Russell Carpenter

Russell Paul Carpenter, is an American cinematographer and photographer. He shot the 1997 Best Picture-winning film Titanic, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Much of his work as director of photography has been in iconic blockbuster films, including: True Lies, Ant-Man, ', This Means War, Monster-in-Law, Charlie's Angels , its sequel ', and many more. In addition, some of his work has been in independent and genre cinema with films, including: Parched,, The Lawnmower Man, and Hard Target.

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. 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. 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.


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. His first major studio film was , written and directed by Mick Garris. The Los Angeles Times criticized the film but praised Carpenter's cinematography. 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, 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 .
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.
Carpenter is married to Donna Ellen Conrad and has one son, Graham, a stepson Zak Selbert, daughter-in-law Gaudia Correia, and two granddaughters.



Short films
1990RedlandsJoan Taylor
1997Michael Jackson's GhostsStan Winston
2007LuciferRay Griggs
2009Down and OutMatthew MebaneSegment of Locker 13
2014Sins of the FatherRachel Howard
2016The Final Adventure of John & Eleanor GreeneMatthew Mebane

Additional photography credit
1986CrittersStephen HerekTim SuhrstedtAdditional photography
1988Lucky StiffAnthony PerkinsJacques HaitkinAdditional photography
1988'Renny HarlinSteven FierbergAdditional photography
1989Puppet MasterDavid SchmoellerSergio SalvatiAdditional photography
1989'Stephen HopkinsPeter LevySecond unit photography
1989Pet SemataryMary LambertPeter SteinAdditional photography
2003The Human StainRobert BentonJean-Yves EscoffierAdditional photography