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.
“It's the biggest problem facing all of us today, both the archiving and, ultimately, what format the images are going to get left in,” he says. “Is it going to be DNG or PSD or TIFF? For us, the sheer data and amount of information are crippling. For the business day-to-day, we have a level-five RAID; it's a box that has eight 300-gig hard drives in it. For each job, we take two removable hard drives, put them back in their anti-static bags and store them in a lead-shielded bag in a file cabinet. They're only an inch thick, they fit right in the file, and now you have two drives with redundancy and you're saving RAWs and 8-bit files—you have two drives with redundancies in two different formats. You can't spend the time burning DVDs; it's so time-consuming.”
“[There's a company] charging 350 bucks for these shock-resistant, shielded, military-spec drives that are only 60 gigs,” says Grecco. “When we start looking at the numbers, how many of those drives do you need to have redundancy in your own file cabinet? Buy an $80, 120-gig drive, but buy four of them. Give two to the client, put two in your file cabinet for backup. Buy a lead FilmShield bag and drop them in.”
Of Snowfall And A Quest For The Sun
Grecco's route to success wasn't short. He's managing a high volume of valuable digital files, juggling clients and jobs, and constantly sending work to art directors and prospective customers. Although his system for digital workflow is well-wired, it was long experience in both digital and film that brought him to this point. Every successful photographer takes a different route in his or her career. In Grecco's case, his journey has been a particularly interesting one.
“I always knew I was going to be a photographer,” he says. “But it has been sort of a circuitous path.”
As a teenager, Grecco planned on a career in fine-art photography. That changed during the blizzard of 1978, when as a college student he skied and shot his way to an internship at the Boston bureau of the Associated Press. After handing in that first assignment, he remained in photojournalism for 14 years, working for prestigious publications like Time, Newsweek and the Boston Herald—the newspaper that has won the most Pulitzer prizes in photography.
Grecco was a world-class photojournalist, but he still wasn't satisfied. He was less interested in simply capturing moments than he was in having a hand in their creation.
“The artistry was about your timing, rather than your creativity,” he explains of the newspaper work. “A lot of it was circumstance and happenstance. I kept thinking, Why can't I just create this?”
Creatively unfulfilled and weary of the weather, Grecco moved to Los Angeles in 1987, where he continued as a photojournalist, but this time for People magazine. With People, he was able to delve deeper into his love of portraiture, and after four more years it finally hit him.
“My heart wasn't into photojournalism,” says Grecco. “My heart was into more artistic, self-expressive things. Creating scenarios—not just capturing them.”
So Grecco started creating. He left the news business to concentrate on portraiture full time, and in the Southern California sun, the most popular faces belong to celebrities.
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