People say I have an uncanny ability to know where to put the camera in order to tell the story. It comes naturally to me—maybe because I got my first still camera when I was ten years old and have been making images ever since. But probably also because my mother was a film nut—we went to and talked about movies all the time. We lived across the street from an independent cinema that was owned by a friend’s parents so even when my Mom was at work, I was getting in to see all kinds of crazy films: Buñuel, Kubrick, Mel Brooks, Fellini—some of it rated R, when I was still definitely rated G!
I attended SUNY Purchase where I studied with cinematographer Yuri Neyman (Liquid Sky, DOA), who then hired me on a feature film and commercials. At Purchase, I also devoured a course on film language taught by Tom Gunning where we spent hours and hours dissecting classic cinema with a projector that could freeze frames and move slowly forwards and backwards. Those gave me an understanding of how film language works, what rules you can break, and what you cannot.
I began my career in feature film production at age 23, the beginning of a long working relationship with producer Michael Hausman (Amadeus, Brokeback Mountain, etc.). Hausman is a nurturing producer, always giving eager, talented young filmmakers the opportunity to work at various crafts on movie sets. By the end of that first film, I had moved into the Camera Department, where I have spent my whole working life. I’ve been lucky to work with great, collaborative directors like David Mamet and Sam Raimi; and with brilliant documentarians like Albert Maysles and Michael Apted. I’ve worked on projects ranging from large-scale studio feature films with cranes and green screens to intimate stories where I was the whole camera department—and everything in between.
While I’ve made my living in the movie business, I’ve continued to make still photographs and study the work of still photographers on my own. I love Berenice Abbott for her classic formal work, and also her mentor Eugene Atget. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s intense exactitude inspires me, so does the playful, sometimes outrageous documentary work of Garry Winogrand. I think Philip-Lorca diCorcia’s color work is fantastic.
One way or another, photography has been my life’s work. Every project has its own problems to solve and new ideas to work out—and that’s what keeps me going. I would love to help you make your next film project a great one!