My Dream…for a Brilliant Campaign

November 12th, 2014

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is to record my world using Instagram. Sometimes these images are shot on my Panasonic GH4 and wified to the phone; sometimes I just use my phone. Taking happy snaps and then doing that Instagram filter thing really excites me. Instagram is the quick version of a Photoshop effect and has become so ubiquitous in our society the word is used as a verb or a noun.

My images are all personal. At times they are life achievements and events going on around me. Other times they are the visuals that I have to stop and shoot. I always keep them as snaps though; to me taking a commercial image that has been retouched and putting it up to Instagram defeats the purpose. Instagramming should be the spontaneous side of your photographic life, the one you get to set free with the medium.

My dream is to someday do an entire magazine travel piece or ad campaign – either all on my phone, or all through Instagram. Below is a collection of my Instagram images I wanted to share with you.

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What I did on my Summer Vacation, an Instagram Story

August 20th, 2014

 

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One of my favorite things to do in the world is to take my daughter, Sophia, on vacation with me. It’s our ‘father-daughter’ thing to do and every year we go to Europe on a food excursion. You see, I taught Sophia to cook, as our ‘father-daughter’ activity when she was 9.

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I showed her how to use a knife properly, explained about spices and how they change at different points in the cooking process, reductions, etc. I taught her everything I know about food types, which was Chinese, Thai, Japanese, French and much Italian cooking. She is now 17 and a fabulous chef. She has well surpassed my skills as a cook; the basics taught to me by my Italian mother and grandmother.

So when Sophia asked me a few years ago to come with her to France, to explore the food of the country, I was thrilled. We have made this our annual excursion – usually adding a week to my trip to the Arles Photo festival – eating with my big girl around France.

This year she wanted to go somewhere different. Being half Italian and enjoying cooking in her family heritage (and boy, is she good), she naturally wanted to try Italy. So we ate and shopped our way around Italy and France, with the help of my girlfriend Gill. We had a particularly good time. The Arles festival was not the best this year, but the time we all had could not be beat!

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My Day with World Champion Joe Torre!

May 14th, 2014

My family is Italian  (my father’s parents were born in Italy), but my mom’s parents grew up in New York City. In fact, my maternal grandparents worked in Harlem and lived in the Bronx, in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. As a kid, Yankee Stadium was impressive. Of course, whenever you are small things always look bigger. Grandpa Jack loved to take me to Yankees games as a child; he exposed me to baseball for the first time. It definitely seemed like a strange and complicated sport to a 6 year old, but I loved going with him and both of us keeping the score card. I saw many greats of the game, including Whitey Ford, Joe Pepitone and Mickey Mantle.

Last month, it was a great pleasure to be asked to photograph Yankees Manager Joe Torre for a campaign for consulting and accountancy firm, Cohen Reznick. It was a crazy shoot -  we had to find an available stadium in the middle of spring training, and make a training stadium look like the “real thing”. I love a challenge! Not only did we get to transform some of the spaces, but I also got to direct a spot for the client with Joe.

The spot and the images are below; please let me know what you think, and give us a call if you have a hybrid still/motion project for me and my team.  – Michael

 

The tunnel at Bright House Field before we dressed it.

The tunnel at Bright House Field before we dressed it.

 

The final image with the great Joe Torre in the tunnel.

The final image with the great Joe Torre in the tunnel.

World Campaign Yankees manager Joe Torre in the dugout at Bright House Field.

World Campaign Yankees manager Joe Torre in the dugout at Bright House Field.

Joe Torre just days before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Joe Torre just days before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame!


Showing at the Photo Independent Art Fair April 25th – 27th

April 21st, 2014

Hi All, So I decided to take a booth at the upstart art fair, Photo Independent, across from Paris Photo this weekend, April 25th through the 27th. I will be showing a body of personal work, The Urban Landscapes Project, which are panoramic images that chronicle my travels around the world while on assignment. The images are colorful and graphic and received rave reviews at Photo LA in January. Please come to the Raleigh Studio Hollywood, 5300 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90038, I will be in Stage #8, Booth #603

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Apple Store, New York, NY; Archival Inkjet Print, 72 x 32; Signed, 1/10

Friday, April 25
Trade Day, 1pm – 5pm
Press Preview, 5pm – 7pm
Opening Night Premiere Party, 7 – 10pm

Saturday, April 26, 11am – 7pm
Sunday, April 27, 11am – 6pm

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Striped Bank, New York, NY; Archival Inkjet Print, 72 x 32; Signed, 1/10

You can get your tickets at the Photo Independent website. Please bring collector friends and photo enthusiasts. For those of you who came to Photo LA, there will be new work exhibited. Below is gallerist W.M. (Bill) Hunt’s review of the work, I think you will enjoy it. See you there!  – Michael

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Red Curtain, New York, NY; Archival Inkjet Print, 72 x 32; Signed, 1/10

Michael Grecco’s night is full of light.

