You could feel the energy rise as the telephone discussion moved from image composition to digital workflow to future plans. Fashion photographer Joseph Cartright is so digital, so detailed, and so totally plugged into the fashion and photo industries, that his easy rapport with such high-end, high-exposure clients as Victoria's Secret, Ralph Lauren, Halston, L'Oreal is a natural.
CRAZY FOR HUE
Take his recent shoot for La Nouvelle, a French high-end beauty magazine. His challenge was to shoot the February 2002 Valentine issue with a new beauty slant. "Candy is what most people get on Valentine's Day, so we did the candy theme," says Cartright. "It had to work with the makeup and part of the set." The licorice lips image is part of the magazine's super nine-page editorial spread.
Another Cartright classic is the Aveda cosmetics line campaign, represented by the graceful image above and the orange-dressed model. Meant to promote hairstylist Nick Arrojo, the "New Aveda Kid," the photos were created for his salon.
"We wanted really strong, colorful images with the hair complementing the rest of the shoot, not dominating it," he says. For the image, the crew mounted red crepe paper on a pole, and lit the set from the back for a light, unobtrusive texture. For the black-background image, Cartright, fond of unusual materials and textures, picked out a piece of floor rubber. The background has a fun effect on this image. Color, lighting, backgrounds, plus the models, their hair, makeup, and clothes all play together harmoniously, a la Cartright.
Our cover image and both vampy images were shot for La Nouvelle's Red Hot fashion feature, January 2002. "We selected this exquisite Great Neck, New York, house for the shoot because of its warmth and because the clothes fit so naturally into the environment."
A very technical photographer—credit his years in avionics and running his own computer/network company—Cartright generally plans the set and lighting scenarios prior to a shoot. "I spend a great deal of time paying attention to angles. Photographic images are two-dimensional with an implied third dimension. Part of my job is to emphasize that third dimension by using lighting techniques and angular perspectives."
ALL DIGITAL, ALL THE TIME
Applying technology to art—using digital imaging as an art form—is Cartright's forte. "The efficiency and feedback that digital imaging provides is unbeatable."
Cartright just completed a job for Mr. magazine. "It was their first digital shoot. We showed them that you build the creative process as you go along, that style is basically part of the process."
His workflow from capture through output is all digital, all the time. Shooting exclusively with his Contax 645AF—"I chose Contax because it's a brilliant piece of equipment. It feels good in my hand, it's built well, and has great lenses"—and a Phase One LightPhase digital back, he went digital early on because he understood the technology and what it could do. "It was clear that sooner or later all roads would lead to digital," says Cartright.
Operating out of a cutting-edge Fashion District studio that's impressive for its scale, lighting, music, and client accommodations, perhaps its most client-pleasing aspect is its efficient workflow.
He can shoot, edit, and print in minutes. The image-capturing computers are connected to a 36-inch monitor that hangs off a 25-foot ceiling.
"The name of the game is to keep the studio 'hot,' says Cartright. "In our setup, everyone sees the same thing at the same time—immediately. Staff, art, and the creative team are on set prepping, making changes, and resolving issues in real time. The shoot goes fast, on point, and with no question as to what an image is going to look like."
"Militant" about color management, there can be no question that the color they're delivering is accurate. "We color manage every device in our workflow—digital backs, monitors, printers, and even our 36-inch monitor."