Interview with Photographer Michael Grecco on his New Lighting Ebook
We’re starting to wonder when hyper-prolific advertising and editorial portrait photographer Michael Grecco sleeps. When not shooting celebrities for magazines, he’s working on personal projects, teaching or lecturing at photo events around the country and recently, returning to his filmmaking roots.
We had a chance to interview Michael recently about his career, his advice for aspiring photographers, and his new ebook, Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography, an updated electronic version of his hit 2006 hit book of the same name, now available for the iPad, Kindle and Nook.
Adorama Rental Co.: Tell me briefly about your career path. How did you develop your distinctive look, and how did you arrive at this point in your career?
Michael Grecco: I started out as a photojournalist while attending Boston University’s film school. I worked for the Associated Press and Boston Herald. It was an exciting life–capturing news—and I learned to work quickly and understand the shots I needed. But, I wanted to construct and create an image out of fashion, sets and lighting so I moved to Los Angeles and started doing magazine portraits.
ARC: Why did you decide to write “Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait: The Art of Celebrity and Editorial Photography” and who did you write it for?
MG: It started from a very popular talk I had been giving at the Photo Plus Expo. Lauren Wendle, who runs the Expo, believed in me and gave me my first shot at public speaking. That talk has become one of the most popular they have had, and out of the talk came the idea for the book. It is me explaining what I do, how I think, and all the things that have gone wrong, and right, on my shoots.
ARC: What led to the decision to release it as an eBook?
MG: I released the eBook for two reasons: First, I thought it would be amazing to give people the ability to take Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait with them to a shoot, to put it in their back pocket while working. Second, I watched as dozens of Google Alerts came in each day as people uploaded the book to free share sites and torrent down load sites. I thought, a) it must be popular, and b) I was offended that someone else would profit from this and not me. It was theft. With the eBook I could control the quality and add elements not contained in the original book.
ARC: You have such a distinctive look in your work, are you teaching people how to shoot with your look, or how to make their own decisions that will lead to a unique style?
MG: I do teach the specific techniques I use, for sure. But, whenever I do a workshop or speak to photographers, I try to encourage and teach people to “see.” There are easy steps to developing your own look and style. The idea is: if you know the tools and know what you like, you can get there.
ARC: What do you think readers will walk away with after reading this book?
MG: I hope they read the stories and have a light go-off in their head (pun intended). I think the book shows how you can think outside the box. I have made my mistakes and failures into success stories. It’s important to understand that it’s all a process.
ARC: Can you divulge some of the key tips you share in the book?
MG: If I did I would have to kill you (not really). I break down the components of lighting into easy pieces, making them more digestible to think about and use. You’ll have to buy the book to learn the specifics.
ARC: What advice do you generally give emerging photographers you meet?
MG: You have to really want a career in photography, because it is tough out there. Then, be patient and work hard. If you do that, you will succeed.
ARC: What other projects do you have coming up, both as a photographer and as a teacher?
MG: I am about to release a portfolio of never before seen “Urban Landscapes.” Between that, my magazine and ad shoots and the release of this eBook, we are pretty busy. If the eBook is successful I want to write Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait II.