Interviews The Look of Perfume Part II: Interview With Photographer Roberto Greco

The Look of Perfume Part II: Interview With Photographer Roberto Greco

12/05/16 12:06:27 (12 comments)

by: Miguel Matos

 

Roberto Greco Self-Portrait

Roberto Greco, self-portrait.

Perfume as a culture has not only a smell but also a shape and image, a language or several. Perfume is a dream and the overall result of the imagination it triggers. After having discussed how a perfume gets its visual shape in a bottle with bottle designer Lutz Hermann, I will now talk with photographer Roberto Greco about the images he creates inspired by perfume.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle photo

Chanel, personal research

Roberto Greco is an Italian/Swiss photographer whose creative work is well-known to niche fragrance lovers, even if they don't know his name. He is responsible for creating imagery for many brands such as Liquides Imaginaires, Room 1015, Evody, Le Galion, Aether, Bogue, Jovoy and others. He is a master of still life photos and he drinks from the heritage of the big masters. I recognize some influences of Irving Penn in terms of image composition, but his mood is more of a surrealist style like the one of Paul Outerbridge with a somewhat gothic touch.

Les Liquides Imaginaires Photo

Les Liquides Imaginaires Photo

Les Liquides Imaginaires

The works of Roberto Greco are now part of important Swiss art collections like the Swiss Post Collection, L'Alimentarium and Commision of Art of Winterthur. He has won awards like the IPA award (2012 and 2014, Los Angeles, honorable mention), the Arte Laguna Prize (2013, Venice) and the HZC - Helena Zanelli Creation 2009 (Switzerland). His work was exhibited in Switzerland, France, Austria, USA, and Canada. 

Bogue

Bogue

Roberto Greco translates perfume into something we can see and uses its evocative power to create innuendos of a story that is never fully told. He plays with our dreams and lets us see a scent even if we don't smell it. We met briefly during Pitti Fragranze and this is our chat:

Evody

Evody

Miguel: I know that you don't consider yourself as a photographer that specializes in perfume images, but the truth is that you are quite unique and one of very few artists that really is dedicated to perfume.

Roberto: I think I am specialized in still life. Then again, I like perfume, so maybe I can understand it more than someone else. How to express the feeling, the atmosphere of scent. Many people tell me that my visual work has a smell.

Jovoy

Jovoy

Miguel: There is a dream quality in your images. Do you think that's the reason why your pictures are evocative of smells?

Roberto: You have to understand perfume and the language of it, the codes. And my work is by itself full of imagery and textures. It's not really graphic, it's more narrative. That's why it matches very well to perfume because there is a common language.

Room 1015

Room 1015

Room 1015

Room 1015

Miguel: Your images don't show a story but they seem to evoke something that happened or is about to happen.

Roberto: That's why it matches with perfume.

Miguel: Is it cinematographic?

Roberto: Yes.

Harrods comission - Alexander Mc Queen

Alexander McQueen: Editorial for Harrod's magazine, November 2016

Miguel: Do you get specific commissions from brands or are you free to create?

Roberto: It depends on the client. Sometimes they know very well what I do and they ask me to interpret their own collection with my own style, but I think and I hope to be always unique. Sometimes they come with something very specific and it may not match my vision. Because you as a client have to try to understand that every artist wants to have his signature. Some clients think that I am just a photographer and I can do anything. When I have this kind of clients I ask them something like this: "if you do oriental perfumes, how about making the perfumes smell like cologne." What do they think about that? Can they do it? It's the same with photography. 'Im more about the artistic way of seeing than just the commercial image. My artistic way is going into the commercial, but that was not the point in the beginning.

Mona di Orio

Mona di Orio: editorial for Scentury magazine, November 2016

NicolaI

Nicolai: editorial for Scentury magazine, november 2016

Miguel: Are you not happy with the direction your photography is moving?

