Russell Carpenter

Russell Paul Carpenter, ASC (born December 9, 1950) is an American cinematographer[1][2] and photographer.[3] He shot the 1997 Best Picture-winning film Titanic,[4] for which he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.[5] Much of his work as director of photography has been in iconic blockbuster films, including: True Lies, Ant-man, XXX: Return of Xander Cage, This Means War, Monster-in-Law, Charlie's Angels (2000), its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and many more.[6] In addition, some of his work has been in independent and genre cinema with films, including: Parched, Critters 2: The Main Course, The Lawnmower Man, and Hard Target.

Russell Carpenter
Russell Paul Carpenter

(1950-12-09) December 9, 1950
Other namesRuss Carpenter
Paul Carpenter
Years active1978-present
Spouse(s)Donna Ellen Conrad
AwardsAcademy Award for Best Cinematography
1997 Titanic

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.[7] After his parents divorced in 1960, he moved with his mother and 4 siblings to Orange County, where he took up Super 8 films as a hobby.[7] He enrolled in 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.[7]


Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Carpenter worked as a director of photography 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. Due to difficulties arising in financing and distribution, the film was not released until 1989.[8] His first major studio film was Critters 2: The Main Course, written and directed by Mick Garris. The Los Angeles Times criticized the film but praised Carpenter's cinematography.[9] Two years later, he shot his first science fiction film, Solar Crisis, and his first action film with Death Warrant starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. After shooting several episodes of the television series The Wonder Years, he worked on The Lawnmower Man.

During the production of the John Woo-directed action film Hard Target, Russell Carpenter and James Cameron met at the home of Edward Furlong, during his 15th birthday party. Russell was the DP for Furlong's movie Pet Semetary 2. leading to the two collaborating on the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger action comedy True Lies,[7] Carpenter replaced Cameron's previous director of photography Adam Greenberg. Their following collaboration, Titanic, earned Carpenter both an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases.


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 the 1988 horror-comedy Critters 2: The Main Course.

His work on the 1997 film Titanic earned him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, a nomination for a BAFTA Award, as well as numerous other accolades.

Personal life

Carpenter is alumnus of Van Nuys High School and San Diego State University. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).

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


Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Film Director Other notes
1983 The Wizard of Speed and Time Mike Jittlov
1984 Sole Survivor Thom Eberhardt
1988 Lady in White Frank LaLoggia
Cameron's Closet Armand Mastroianni
Critters 2: The Main Course Mick Garris
1990 Solar Crisis Richard C. Sarafian
Death Warrant Deran Sarafian
Redlands Joan Taylor Short film
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 James Cameron
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard Frank Oz
1996 T2 3-D: Battle Across Time James Cameron
John Bruno
Stan Winston
Theme park attraction

Co-cinematographer with Sulejman Medenčević & Peter Anderson

1997 Michael Jackson's Ghosts Stan Winston Short film
Money Talks Brett Ratner Co-cinematographer with Robert Primes
Titanic James Cameron Academy Award for Best Cinematography
ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- BSC Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
1998 The Negotiator F. Gary Gray
2000 Charlie's Angels McG 1st collaboration with McG
2001 Shallow Hal The Farrelly Brothers
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle McG
2004 Noel Chazz Palminteri
2005 Monster-in-Law Robert Luketic First collaboration with Robert Luketic
2007 Awake Joby Harold
Lucifer Ray Griggs Short film
2008 21 Robert Luketic
2009 Locker 13 Matthew Mebane Segment: "Down and Out"
The Ugly Truth Robert Luketic
2010 Killers
2011 A Little Bit of Heaven Nicole Kassell
George Harrison: Living in the Material World Martin Scorsese Documentary film
Co-cinematographer with Robert Richardson & Martin Kenzie
2012 This Means War McG
2013 Jobs Joshua Michael Stern
2014 Sins of the Father Rachel Howard Short film
Return to Sender Fouad Mikati
Beyond the Reach Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
2015 Parched Leena Yadav
Ant-Man Peyton Reed
2016 The Final Adventure of John & Eleanor Greene Matthew Mebane Short film
2017 XXX: Return of Xander Cage D. J. Caruso
2019 Noelle Marc Lawrence
2021 Avatar 2 James Cameron Post-production[10][11]
Shot back-to-back
2023 Avatar 3

Additional photography credit

Year Film Director Cinematographer Other notes
1986 Critters Stephen Herek Tim Suhrstedt Additional photography
1988 Lucky Stiff Anthony Perkins Jacques Haitkin
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Renny Harlin Steven Fierberg
1989 Puppet Master David Schmoeller Sergio Salvati
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Stephen Hopkins Peter Levy Second unit photography
Pet Sematary Mary Lambert Peter Stein Additional photography
2003 The Human Stain Robert Benton Jean-Yves Escoffier


Year Film Other notes
1985 The Lemon Grove Incident Documentary special
1987 Rolling Stone Presents Twenty Years of Rock & Roll
1988 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "No Means No"
1991 The Wonder Years 4 episodes
1993 Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman Television film


  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. "Canon DLC: Bio: Russell Carpenter, ASC". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  8. "Mike Jittlov's "The Wizard of Speed and Time": His Life's A Special Effect!". 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. "Russell Carpenter To Receive ASC Lifetime Achievement Award". Shoot. October 5, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  11. Geoff Boucher (November 14, 2018). "James Cameron: The 'Avatar' Sequels Have Wrapped Production". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
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