Michael Grecco | Case studies
Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated   |   WILL SMITH

Where there’s a Will…

This is one of my favorite shoots. Not just because it turned out so well, but also because of how it all went down. I happened to be in NYC meeting with Sports Illustrated Director of Photography, Brad Smith. Brad was trying to arrange a cover shoot with Will Smith to promote his new movie, Concussion. He was having a hard time agreeing on a celebrity photographer with the talent’s PR rep. And since I’d worked with Will in the past, I asked Brad to put my name forward.

  • Will Smith Sports Illustrated Cover.jpg

I was awarded the job and it quickly evolved into a large production shoot. The magazine needed something very specific. And Will’s a star, which means he’s busy. Which means we didn’t have a lot of time. Which means we all had to be at the top of our game, especially since I always like to deliver a second look.

Will Smith Sports Illustrated.jpg
Will Smith 2 Sports Illustrated.jpg

The magazine wanted to composite x-rays behind him. So in order to match the lighting, we wrapped in back light as if a light box were glowing behind him. That was the gray image. But I also wanted to create something with the emotional gravitas worthy of Will’s movie character, forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu – who saved countless lives with his research. To do this, we built a set with a white background, not fully lit with an additional light pointing toward the camera for flare. God-like? Maybe. But Will busted out into a dance when he saw it. So I guess it worked.

  • Will Smith Behind The Scenes.jpg

In the end, we had one of my favorite shots. And this nice email from Brad at SI: “Great cover…very happy with it, thanks for the awesome job. So great working with you.”