Russell Paul Carpenter
December 9, 1950
|Other names||Russ Carpenter|
|Spouse||Donna Ellen Conrad|
Russell Paul Carpenter, ASC (born December 9, 1950) is an American cinematographer and photographer, 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.
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). 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.
In 2018, Carpenter received the American Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award.
The grandson of a film sound engineer, Carpenter was born in Van Nuys, California in 1950 to a family of six. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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, 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.
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|
|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|
|1998||The Negotiator||F. Gary Gray|
|2001||Shallow Hal||The Farrelly Brothers|
|2003||Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle||McG|
|2009||The Ugly Truth|
|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|
|2017||XXX: Return of Xander Cage||D. J. Caruso|
|2022||Avatar: The Way of Water||James Cameron||Shot back-to-back|
|1996||T2 3-D: Battle Across Time||James Cameron
|Theme park attraction|
Shared credit with Sulejman Medenčević and Peter Anderson
|1997||Michael Jackson's Ghosts||Stan Winston|
|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|
|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
|1993||Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman||Christopher Guest||TV movie|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Seattle Film Critics Society||Best Cinematography||2023||Nominated|
|SoCal Independent Film Festival||Best Cinematography||2014||Parched||Nominated|