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.
A Change Of Vision
There are perhaps no greater polar opposites in the world of photography than hard news and celebrity portraiture, yet Grecco has managed to excel at both. At its core, he knows that photography is all about storytelling.
Explains Grecco, “Although you're telling a story in a completely different way, it's not literal, it's abstract. It doesn't have to be as literal and as nailed down and as obvious.
“The overall look and lighting of my work is face-centric,” he says. “People are lit with spotlights, and the face is prominent and it's about the expression. I've always had that love of the portrait.”
Although they're some of the most image-savvy people on the planet, Grecco says you never know what to expect when it comes to photographing celebrities. That's what keeps it interesting.
“Celebrities are as varied as anyone else,” he says. “Unless the publicist comes along, there could be very little difference. The thing with any important person, whether it's a celebrity or a CEO, with anyone whose time is precious, you have to be conscious of that. You have to be on your game and you can't fool around. You have to be professional.”
Grecco counts on collaboration and spontaneity to make his images work. Although many of his shoots require extensive pre-production and planning, he knows that without spontaneity, the shots won't be convincing. Working with image-savvy celebrities can cut both ways. They can be skeptical of the photographer's concept or they can contribute valuable ideas essential for success. With his 2003 photograph of actress Teri Hatcher, Grecco experienced both.
“The concept was that I wanted her to be vulnerable and at the same time relate to when she was doing [the television show] Lois & Clark and write ‘Help! Superman!' on the wall,” he explains. “She was like, ‘Nah, I don't want to be tied to the show. But I'll take my clothes off and you can tie me up.' When people find the rest of the idea sexy or are willing to go with it, that's great.”
Unlocking The Door Of Success
Many photographers would love to have Grecco's problems—shooting so much for so many clients that it's difficult to find time to fit it all in. But Grecco is proof of just how doable it is. Whether it's a famous face or a newsmaker, shot digitally or on film, the same photographic rules apply.
“Start small and persevere,” he offers. “You just need to keep going at it. Get your in where you can—don't sell your soul to do it and don't sell the farm to do it, but make a good portfolio, get it seen. Take little baby steps and persevere.”
Michael Grecco's Equipment
Hasselblad H-1 with film and Leaf Valeo 22 digital back
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II digital cameras
Apple G4 PowerBooks and G5 dual-processor computer with 4 GB RAM
Apple 23-inch Cinema Displays (for the road) and LaCie Blue CRT Displays (in studio)
GretagMacbeth Eye-One system (for calibration)
To see more of Michael Grecco's photography, visit www.michaelgrecco.com.