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Michael Grecco confesses to a Death Valley shoot-out and much more

13/02/2012 World-renowned Los Angeles-based celebrity photographer and director Michael Grecco hasn’t just seen the light. He’s tamed it, massaged it, shaped it and exploited it. Now he’s written a brand new eBook about it. (And anyone reading this Hasselblad News article can access an extra chapter of the book – Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait – completely free of charge.)

Appropriately Hasselblad News caught up with the iconic shooter as he was leaving a yoga class in L.A.  Appropriate because many might argue that Grecco has played a key role in turning the world of high-end celebrity portraiture on its head over the past two decades.

Grecco workshops, books, films and shoots have never been in greater demand. This former photo-journalist works with the likes of Scorsese and Spielberg and his commercial client list is just a shopping list of some of the world’s biggest brands including; Walt Disney, Apple, Sony, Forbes Magazine, Esquire and Time.

Recently he travelled to the desert in Death Valley, California armed with an H4D-40 and a brief to shoot an advertising campaign boasting beautiful models and beautiful clothes - in some of America’s lowest, driest and hottest conditions.


He explained: “Death Valley would be a very hard set to build so instead we spent the day there, from sunrise until dusk. I wanted to test the camera and its exclusive True Focus function in a difficult environment, to see for myself how easy it was to use. I have to always have an idea for the shot and very dramatic lighting too. We went to the desert but we took a Strobe with us.”

“The results simply underpinned my long-held view that Hasselblad cameras are simply the very best on the planet. The H4D-40 has superb ergonomics – this is an exceptional piece of equipment to hold and run with.  I never want to compose my subject right in the centre of the frame so True Focus enabled me to initially focus, move the camera around and still hold that perfect focus. It’s a great feature.”


He added: “People say to me: ‘Why not use a Canon 5D or similar?’  But for me there is just no comparison between a Canon lens and a Hasselblad lens. There is a huge amount of difference in contrast and sharpness.”

Grecco has recently photographed former swimsuit model turned multi-millionaire entrepreneur, Kathy Ireland for the cover of Forbes magazine (This time with his H4D-50). “Kathy was before Cindy Crawford’s time – but just as famous”, he explained. “She’s 48 now so I was constantly working on the best way to light her face to make sure she looked stunning – there is always a part of you that wants to flatter the subject a little.”


Watch the behind the scenes video of Grecco shooting Forbes magazine cover here.

"We pre-lit a showroom which we made into a studio. I took two assistants and some production help. We lit a grey backdrop and a blue backdrop and we completed the shoot in about two hours.”

How to spend $6,000 in four days:

Grecco is running a unique Hasselblad-sponsored four day ‘Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait’ workshop in Hawaii (March 28 –April 2) for just TWELVE delegates. It’s four full days of guided photo shoots and hands-on instruction including meals, top models and lodging at the Hilo Hawaiian hotel.

Said Grecco: “This is a ‘must-do’ for photographers who have the time and resources for a shoot like this. I will be addressing all their needs. I can get as complex as they want or talk in the simplest terms. It will be all about ‘seeing’. I want them all to start seeing how to make a great image. I want to show them how to create the life that needs to be added to a picture to make it breathe.”


You can register for this workshop at http://michaelgrecco.com/workshops/

And if you can’t afford the workshop in Hawaii you can still get a free ‘extra’ chapter of Grecco’s eBook: Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait (a completely updated eBook version of his best selling hardback from 2006).

He said: “I am flattered to be able to say that this book has been described as The Lighting Bible – and we have created a special email address for Hasselblad readers (lighting@MichaelGrecco.com). Anyone reading this article can email us and we will send them a special ‘extra’ chapter that will not be found in the eBook.”

More information on this new eBook at http://michaelgrecco.com/store/