He is a moonwalker, a somnambulist whose conscious and unconscious are not blinded by the brights of oncoming traffic or swallowed into shadows. He is enthralled by the radiance within the blackness, the rapture of color. Grecco’s “Urban Landscapes” are vivid panoramic photographs shot in mostly unidentifiable locations around the world. These places seem alien and exotic, showered in vibrant, lucent, sometimes iridescent almost radioactive colors, revealed in raking rays, squiggles, planes, and circles.

Through long exposure, selective focus, shallow depth of field, blurring and wide framing, he finds his way in the dark and leads us as he dances ecstatically through the color spectrum. In the studio and on location, he is a virtuoso of lighting technique. That skill has obviously sharpened his eye and instincts in locating these chromatic landscapes as he travels the city after dark. Further all of what happens is “in camera”, in his panoramic Hasselblad.

Sixty years ago, the legendary photographer Ernst Haas made this journey. Haas was interested in “transforming an object from what it is to what you want it to be.” Grecco wants to “to contextualize man and his/her place in their environments they create, in the artifices they live in, to go out every day with the intention of breaking visual rules, to create an evocative, cinematic image that inspires – in its format, composition and color” This is the visual music of the night.

W.M. Hunt – Gallerist, Curator


Patrick Dempsey, a.k.a. “McDreamy”

February 11th, 2014

I am blessed. Really. I have been able to do the thing I love – image making – my entire adult life. I am not only blessed because I have been able to do it, but because as I have grown, it has been with clients that appreciate my work – and these relationships have existed for a very long time. Celebrity portrait of Patrick Dempsey for the cover of Forbes Life Magazine by Michael GreccoTake Forbes magazine for instance: in the past few months I have had the honor to shoot two very prominent covers for them. The first was of Patrick Dempsey, a.k.a. “McDreamy.” We spent a Saturday morning with him on his Malibu Estate. I often get involved in all the aspects of a shoot – even wardrobe – so Patrick wore clothes from my favorite menswear designer in the world – John Varvatos.  According to all the ladies that I have conferred with, I did good. Enjoy!20130803_Dempsey_Patrick_MGP_006320130803_Dempsey_Patrick_MGP_0031Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey for Forbes Life by lifestyle photographer Michael Grecco

The second cover shoot was of the boy wunderkinds Evan Spiegel, 23, and Bobby Murphy, 25 of SnapChat. If you haven’t heard, Facebook offered them 3 billion dollars for their company (yes, billion) and they turned them down. This was just pure fun because they did not want to be shot in a static way, given that SnapChat is all about the 9-second photo that then disappears. So I had to bring a sense of fun and immediacy to the images. I love that!SnapChat co-founder Evan Spiegel on Forbes magazine cover by business photographer Michael GreccoThese shoots for me represent the most fun one can have as a photographer (except maybe, possibly, if you are shooting the SI Swimsuit Issue). Please reach out to me or my agents for your next photography project.Snapchat co-founders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy in Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 by commercial photographer Michael GreccoSnapchat co-founders, Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy in Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 by commercial photographer Michael Grecco


Urban Landscape Project at Photo LA

January 8th, 2014


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Schoeler Editions, the Brazilian Publisher of Fine Art Portfolios, will have its first booth ever at Photo LA to celebrate the U.S. release of Michael Grecco’s Urban Landscape Portfolio. The portfolio consists of 11 selected prints from the series in a specially designed Corian box, in a choice of colors. It is the publisher’s most adventurous and luxurious artist portfolio to date. Also exhibited will be six 72″ wide panoramic prints selected from the portfolio. Both the portfolio and the gallery prints will be specially priced for sale at the show.

Please come to the Schoeler Editions booth (#120) at Photo LA, meet the artist, and explore his new work. This will be the first time the work and the portfolio will be exhibited in the U.S. Don’t miss this exciting event! 

