Celebrity photographer Michael Grecco describes his recent cover shoot with
the Oscar-winning film director.
Michael Grecco brings a seasoned eye and impeccable technique to his celebrity portraiture. The L.A.-based photographer divulges his shooting secrets in an exciting new monograph from Watson Guptill, Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait (right). The book is essentially a series of master classes in how Grecco produced some of his most successful images, each accompanied by a detailed lighting diagram. So when we heard that the photographer had recently created a portrait of Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese for a story in OnDirecTV magazine (now called Access), we asked him to tell us how he did it, using his new book's winning format.
Here is a chapter of Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait prepared exclusively for American Photo visitors.
-- The Editors
When David Hill, the President of DirecTV, asked me if I would shoot Martin Scorsese for the cover of their magazine, OnDirecTV (now called Access), I was honored. I also knew it would be a tough assignment and that I was only going to be given 45 minutes. In that time I had to do a sequence of images for his ongoing column in the magazine, shoot enough still images to insert into the television commercial, and make a killer cover image. The good thing is that I knew what I wanted. I wanted the image to speak of Manhattan and the "mean streets" of New York, which so many of Scorsese's films are associated with.
To do that I wanted to shoot him on a roof that overlooked the city. The next problem was that he did not want to travel far from his office because of his busy schedule. His office in the Directors Guild building on 57th Street offered me the roof deck. I happened to have had a shoot in Manhattan two weeks before we were scheduled to shoot so I scouted that location. I liked the view but hated that the railing that blocked the view. To solve the problem I decided to put the director on a platform of apple boxes, which is standard equipment on a film (and still) set, so they made sense.