Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Michael Grecco - Famous Faces
Celebrity portraiture can be an endeavor of limited creativity. For Michael Grecco, his collaborative process and ability to identify with his subjects lifts the barriers to making unique images.
Michael Grecco is a busy guy. When he's not photographing models, he's shooting famous actors. If it's not actors, it might be rock stars. Or artists. Or CEOs. He's always working, probably even right this moment. It's all he has ever done.
The Digital Big Time
Like so many pros today, Grecco will use any tool for any job; that includes digital cameras as well as film. He's equally comfortable with both, and he insists he has no default preference.
“I was the guy who did the first ad for the Kodak Pro back about four years ago,” says Grecco. “That was my first entrée into shooting digitally. We would use it when we needed to use it, but we had issues with it. I didn't love the way the skin tones were happening with the camera, and it took so long to retouch and get the image we liked that we realized it wasn't the easiest workflow in the world. Because of that, we were hesitant to use it regularly.”
After a few years (and several lifetimes in digital cameras), Grecco and his team are now confident with their digital workflow. In his studio, where no job is simple and he delivers his clients museum-quality prints as often as disks of image files, that's no small accomplishment. He can choose film or digital for any job, weighing the client's preferences with the practicality of their preferred medium.
“A week ago, we shot 1,500 or 1,600 16-bit captures at 110 megabytes apiece,” he explains. “This client wanted digital—and it made sense. Sometimes, in a rush, film can be faster, or on a small job, instead of bringing a digital technician and a G5, or an editorial job where I like the look of pushing color negative because I push it to get it punchy—when you're shooting eight rolls of film on a small editorial job, color negative is easier.”
Adds Grecco, “Every job is carried out within the needs of the job and the comfort zone of the client. There are jobs where a client has bought a year's worth of advertising and they might use different images—a hand from here and a finger from there, a body from here and a head from there—the ad is one big composite. They wanted the majority of the photos from the take. Part of the reason we're choosing digital on a lot of jobs is that when you're doing a large job like that, it makes logistical and economic sense to do it digitally. On a shoot with the client, the digital thing is great because the shoot becomes instantly collaborative.”
It's clear that Grecco doesn't think every job must be digital; neither does he claim that film is the only way to go. For him, they're simply different media with different advantages, and they meet particular needs for particular jobs. But Grecco is proof that—given the right budget, the right client and the right skills—any job can be a digital job.
For the half of his high-end commercial and advertising jobs where he's not shooting film, Grecco now uses a Leaf Valeo digital back to make captures with 100-plus-megabyte file sizes. He recently sold all of his 35mm film cameras to purchase two new Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II bodies for use on editorial assignments. With such quality digital cameras in hand, it's easy to see how the sea of huge image files could overrun a studio—even one as well-staffed as his. So as part of streamlining the workflow, Grecco puts a lot of energy into managing all the bits and bytes.