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Schedule of Events:

Thursday, January 16, 2014 / Opening Night Reception, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Friday, January 17, 2014 / Public Hours, 11:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday, January 18, 2014  / Public Hours , 11:00am – 7:00pm
Sunday, January 19, 2014 / Public Hours, 11:00am – 6:00pm

Location:
L.A. Mart
1933 Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90007

http://www.photola.com

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The Urban Landscape Images

December 11th, 2013

 

“Daylight is too easy.  What I want is difficult – the atmosphere of lamps and moonlight.”  – Edgar Degas

Everyone thinks that being a photographer is a glamorous life. In fact, it’s often lonely on the road. Please don’t get me wrong, I am crazy about what I do and would never trade it for the world. But after the shoot is over and we’ve had a nice client dinner, photographers are often alone in some exotic location. So, I put that time to good use photographing the light and design that interests me around the world.

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Michael Grecco’s Urban Landscapes portfolio of eleven limited edition signed prints from Shoeler Editions of Brazil

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Michael Grecco’s Urban Landscapes portfolio of eleven limited edition signed prints from Shoeler Editions of Brazil

While speaking in Brazil several years ago I showed the work to publisher Christian Moldanado of Schoeler Editions. They loved it – enough to produce a very unique portfolio in a Corian (as in counter tops) box of varying colors. The esteemed gallerist and curator W.M Hunt wrote the text for the project. Here is a link to the press release.

I came to meet Christian over very sad circumstances. He was friends with my close friend and college buddy Jay Colton, Associate Picture Editor of Time Magazine. Jay and I had worked together for years and years. We loved collaborating together, shot many covers and both really appreciated each others personalty and eye. Jay sent me an email once: “MICHAEL, I LOVE IT WHEN YOU MAKE MY JOB HARD. I threw down and you picked up and ran. I am amazed once again, you are outside your comfort zone and you excelled. You have by far my favorite take in LA and maybe my favorite take in the world. Really interesting novel approach to a difficult situation. I think when you go over this take carefully you are going to find gems in it. Very very happy.”

How could I not love him? I was ready to give him my kidney – literally. We both had a rare blood type, and when Jay was struck ill and needed a kidney, I let him know I was more than willing.

Like myself, Jay loved Brazil, and while there speaking, he had a heart attack during a portfolio review at a photo festival. I was scheduled to keynote the next month at the Brazilian National Photography Convention, so I hunted down Jay’s friends Christian and Luis to find out what happened. This project is the result of the bonding of our friendship to Jay.

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Michael Grecco’s Urban Landscapes portfolio of eleven limited edition signed prints from Shoeler Editions of Brazil

As a side note, I lost the Hasselblad X-pan I used to make these images, and have since purchased Jay’s X-pan from his wife Moira. I will never lose this one!Here is to life and our experiences, both good and bad, may we learn from all of them!  – Michael

For purchase information, please visit SchoelerEditions.com


Harper’s Bazaar Brazil

November 13th, 2013

Sao-Paulo-by-professional-photographer-michael-greccoWhen my parents started dating, my mother aspired to be a Jazz singer; my grandfather owned a Jazz record store in Harlem. (She let that dream go for marriage and the prospect of having children. I guess for me that was a good thing.) Growing up as a kid in NY there was alway music playing, much of it was the burgeoning Brazilian Bossa Nova scene of Antônio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, and Astrud Gilberto. Bossa Nova is the fusion of Brazilian Samba and Jazz. Mother was always singing; this stuck with me so much that my 5th grade project was all about Brazilian life, culture, architecture and government.

So, when Brazilian Harper’s Bazaar asked me to shoot six of the most important designers in Brazilian Fashion, I was more than pleased. I was thrilled to go to Sao Paolo in September, and very excited to be meeting such talent. Four of the images are included here (and on my blog), the Brazilian designers impresarios: Alexandre Herchcovitch, Reinaldo Lourenco, Vitorino Campos, and Carlos Miele with their clothing, friends and favorite models.

The designer Vitorino Campos with his collection.

The designer Vitorino Campos with his collection.

 

Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch with his models friends and stylist.

Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch with his models friends and stylist.

 

Carlos Miele with a piece from his "flowing" collection.

Carlos Miele with a piece from his “flowing” collection.

 

The "King," designer Reinaldo Lourenco is the life of the party.

The “King,” designer Reinaldo Lourenco is the life of the party.

