Russell Carpenter
Russell Paul Carpenter

(1950-12-09) December 9, 1950 (age 72)
Other namesRuss Carpenter
Paul Carpenter
Years active1978-present
SpouseDonna Ellen Conrad
AwardsSee awards

Russell Paul Carpenter, ASC (born December 9, 1950) is an American cinematographer[1][2] and photographer,[3] known for collaborating with directors James Cameron, Robert Luketic and McG. He won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the 1997 Best Picture-winning film Titanic.[4][5]

Much of his work has been in blockbuster films, including Hard Target (1993), True Lies (1994), Charlie's Angels (2000) and its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Ant-Man (2015), and Avatar: The Way of Water (2023).[6] His documentary cinematography includes George Harrison: Living in the Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese. It earned six nominations at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming for the cinematography team.[7]

In 2018, Carpenter received the American Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award.

Early life and education

The grandson of a film sound engineer, Carpenter was born in Van Nuys, California in 1950 to a family of six.[8] After his parents divorced in 1960, he moved with his mother and three siblings to Orange County, where he took up Super 8 films as a hobby.[8]

After graduating from Van Nuys High School, he enrolled at San Diego State University to study television directing, but later changed his major to English. To pay for school, he worked at a local public broadcasting channel, where he learned the ropes of documentary filmmaking. After graduating, he moved back to Orange County, where he shot educational films and documentaries.[8]


Carpenter is most widely known for his early work in horror and genre cinema and for his collaborations with directors James Cameron, McG, and Robert Luketic. His first major project as Director of Photography was, Lady in White. It was followed by Critters 2: The Main Course, written and directed by Mick Garris. The Los Angeles Times criticized the film but praised Carpenter's cinematography.[9]

Carpenter had earlier worked as a Director of Photography (DP) on numerous low-budget horror films like Sole Survivor and Cameron's Closet. In 1983, he shot The Wizard of Speed and Time, a special effects-laden experimental film directed by animator Mike Jittlov.[10] His first major studio film was Critters 2: The Main Course. Two years later, he shot his first science fiction film, Solar Crisis, and his first action film Death Warrant starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. After shooting several episodes of the television series The Wonder Years, he worked on The Lawnmower Man.

Carpenter met James Cameron during the production of the John Woo-directed action film Hard Target, who hired him on the basis of his work on Lady in White to shoot his 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis action comedy True Lies,[8] and the 1996 Universal Studios attraction T2 3-D: Battle Across Time. Their next collaboration, Titanic, carried away 11 Oscars in 1997, including Best Picture and Best Cinematography. Carpenter's work on Titanic earned him nine industry awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award.

They worked together again on Avatar: The Way of Water and the upcoming Avatar 3.[11][12]

Personal life

Carpenter is married to Donna Ellen Conrad and has one son, Graham (from a previous marriage), a stepson Zak Selbert, a daughter-in-law Gaudia Correia, and two granddaughters.

He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).


Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Director Notes
1984 Sole Survivor Thom Eberhardt
1988 Lady in White Frank LaLoggia
Cameron's Closet Armand Mastroianni
The Wizard of Speed and Time Mike Jittlov
Critters 2: The Main Course Mick Garris
1990 Solar Crisis Richard C. Sarafian
Death Warrant Deran Sarafian
1991 The Perfect Weapon Mark DiSalle
1992 The Lawnmower Man Brett Leonard
Pet Sematary Two Mary Lambert
1993 Hard Target John Woo
1994 True Lies James Cameron 1st collaboration with Cameron
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard Frank Oz
1997 Money Talks Brett Ratner Shared credit with Robert Primes
Titanic James Cameron
1998 The Negotiator F. Gary Gray
2000 Charlie's Angels McG
2001 Shallow Hal The Farrelly Brothers
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle McG
2004 Noel Chazz Palminteri
2005 Monster-in-Law Robert Luketic
2007 Awake Joby Harold
2008 21 Robert Luketic
2009 The Ugly Truth
2010 Killers
2011 A Little Bit of Heaven Nicole Kassell
2012 This Means War McG
2013 Jobs Joshua Michael Stern
2014 Return to Sender Fouad Mikati
Beyond the Reach Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
2015 Parched Leena Yadav Also credited as co-executive producer
Ant-Man Peyton Reed
2017 XXX: Return of Xander Cage D. J. Caruso
2019 Noelle Marc Lawrence
2022 Avatar: The Way of Water James Cameron Shot back-to-back
2025 Avatar 3[11][12]

