Interview: Leonard Greco

April 20 2014

Leonard Greco has lived in more places than most, and it’s reasonable to see how it’s reflected in his photography. His portraits range from musicians like Sébastien Tellier and Zach Condon (of Beirut) to cultural legends like GQ’s “Style Guy” Glenn O’Brien, while his ethereal still life scenes could be from another planet. He’s even ventured into the realm of video, thanks to a gamble he took on himself and a road trip. No matter the format, his unpredictable style comes through clear. Better than most, Greco knows how good it feels to get weird.
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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I grew up all over…Sweden, Canada and then ended up in Bethlehem, New Hampshire for high school. I consider that my home. My grandparents moved there from Brooklyn in the 50’s to raise my dad and his brother. That area and the people there have influenced me a lot. I love it and I hate it.
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During high school I played in a punk band called Bitter Youth, stole a lot, was really interested in car audio, smoking, skateboarding and lifting weights. I went to art school because my grades were too bad to even apply to most colleges. I got accepted on academic probation and was introduced to photography.
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A lot of your portraits are of musicians—how did that end up being a major part of your work?

My early work was all just pictures of my friends. I guess people saw that and just thought: “Hmmm, this guy should shoot musicians.” It was intentional and unintentional at the same time.
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Your still life work is a whole genre unto itself. What made you start shooting those?

It’s something that I’m actually very excited about right now and have great plans for. It’s just nice to not deal with people and focus on getting weird. I don’t know, it just feels good.
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Some of your portfolio includes video work with Jay Carroll of One Trip Pass. What got you started on dabbling in video?

I got a Super 8 years ago and shot Turbonegro during their Apocalypse Dudes tour. It just seemed so amazing. Then I lied to a company and told them I knew how to shoot video and figured it out on YouTube.
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I knew Jay from working at Rogues Gallery together and told him I wanted to make some videos together. We went on a great trip through Texas and had a ton of fun. It was one of the best life experiences I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t have experienced it if I had never gambled.
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What’s next for you in the second half of 2014?

New work, a book, the desert, Jess [the lady] and Cappy [the dog], and as always, trying to perfect an all-day red sauce.
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Interview by Austin Bryant. All photos by Leonard Greco.

Austin Bryant is a digital ad guy and freelance writer based in Boston, MA.