Obrigado,  Michael


My Trip to Lagos, Nigeria

May 28th, 2013

I knew there would be culture shock going from Santa Monica, California to Lagos, Nigeria, but I never expected it to be so profound.

Biggest shocker? Lagos definitely isn’t some little African city nobody’s heard of. Lagos, by most estimates, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In fact, Lagos is the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh fastest growing worldwide. Predictions have been made that Lagos will be the third largest mega city on the planet by 2015! As Americans, we admittedly assume we’re the center of the universe, but the reality is Nigeria alone boasts 170 million people. That’s nearly 60% of the U.S. population in a space the size of Texas.

The symphony of people on the streets in Lagos.

Alongside my naïve assumption that Lagos was “some small city in Africa,” I inaccurately pictured a quaint, easy-to-get-around, not-so-built-up town. Wrong again. Lagos is huge. I mean HUGE! It’s a sprawling, very densely populated city that is crowded and congested like I’ve never seen before in my life.

Can we talk “traffic?” I arrived at Lagos airport at 2:00 p.m. and was in the car until 9:00 p.m. trying to get to dinner arrangements that included a mere pit stop at my hotel to drop off my bags. The traffic was so intense that my colleagues and I literally gave up on our group dinner only to end up back at the hotel. We managed to coax a dinner out of the staff, which took another two hours. Nothing in Lagos is fast. Lol!

I came to learn that Lagosians plan their life around this deplorable amount of traffic, which means they don’t go far nor attempt too many things in a given day. It was amazing to see how adaptive the people were while facing something we’d find so incredibly frustrating here in the states!

Stuck in my car all day shooting out the window!

One day, renowned Photographer Joe McNally (National Geographic) and I set out for an early morning photographers’ photo safari. Fun, right? We got as far as the gate to leave the compound and turned back around. Why? You guessed it. Traffic. It was so unbearable we may have only circled the hotel for several hours, so we took our safari to the hotel restaurant and had breakfast instead. One thing we did see “trying” to head out was that many people live in gated communities or behind barbed wire fences with heavy gates and security guards. And the guards curiously wearing flip-flops. I could not help but think how easily a thief could incapacitate a guard by simply stepping on their toes!

Street art, Lagos Nige

The second day I spoke at NiPHEC, the Nigerian International Photographic Expo and Conference. This was the vision of Seun Akisanmi, a local Lagos photographer who, without sponsorship or much support, pulled off a four-day event. I’m telling you, the logistics could not have been easy. SHOUT OUT TO SEUN!

Arriving at the conference was like arriving as a Hollywood celebrity. I have never had so many people wanting to take pictures with me, in my life! The photo-op did not stop for what seemed like forever, but at the same time, it was the sweetest welcome gesture from such a kind, sincere and appreciative group of people that I may have ever imagined.

A place where newspapers still rule

Lagos the city, with its massive growth, bustling citizens, and intense congestion is prime it for its story to be told in pictures. It’s a photojournalist’s “capture a glimpse of it now” mecca. I hope the conference helped elevate the awareness of photography as art, for photography, parallel to storytelling, is undeniably important to the history of this city and its culture. Photographs of Lagos during this time are literally visual chronicles of a city undergoing immense growing pains, headed for huge transformation. 

A construction worker in Nigeria

 

Fixing the infrastructure of Lagos

There was beauty to be found in my experience, the juxtaposition of many unrelated things. Saturday I walked the streets. We saw the sites and took a few pictures, even though we got hounded by people wanting us to pay a fee to take those pictures. One guy at the beach had fake sanitation tickets and wanted us to pay to see the beach. We refused. I guess if you live there it might make compassionate sense to think of it as a civil tax that helps people survive, but honestly, I’m not there yet.

It’s the rawness of the culture that also allowed us to climb up these towers that were surrounded by dangerous construction material. There, we got a spectacular view of the city as we had climbed up one of the tallest places around. You would have never been allowed to do that in the U.S. because of “liability issues.”

