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.

photo layout (l2)


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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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


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


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?


Cool Summer in Santa Monica

July 11th, 2012

 
Wow, it’s mid Summer already. It’s been a packed Spring and Summer.

Did you know “May is International Professional Photographers Month”? Photography is such a part of our lives that we can take it for granted but that’s not happening at the International Photographic Council (ICP), a non-governmental organization (NGO) of the United Nations. They presented eight IPC Professional Photographer Leadership Awards during the 13th Annual IPC Pro Award Luncheon, at the United Nations in New York City. I was honored to receive this esteemed award that recognizes and celebrates photographers as artists, leaders and powerful influencers.

Receiving the IPC Professional Photographer Leadership Awards at the United Nation.

 

My cool United Nations hardware.

 May 20th was my birthday. My kids and I celebrated with dinner. Sometimes the best present is just chillin’ with them, ya know what I mean? 🙂 Birthday’s are really our own individual “New Year’s” and I take time to think about what worked well and what might work better. Being a photographic artist continues to move me as an artist and influence my journey. I am collaborating with performance artist Tiffany Trenda on a project entitled “Loss.” We are exploring the idea of loss of wholeness in the female body when an amputation or disfigurement of any kind has occurred and our response to that change: our judgments, fears, acceptance and integration. What’s your response? Click and share your comments if you dare!

My collaboration with performance artist Tiffany Trenda on a project entitled “Loss.”

 

We are exploring the idea of loss of wholeness in the female body when an amputation or disfigurement of any kind has occurred and our response to that change.

 In June, we were thrilled to shoot Casio’s hottest new calculator. Danica McKellar anchored the day with her brains, beauty, professionalism and sizzle. Pairing Casio calculators and Danica McKellar may be the best thing to happen to math since Pythagoras! Danica has four books published by Penguin books, Math Doesn’t Suck (2007), Kiss My Math (2008) and Hot X: Algebra Exposed (2010) are all New York Times bestsellers. Her fourth book, Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape (2012), hits the shelves this August. Math has never been so cool and fun.

July we were jamming with Jane Lynch on a shoot for National College Finance Center. NCFC is all about paying for college. Hhmmm, Casio & Danica, NCFC & Jane, looks like we’ve got a theme going on. I’m all about empowering our kids with education and the tools they need to rock.

Well, thanks for stopping by and checking out what we’re up to. If you have questions or want to know about a project in particular, write in and let me know.

I’m off on my Vespa to scope out what’s happening in Venice, California that is.

Cheers,

Michael


The Total Look at MOCA / Pacific Design Center

March 8th, 2012

 
I went to this amazing opening at the MOCA / Pacific Design Center of the late Bill Claxton’s images of his wife/muse/model Peggy Moffit in the designs of 60?s genius Rudi Gernreich. It’s a must see if you like the photography and fashions from that period. The exhibition is entitled The Total Look and runs until May 20th.

 


THE YEAR OF THE DRAGON

March 8th, 2012

 
The 23rd of January marked the beginning of the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, the New Year. In the spirit of this tradition, our family gathers and reunites with other families in our area who also adopted children from an orphanage in Shanghai. This year is exceptionally special because my daughter, Zoey and several of her “cousins” of the same age celebrate the sign of their birth year, the Dragon (see image below). The Year of the Dragon only occurs every 12th year and is thought to be the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac. Since the last Year of the Dragon brought Zoey into my life, I can hardly imagine the wonderfully lucky things 2012 will bring.

It seems that the Dragon wasted no time, striking with several multi-image campaigns for Botox that required large castings and custom built sets. I also shot Kathy Ireland for the cover of Forbes Magazine. The former super model is now quite the business mogul. Every photographer wants to shoot a super model, but I live to shoot the super model with a fabulous story to tell (see below).

Lastly, I’d like to brag about my oldest son, Dakota. He’s been putting his video game prowess to good use, adding some cash to his college fund. A few months ago, I threw him a challenge: convert my best-selling book, Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait to an eBook. Look on your iPad, Kindle or Nook and you’ll see that he did it!

If the eBook interests you, consider attending my Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait workshop in Hawaii next month. It’ll be a chance to put all of the business aside and reconnect with the art of photography.  –  Michael

Zoey, in red, celebrates the New Year

Kathy’s cover


Vespa is the New Black

March 8th, 2012

 
I did it!  My Vespa experience in Paris was so great that I had to have one of my own.  Now I’m tooling around LA on my new vintage-style Vespa and my cool Ruby Helmet.  My kids used to request their goodbye hug a few blocks from school, now they’re holding on as tight as they can all the way to the front door for everyone to see.  I love that and, BONUS, it only costs me $3.89 a week for gas!

My friends from Hasselblad poked some friendly fun at my Vespa over dinner the other night so my crew and I decided show them how undeniably cool it really is. I’m sure you’ll agree.

Speaking of stylish ways to get around. I shot some great stuff for Porsche recently.  These great shots were totally worth the hour we spent wading in the freezing cold water waiting for just the right shot.  This shot of the Cayenne S splashing through the stream in Sedona, AZ will be out in Porsche’s speed centric newsletter shortly.

I’m also proud to report that I was one of 11 photographers in a show on Capitol Hill called Recording Our History: Faces Behind the Camera. The show featured my shot of Johnny Cash, always a favorite of mine.  I’ve always been a fan and I’m still tickled thinking of how he introduced himself by extending his warm hand and saying “Hi Michael.  I’m Johnny Cash.” (just as he did on his weekly TV show)

On a parting note, I hope that you’ll wander over to my new “raves” page. I’d love to have a rave from you as well.

Take Care,

Michael


Photo Travelogue – Brazil

November 30th, 2010

I recently spoke at the Brazilian National Photography Congress in Sao Paulo. The event was held in one of the modernist buildings of the Memorial da America Latina in the heart of the city. The text and images below are my impressions of the city over my four day stay.

I love the color and the textures of Sao Paulo, created by the starkly contrasting light. The sun is either bright, hot and white, or orange and heavy like butter. The bright light exposes the citys color lines and contrasts. There are people in the street with red hair, bright clothes and a patterned backpack, or red buses, red sidewalks, and blue fountains that fill my vision. The heavy light from rain or the sunset mutes the colors into a series of patterns. The rain makes an abstract symphony of the telephone lines of the city, or the late heavy sky helps shape the buildings from my window (and the tar on the street).‚   -Michael

A fountain outside a store downtown with a flier of Brazilian President-elect Dilma Vana Rousseff, stuck to the tiles.

A passer by walks across brightly colored access panels on the downtown Sao Paulo streets.

A red bus intersects a subway station that reflects the clouds in downtown Sao Paulo.

A rainy street in a suburban neighborhood.

A pattern in the tar outside the Memorial da America Latina.

The view from my hotel room at sunset.