We love interviews here at All Things Girl and when I noticed a we were crediting “Photo by Marc Cartwright” quite a bit lately, I became intrigued about the Man behind the camera. After chatting with him, I’m sure you will find him even more than intriguing…
Readers may recognize your name from the amazing photos you take but haven’t had an opportunity to learn about the man behind the camera. Tell us about Marc Cartwright.
I grew up on Long Island. I have always had a fascination with Hollywood and knew that I would end up involved somehow. When I was a child, I did lots of commercials and some television appearances, but was always fascinated with what was occurring on the other side of the camera. I was a bit of a nerd growing up so the technical side of things always sparked my interest. Watching the creatives at work, making decisions, seeing their visions come to fruition… though I enjoyed acting, I really wanted to be creating the scene. One of the reasons I love photography, is because it allows you to make mini movies with less of a time commitment.
You didn’t intend to be a photographer when you went to NYU. When did you discover that you loved photography and wanted to take your career in that direction?
I went to NYU to study the relationship between media and society. I have always been fascinated by psychology, especially the psychology of the masses. During my last semester at NYU, I had to fulfill an art requirement. I had always wanted to explore photography and this was the perfect opportunity. My professor was one of the most interesting people I had met at NYU and turned my requirement into a passion. Her love of the art and how she saw photography allowed me to look at it and myself in a completely different light. I could show the world the way I saw things through my eyes. So I began photographing around New York and things grew from there. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles, however, that I saw photography as a career. I was asked model for a magazine cover and while on the shoot, began talking with the photographer about his experience as a photographer. Through this conversation, the idea of a career in photography became a reality.
Is there a role model, mentor, or other person who helped you along the road to success? Is there someone you act as a mentor for?
Without a doubt, my family was the largest inspiration, mentor and support during my journey. They taught me to believe in myself and always helped me find a way to achieve my goals while teaching me to work hard for them. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the support and interest in my future that my family offered me.
As far as a photography mentor, I worked a lot with Greg Endries when I first started. He gave me a huge chance when I knew nothing about photo shoots. I currently have interns that I work with.
What do you love most about your work? And on the flip side, what do you like the least?
What I love most about photography is that you get to travel and meet new people. You get to dream big and see your visions come alive in front of you. You get to show people how you see the world. I love to see people feel beautiful. When they look at a picture and are proud to be in their own skin. I tend to not like shooting fashion as much because I don’t care as much about clothes, People intrigue me. Personalities. Watching a person walk in nervous or insecure, creating a comfortable space for them and watching them walk out proud and happy. That is why I do this.
There isn’t much I don’t like about photography… I don’t like when people in the image-making world take themselves too seriously. It stops becoming fun for people when there are attitudes. I’d rather end a shoot than deal with a negative attitude. Art should be fun. We aren’t curing cancer; we are playing dress up and make-believe to outwardly express our inner vision. I believe in working hard and with integrity… And that can be done with a smile. J
What does the average person not understand about the work and life of a celebrity photographer? Can you tell us how an “average” shoot goes?
A lot of people ask me if celebs are nice or if photographing them is easier or harder than photographing non-celebrities. Personally, I have had really great luck with the people I have worked with. Everyone has been kind and interested in my work. There haven’t been any melt downs or cell phones being thrown at my head. Being photographed is very intimate. I think like anyone, celebrities have their comforts and discomforts in front of the lens. I have had actors who are terrified of the still camera. The fun though is making people feel comfortable and confident while being photographed.
Each photo shoot is different. I try to tailor the shoot to the personality of the person being photographed.
Who have been your favorite folks to work with? And do you have an all-time favorite photograph you’ve taken?
I have been pretty lucky with the people I have worked with. Everyone has been open to trying new things and trusting me. One of the shoots that stick out in my mind was with Lou Diamond Phillips. He was HILARIOUS! Such a present, open person, full of warmth. While we were shooting he was giving me so many faces and moods, I didn’t want to stop shooting. He was having fun and that is a photographers dream.
My favorite photograph is of Sara Paxton and Josh Kloss. It is from a sci-fi shoot that I did called “The Mechanical Suitor”. In this particular photograph, Sara Paxton is building a robot man (played by Josh Kloss, of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” music video). I used CGI to make Josh into a robot under construction. I really want to do another sci-fi shoot soon.
How do you connect with your subjects so that they come to life?
I try to be authentic with my subjects. Seeing what they need, so that they can be in the moment. People will usually make you aware, if you listen (or I ask.). I try to learn about who they are beforehand so that we have something to talk about. I like to make fun of myself sometimes. I like everyone to understand that we are there together as a team to create the images.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am inspired by movies and surprisingly very inspired by music. Songs create imagery. Music is probably my first love but I have never really wanted to be a part of the recording industry. When I am editing photos, I am usually playing one song on repeat to get the mood.
I am inspired by New York City in the late 1970s and 1980s. Helmut Newton. I am inspired by early Twentieth Century Americana.
What are your top three pieces of advice to anyone needing to prepare for a professional photo shoot?
- Rest and drink lots of water the days before.
- Have dialog in your mind while shooting so that you have something going on behind the eyes and aren’t focused on the fact that there is a camera staring at you.
- Be nice to your photographer and bring him lots of presents.
Where do your passions lie outside of photography?
I love music. In the past I bought a bunch of recording equipment and learned guitar and piano. I would stay up working on songs all night! Once I chose photography, I sold all of my recording equipment and bought cameras and photo equipment.
I’m obsessed with Ebay. I like collecting things from the early 1900’s. At the moment I am collecting Vanity Fair magazines from the 1920’s and early 1930’s.
My other interests are travel, visiting beach cities or the desert, home décor, going out to eat.
It’s a typical Sunday. Where would we find Marc Cartwright? And what would he be doing?
Typically, I am photographing in the morning. Then I will prepare for the weeks shoots OR go hang out on the California coast with friends. I have also been known to take random but relaxing whimsical drives out to the desert (Joshua Tree or Palm Springs) on the weekends.
If we wanted to connect with you, would we find you on Twitter, Facebook, etc?