Roberto: No, I am really happy with it. I think I can be really thankful to have found this way of expressing my own style and adapt it to commercial work. Because a lot of photographers have two different lines of work. The artistic and the commercial one that can be very different and they even sign it with a nickname. I can assume everything.

Le Galion

Le Galion

Aether

Aether

Miguel: When you are making perfume pictures, you are mainly working for niche brands. Do you see yourself doing it for more commercial, mainstream brands?

Roberto: It's not as free, it's a market with different codes. The niche brands don't think the same way that the mainstream ones do. When I work with niche brands, I work with the owner of the brand and sometimes a creative director. If I work with Chanel, Guerlain or Yves Saint Laurent, I will have to work with 20 people.

Frapin

Frapin

Miguel: Would you like to?

Roberto: If I can find myself in the middle of that, yes. Of course. Actually I hope that I will find someone in that kind of perfumery that can understand my work.

Histoires de Parfums

Comme des Garçons, personal research

Miguel: You have a whole career in photography and perfume is just a part of it. Do you see it as a separate part of your work or is there a line of coherence that goes through all of your work?

Roberto: I have the same vision, the same signature in all of my work. It's different in the way that in my own artistic projects I take 2 or 3 years to make a series of ten pictures because I always add something more. It's deeper and more conceptual. In commercial work it's different because I have to defend a scent.

By Killian

By Kilian

Roberto Greco lives and works between Paris and Geneva. You can take a look at more of his work on his Facebook page or his Official Website.
 

Miguel Matos is a Portuguese journalist obsessed with perfume. Miguel likes to see himself as a fragrance curator, investigating perfume as contemporary art. He directs his own cultural magazine, Umbigo, and writes texts for museums and galleries. He is a vintage perfume collector and organizes regular talks called Vintage Perfume Sniffing and Olfatto L'Amore. Honorable member of the International Perfume Bottle Association. He did workshops for brands such as Versace, Grès, Roger & Gallet and Florescent. He also writes on beauty and grooming for Beautyalmanac.com. He is a Fragrantica writer, translator and editor of Fragrantica.com.br.



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FishTank
FishTank

Thank you for the wonderful, inspired pictures.

Dec
07
2016
arrowdk
arrowdk

Thank you so much for posting this!!!
I have just spent pretty much 4 straight days working on a project that gave me no joy whatsoever, not even when I finally finished it.
I am exhausted and did not expect much from today... and then I saw these pictures and I felt a physical pleasure, like when I hear a favorite concerto played really well (for example, Rachmaninov's 3rd piano concerto).
It really is amazing what joy images can give and it has been a long time since something has grabbed my attention like this. Have you ever heard Benjamin Clementine up close? I first saw him 2 years ago, and experienced the same thing: I did not want to miss a single sound or move or gesture.
That is how I felt when I saw these pictures. I do not want to miss a single detail, color, nuance...

Dec
07
2016
Seattle Dweller
Seattle Dweller

Incredible talent and skills.

Dec
06
2016
StellaDiverFlynn
StellaDiverFlynn

Thank you for this interview! He has such a unique, mystique and strong signature. I agree that an art book would be amazing!

Dec
06
2016
bicana
bicana

Marvelous

Dec
06
2016
Aafridi
Aafridi

Thanks for the interview. Marvelous!

Dec
06
2016
Filomena1941
Filomena1941

Gorgeous!

Dec
05
2016
bibibling
bibibling

I'd definitely buy a book filled with his perfume photos!

Dec
05
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

Wow!!! Mesmerizing images, dreamy indeed, what a talent. I understand what he said about niche and mainstream. I like his vision and how artistically he presents the scents
....

Dec
05
2016
rp6969
rp6969

Roberto is a genius!

Dec
05
2016
Alex1984
Alex1984

Stunning and beautiful!
The perfume is the star, not the model du jour!

Dec
05
2016
swoon
swoon

Absolutely stunning!

Dec
05
2016

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