Short films

Year Title Director Notes
1990 Redlands Joan Taylor
1996 T2 3-D: Battle Across Time James Cameron
John Bruno
Stan Winston
Theme park attraction
Shared credit with Sulejman Medenčević and Peter Anderson
1997 Michael Jackson's Ghosts Stan Winston
2007 Lucifer Ray Griggs
2009 Down and Out Matthew Mebane Segment of Locker 13
2014 Sins of the Father Rachel Howard Also credited as producer
2016 The Final Adventure of John & Eleanor Greene Matthew Mebane


Year Title Director Notes
1985 The Lemon Grove Incident Frank Christopher Documentary special
1987 Rolling Stone Presents Twenty Years of Rock & Roll Malcolm Leo
1988 CBS Schoolbreak Special Jeffrey Auerbach Episode "No Means No"
1991 The Wonder Years Jeffrey Auerbach
Nick Marck
Ken Topolsky
Lyndall Hobbs
4 episodes
1993 Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman Christopher Guest TV movie
2013 Guilty McG

Other credits

Additional photogrpahy

Year Title Director DoP.
1986 Critters Stephen Herek Tim Suhrstedt
1988 Lucky Stiff Anthony Perkins Jacques Haitkin
1989 Puppet Master David Schmoeller Sergio Salvati
Pet Sematary Mary Lambert Peter Stein
2003 The Human Stain Robert Benton Jean-Yves Escoffier


Year Title Director DoP. Notes
1988 A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Renny Harlin Steven Fierberg 3rd unit photography
1989 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Stephen Hopkins Peter Levy Second unit photography
2022 Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Sam Raimi John Mathieson Director of photography: Los Angeles unit

Awards and nominations

Institution Category Year Work Result
Academy Award Best Cinematography 1998 Titanic Won
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography 1998 Won
Lifetime Achievement Award 2018 Won
Austin Film Critics Association Best Cinematography 2023 Avatar: The Way of Water Nominated
British Academy Film Award Best Cinematography 1998 Titanic Nominated
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography in a Theatrical Feature Film 1997 Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Cinematography 1998 Won
Columbus Film Critics Association Best Cinematography 2023 Avatar: The Way of Water Nominated
Critics Association of Central Florida Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Best Cinematography 1998 Titanic Won
2023 Avatar: The Way of Water Won
Hawaii Film Critics Society Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Hollywood Critics Association Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Best Cinematography 1998 Titanic Won
Music City Film Critics' Association Best Cinematography 2023 Avatar: The Way of Water Won
North Carolina Film Critics Association Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Portland Critics Association Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
Satellite Award Best Cinematography 1998 Nominated
2023 Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society Best Cinematography 2023 Nominated
SoCal Independent Film Festival Best Cinematography 2014 Parched Nominated


  1. ^ "Russell Carpenter, ASC – Features Montage". Worldwide Production Agency | WPA. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  2. ^ Staff, (2015-02-06). "Russell Carpenter | Biography and Filmography | 1950". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  3. ^ "C.Q. | The Photography of Russell Carpenter | Roni Keller". Cultural Weekly. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  4. ^ "Titanic's Cinematographer Russell Carpenter - MovieMaker Magazine". MovieMaker Magazine. 1998-07-02. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  5. ^ "True Luminaries: Russell Carpenter - page 3". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  6. ^ "Russell Carpenter". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  7. ^ "George Harrison: Living In The Material World Awards & Nominations". 16 September 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d "Canon DLC: Bio: Russell Carpenter, ASC". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  9. ^ WILMINGTON, MICHAEL (1988-04-29). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Critters 2": Once More With Even Less Taste". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  10. ^ "Mike Jittlov's "The Wizard of Speed and Time": His Life's A Special Effect!". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  11. ^ a b "Russell Carpenter To Receive ASC Lifetime Achievement Award". Shoot. October 5, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  12. ^ a b Geoff Boucher (November 14, 2018). "James Cameron: The 'Avatar' Sequels Have Wrapped Production". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 14, 2018.