Michael Greco wanted to be a great Hollywood photographer ever since his days on assignment with People, where he shot journalistic pictures to illustrate lifestyle stories.
“I immediately started to request more opportunities to take portraits,” he says. “I’ve been attached to the portrait ever since I was a little kid, but when I started to shoot serious actors, there was a whole new added depth of expression that our collaboration would provoke that was exciting. Actors certainly raise the bar of every shot.”
From Academy Award winners like Martin Landau reverting into their favorite roles to Steve Martin peering out mischievously from behind the leaves of a flowering green bush, Greco manages to capture the essence of the person behind the actor as well as the personality traits for which each has become cinematically known.
Today, Greco manages to produce the kind of slick, colorful images of our favorite celebrities that have enough teeth to become memorable but enough mainstream appeal to whet palates across a broad audience.
“There are so many publicists today driving the image machine of their clients,” explains Michael. “That’s why I will sit in hair and make-up and chat with talent in order to get to know them—in and out, what they’re about and what they are personally into.”
One of his most cherished images is the one he took of comedian Chris Farley just before the actor’s death in 1997. “The day I shot Chris produced so many good images and everything seemed so magical,” he explains. “I feel like I helped preserve a piece of history with that photo. He was an amazingly talented performer; he really understood still images, which takes physical humor. I am very proud and happy to have known him.
A consummate storyteller, Greco frequently expands beyond the solo-shot studio project. His latest book, Naked Ambition, is a lush and stylized look at the candy-apple parade of the porn industry’s characters and props.
“I felt like I was a player in a Fellini movie,” says Greco about his first experience attending an adult video awards and expo. “I knew it was going to be my next project; I had no idea it would do so well and we would have a feature documentary come of it.”
Greco’s work can be seen at Fahey Klein Gallery in Los Angeles. His porn industry project can be seen at Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and Daniel Azoulay Gallery in Miami. His work is a recent addition to the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.