Sunday, there was no traffic as everyone was at church, no really!! Sunday was almost traffic-free. It was awesome! I was finally able to move around the city. I started to get a better understanding for Lagos as a whole. It’s a city clashing against itself, it’s massive size, its growing population, and new found oil revenue. You could even go so far as to compare it the wild wild west during the Gold Rush. Eventually, I can only assume Lagos’ success will force the infrastructure to catch up. After all, a city of this magnitude and capacity cannot feature regular power outages during the day or endure streets with crater-size potholes. I‘m just saying…

And a moment to share my thoughts on the people: We often take for granted the remarkable differences in the lives of people, what sets us apart from each other, miles apart, and I’m not just talking geography. It would be hard to even conceive without witnessing it for yourself. For example, in and amongst the city of Lagos lives a tribe, the Egun. The Egun live in the water of a lagoon, between the mainland and Lagos Island. This tribe exists on wood boats and huts that are built on stilts. The inhabitants sail out to the mouth of the channel and fish, living almost independently from the city dwellers around them. Check out my image, of what is known as the Makoko Slum.

What a gift for me to gaze over at this tribe and their way of life, firsthand. There is beauty to be seen in the diversity found among life across the planet. It just takes me back, leaving me humbled, grateful, and curious. Quite a long ways away from the mind-blowing conveniences are famous estates and the incredible restaurants of my native Santa Monica! How easy it is to forget…

…although I did get to see the The Shrine, the home of one of one of my heros, Afro Beat sensation Fela Kuti. I used my Sony A900 with the SteadyShot anti-shake to capture these last two images at 1/4 second handheld, crazy!

Smokin’ spleef freely at The Shrine, Lagos Nigeria

 

I still don’t get this?


Avatars, The Future, and Big Data: My Largest Group Shot Ever, Sort of…

February 6th, 2013

It’s not every day that you become a part of history. Which is exactly what happened when Rick Smolan – creator of the epic series Day in the Life of America – asked me to shoot his greatest content to date: The Human Face of Big Data. 

This global crowdsourced media project reveals humanity’s quest to collect, analyze, triangulate, and visualize vast amounts of data in real time.

Heralded by The New York Times, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal as “visceral” and “emotional” “that captures a virtual universe” my mission for The Human Face of Big Data was to shoot the faces behind Internet Archives in San Francisco.

Brewster Kahle, the visionary who created Internet Archive and his legendary Wayback Machine, provides the masses with a digital, searchable record of the Internet as it evolves and unfolds. Created in 1996, Internet Archive hosts 10 billion megabytes of information.  That’s roughly 10 million Encyclopedia Britannicas!  And Digital Archive is growing one billion pages every month. 

But who are people who power this massive digital archive?  That’s what this shoot was all about.  Discovering The Human Face of Big Data.

After shooting Smolan’s California cover for his infamous America 24/7 series, he brought me onboard for my experience orchestrating big complicated production shoots.

Because it wasn’t just the people of Internet Archive I was photographing but also their avatars.  Yes, I said avatars.  You see, Kahle rewards longtime employees with a 3-D and incredibly heavy mini-me.

Brester Kale, front row, second from left

After positioning eight people and 63 avatars, I lighted the sanctuary as the flesh and blood counterparts situated themselves next to their ceramic selves.  The incredible result was a two-page spread of 71 “people” caught in one frame, for one moment of time.  Which makes me ask, “Are avatars our new digital faces?” 

What amazes me about Kahle is that he isn’t fazed by Digital Archive’s insane exponential growth.  In fact, that is exactly what he wants. 

Inspired by the vision of ancient Egypt’s Library of Alexandria, he says, “Providing universal access to all human knowledge via the Internet will be remembered as one of the greatest things humankind has ever done… The books of the 20th century are not at the fingertips of my children.  If we don’t [change] that, we’re going to end up with a generation that’s going to learn only [from] corporate stuff or Wikipedia.”

It’s humanizing to think that nothing will replace a face… even behind big data.  But will this last?  I hope so.

View the behind the scenes video of the shoot:

 Reviews of The Human Face of Big Data

“A curious, wonderful beast — a solid slab that captures a virtual universe… This is one of those rare animals that captures its era in the most distinct of ways. It’s the kind of thing you’d put in a time capsule for your children today to show them, long after   you’re gone, what the world was like at the beginning of their lives.”  Huffington Post

“Visceral, emotional and tangible.” — Wired

“Big Data Gets its own Photo Album” The New York Times

“Far more than a coffee table book” The Wall Street Journal

“The obvious gift to give this holiday season is “The Human Face of Big Data” All Things Digital

My cover of the California 24/7 book for the America 24/7 project

 

Venice Beach, America 24/7 Book

 

Venice Beach, America 24/7 Book