie theaters currently lists over 17,000 theaters worldwide. Browse by … [read review or visit site]

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Warner Bros. Title Card Gallery

Dave Mackey's filmography and title card gallery for 35 years of Warner Bros. cartoons. Browsable by year or alphab… [read review or visit site]

Steves Disney Collection

Steves Disney Collection

Steve Lee’s large collection of original Disney art: pencil drawings from animated features produced during W… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

8 X10 Color Photo Of-close Up- Yvonne Craig- Sexy8 X10 Color Photo Of-liz M. And Erin M. And Dick York And Dog 8 X10 Color Photo Of-close Up-debra Messing8 X 10- B & W Photo Of-susan Hayward - Stunning In Gown8x10 B & W Photo Of-agnes Moorehead-close UpVintage Photo Of Zachary Scott And Alexis Smith Stallion Road 1947 C0438 X10 Color Photo Of-close Up-robert FullerVintage Photo Of Steven Bauer & David Caruso In Thief Of Hearts 1983 G1408 X10 Color Photo Of-close Up- Lynda Carter8 X10 Color Photo Of-kate Winslit And Leo Di Caprio8 X10 Color Photo Of-neve Campbell- Sexy Sophia Loren & Jayne Mansfield Iconic Sexy 1957 Romanoff's Restaurant PhotographTheda Bara As Cleopatra Original Vintage 1917 Fox Dbw Silent Portrait PhotoRare Wild Risqué Jean Harlow Vintage 1932 Pre-code Art Deco Glamour PhotographEarly 1950s Marilyn Monroe Pin-up Beauty Cheesecake Glamour Photograph VintageMarilyn Monroe Vintage 1952 The Henrietta Awards Candid Trophy PhotographDeborah Kerr Vibrant Color Portrait King And I Origianl Photo Transparency SlideMarilyn Monroe East Of Eden Premiere 1955 Sexy Original Vintage PhotographMarilyn Monroe At Home 1958 Candid Original Vintage Photograph By Bob HenriquesGhostbusters 2 (1989) Original B.t.s. Ilm Creature Shop Fx Prod. Photos +Marilyn Monroe & Robert Mitchum Greet The Press ~ Orig Press Photo... Circa 1954Marilyn Monroe Arthur Miller Prince & Showgirl 1956 Original Vintage PhotographMarilyn Monroe Honeymoon Korean War '54 Usaf Candid Original Official PhotographLizabeth Scott Vintage Portrait Color Original 5x7 Photo Transparency SlideDeborah Kerr Beautiful Vintage Stunning Quality Original 8x10 Photo TransparencyMarilyn Monroe Hugging Rock Hudson Original 2.25 X 2.25 Inch B/w Photo NegativeHedy Lamarr Vintage Portrait Original Color 5x4 Inch Photo Transparency SlideMarilyn Monroe Striking Iconic Vintage Original Glamour Portrait PhotographHedy Lamarr Vintage Stunning Quality Original Color 5x4 Inch Photo TransparencyMarilyn Monroe Playing Golf Pin Up Original 10x8 Vintage Key Set PhotographMarilyn Monroe Original Vintage 1955 Never Seen Photo Monroe Six CollectionMarilyn Monroe Uso Tour Korean War 1954 Usaf Candid Original Official PhotographJean Harlow Rare Original Candid Hollywood Home Vintage 1930s Mgm Portrait PhotoMarilyn Monroe 1962 Superb Sexy Original Vintage Dblwt Photograph By Allan GrantStriking 1933 Katharine Hepburn Vintage Fine Art Deco Morning Glory PhotographMarilyn Monroe Interview 1953 Beautiful Candid Original Vintage PhotographExcellent Clara Bow Vintage Candid Photo Linen-backed At Home Bedford Drive Vintage 1920's Fantasy Portrait Of Joan Crawford By Ruth Harriet Louise 10 X 13Humphrey Bogart Lauren Bacall Original Vintage 44 To Have And Not Portrait PhotoBette Davis Beautiful Original Vintage 1930s Fryer Warner Bros. Portrait PhotoVintage Original Shirley Temple PhotoBuster Crabbe Handsome Vintage 11x14 John Engstead 1933 Hollywood Original PhotoMarilyn Monroe Arthur Miller Prince & Showgirl 1956 Original Vintage PhotographGrace Kelly & Alfred Hitchcock Candid Original 2.25 X 2.25 Photo TransparencySharon Tate On Trampoline Bikini Original Photo Transparency Slide 2.25 X 2.25Grace Kelly Edmond O'brien Candid 2.25 X 2.25 Photo Transparency Slide OscarsHuge Lot Vintage Photo Negatives Hollywood Autos Children Machines Buildings +++Gene Kelly Original 5x7 Transparency Handsome Star Singin' In The Rain XanaduMari Blanchard Burlesque Pin-up Girl Vintage Abbott & Costello Go To Mars PhotoCandid Audrey Hepburn Taking A Break In Sabrina, Orginal Vintage Photo 1954Vintage 1950s Marilyn Monroe Milton Greene Candid Behind The Scenes PhotographBlow-up Vanessa Redgrave Filming On Set Original Photo Transparency 2 1/4 SlideJacqueline Bisset Beautiful Portrait Photo Transparency Slide Original 2.25x2.25Raquel Welch Raunchy Glamour Pose With Models Original Photo Transparency SlideNancy Kovack '61 Voluptuous Pinup Beautiful Contact Sheet Photograph Peter BaschGreat Candid Pic Of Audrey Hepburn & Billy Wilder Working On Set Of Sabrina 1954Myrna Loy Beautiful Original Vintage 1930s Mgm Studio Portrait PhotoBebe Daniels Beautiful Original Vintage 1920s Richee Paramount Portrait PhotoElizabeth Liz Taylor Beautiful Original Vintage 1956 Giant Mgm Portrait PhotoMarilyn Monroe Meets Queen Elizabeth Ii. Sensational Vintage 1956 Press Photo