Robert Catto is a Canadian photographer now living in Sydney Australia, specialising in performing arts, live events, editorial and corporate / commercial work.
Having trained as a lighting designer for theatre, dance and opera, his work is driven by that experience and his knowledge of how to light a subject for an audience. “Photography is quite similar to lighting in a lot of ways – except the camera is the audience, rather than the source of light,” he says.
Having spent time as a box office manager in Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand, he’s also developed a keen eye for the kind of images that attract people. “It’s pretty easy to see from most marketing which shows are going to sell, and which aren’t – it’s almost always a single image that does or doesn’t work for the show.”
His recent work has included:
- the Hobbit, Lord Of The Rings, King Kong and The Lovely Bones film premieres in Wellington;
- the Toronto International Film Festival;
- the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate, Icon and New Generation awards;
- Belvoir Theatre;
- the Wellington Region Gold Awards;
- the Sydney Youth Orchestras, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra and Vector Wellington Orchestra;
- Subway Stage Challenge;
- corporate hosting events around the British & Irish Lions rugby tour;
- the Wellington International Jazz Festival, and
- the New Zealand International Arts Festival, from 2004 to 2012.
Some of the places his work has appeared are:
- the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Hollywood Reporter, Canada’s Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, the BBC, the Scotsman, the Scottish Daily Record, the Melbourne Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the New Zealand Herald, and the Dominion Post;
- Marie Claire, Sx and Time Out (Australia), Organic Style (US), l’Actualité (Canada), Meridiani (Italy), as well as Metro, North And South, Rip It Up, OnFilm, and the Listener magazines in New Zealand;
- the official ‘Making Of The Lord Of The Rings’ book and Fan Club magazine;
- the cover of a book of poetry by Vincent O’Sullivan, and the author portrait for Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries;
- and brochures, album covers, posters and websites for clients around the world.
“If there’s one element that ties together my work, it is the feeling of being involved, rather than a spectator,” says Robert. “That’s what I aim for in any image, to capture or distill the essence of that instant – whether it’s that key detail which summarises a certain place, or the perfect second of an event.”
And as if that wasn’t enough, he plays a photographer in Peter Jackson’s King Kong, as well!
Robert is a member of the ACMP, and has been a guest speaker at the PSNZ and AIPA Image Nation national conferences, photographic societies around the country, and at the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa. He also leads workshops on low-light photography. Articles on his work have appeared in D-Photo, The Photographers Mail, and F11 magazines.
(And, for those who were wondering: it’s pronounced CAT-oh, like a cat, rather than KAY-Toe, like a cake.)