Caitlin Cronenberg grew up on her dad David’s movie sets, but when it was time to settle onto her own career path, she chose a different kind of camera. Her photography has appeared in magazines and galleries all over the world. Next week she will shoot some of Hollywood’s shiniest stars in the NKPR IT Lounge during TIFF. Herewith, the celebrated shutterbug shares secrets to her success
Every picture tells a story
When I shoot, I like to create a backstory with my subjects before we start taking pictures – it’s not that anyone else is going to know what the story is, but hopefully it comes through. I recently did a shoot with Sarah Gadon. We went out to Bruce Peninsula and came up with this story: She was a woman in a small town, feeling oppressed by the life that she had chosen and wanting to flee. We had a lot of time for that, but even if I just have a couple minutes with a model, I like to discuss a few words or concepts. I think it’s important to get an idea behind their eyes.
Never mind the scuttlebutt
When I first started reading rumours about myself on the Internet it did bother me. [Hollywood gossip sites have reported on an alleged romantic relationship between Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson, who has starred in two of her dad’s movies.] You realize that something is on the Internet and anyone can read it. Now, I really don’t care. People can say whatever they want about me. I know what’s true. The guy that I’m marrying in five weeks knows what’s true and that’s all that really matters.
Save the drama for the photos
My dad has been working with the same crew for my entire life. They all love each other so much and there is a lot of mutual respect. It’s so important to remember that the people that you work with make what you do possible – everything depends on them. Some people thrive in the high pressure and high drama, but I really don’t. I want everyone on my sets to be comfortable.
You can’t control who you come from
I never expected to get any attention for my work and to be in the public eye, so that was a surprise for me and I honestly wasn’t prepared for [the assumption that I became successful because of my dad]. It was hard to deal with and then you just learn to toughen up and stick to the work. People are quick to jump to certain conclusions when you come from a family that creates art.
Every inch counts
A couple of years ago I curated an exhibition called Red, which was a show of Canadian images from the New York Times Archives. People had some not-so-nice things to say about it, and my friend Natasha Koifman gave me a quote from Andy Warhol which was, “Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you – just measure it in inches.” I thought that was a great way to look at it. Obviously I hope that people like my art and connect with it, but my goal is to create things that I love and that my collaborators are happy with. If people want to write negative things, well at least they’re writing about it. As an artist you work so hard to get your work out there. If people are hating on it or on me, at least they’re looking at it.
Find order in disorder
I try to snuggle with my cats every day, but other than that I have very little consistency in my life which is something I struggle with. I like order and I know that I will never have that. I suppose knowing that I never have it is order enough, but sometimes I am jealous of my friends who can sign up for a class because they know where they’re going to be available every Thursday evening. I can’t do that.
This interview has been condensed and edited.