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The film begins with the following quotation: "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun-Ecclesiastes." A credit after the main title elaborates: "A film about the fun and art of photography." Louis Clyde Stoumen's principal credit reads: "Written, Directed and Produced by Louis Clyde Stoumen." He also photographed and edited the film. Although the onscreen credits include a 1956 copyright statement, the film was not included in the Copyright Catalog.
The credits state that the film features photographs by the following artists: Weegee, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Ansel Adams, Matthew Brady, Louis Jacques Daguerre, Harold E. Edgerton, William H. Jackson, Nadar, Rosario Mazzeo, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Brett Weston, Cole Weston and "the photographic lifework of Edward Weston." The film features footage of a number of the photographers themselves, with some of the footage, such as that of Weegee and the Weston family, having been shot specifically for The Naked Eye.
The opening credits include the following acknowledgments: "For creative assistance and loan of photographs, grateful thanks to: Duell, Sloane & Pearce, George Eastman House, The Library of Congress, Life Magazine, The Museum of Modern Art and U.S. National Park Service. Scenes from the film The Photographer were photographed by Benjamin Doniger and directed by Willard Van Dyke."
According to a June 13, 1956 Daily Variety news item, after the Production Code Administration originally denied the film a seal due to the inclusion of Edward Weston's photographs of female nudes, PCA administrator Geoffrey Shurlock reversed the decision and stated that Weston is "a great artist." The final few minutes of the film, depicting Weston's work in color, were originally presented in color, but were in black-and-white in the print viewed.
The Naked Eye won the Robert J. Flaherty Award for Creative Achievement in Documentary Films and was screened at the Edinburgh and Venice Film Festivals in 1956. The film received the Award Speciale at Venice and was also nominated for an Academy Award as Best Feature Documentary of 1956. Although the film lost to Jacques-Yves Cousteau's The Silent World, that same year Stoumen won an Oscar for his short documentary The True Story of the Civil War.