Reggio was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to an old and distinguished Louisiana family descended from Francesco M. de Reggio, an Italian nobleman who first settled in France and then in French Louisiana around 1750. Reggio has been involved in many progressive political causes in the United States, including work for the American Civil Liberties Union, co-organizing a multi-media public interest campaign on the invasion of privacy and the use of technology to control behavior. Reggio resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is currently focusing on a narrative-based film exploring the negative impacts of consumerism and fundamentalism on the world.
Reggio is most known for his Qatsi trilogy, which includes the films Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi, and Naqoyqatsi. All of the film titles are taken from the Hopi language; Koyaanisqatsi meaning "life out of balance," Powaqqatsi meaning "life in transformation," and Naqoyqatsi meaning "life as war."