Larry Marano can often be found in the front row of every major South Florida concert with his Nikon in hand capturing timeless photographs of everyone from Kesha to Kiss. The Parkland resident began shooting concerts in 1975 purely for fun while living in New York City and by 1977, he was doing it professionally. Now the iconic lensman will appear at Blue Gallery in Fort Lauderdale Dec. 14-15 to launch his first ever exhibit, “The Art of Rock ’N’ Roll.” Marano’s shots of Queen, U2, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne and many other rock legends will be on display and available for purchase.
“The first show I shot was Kiss at Madison Square Garden in 1977,” Marano recalled. “Kiss is still the best photo op to this day. They pose for you, they have interesting outfits and makeup and they’re just a great group of guys.”
Marano broke into the business because he and his friends simply loved going to rock concerts. “Me and my friends would work for ticket scalpers because they wanted to get into the show and I wanted to get close enough to get great pictures,” Marano said.
In the early ‘80s, Marano recalled a historic moment when he captured Guns N' Roses on film right before they became famous. “I saw them at this club called Sundance in Long Island,” Marano said. “It was an excellent time for music. I grew up in the hair band era and rock stars back then were really interesting to photograph. One of the shots I took of Axl Rose that night will be in my exhibit.”
Marano can technically thank Queensrÿche though for catapulting his career. “I was a big fan of Queensrÿche and I liked getting albums and photos signed. I was eating at Hard Rock Cafe one night in New York City and Queensrÿche was sitting with the head of Hit Parader magazine,” Marano said. “I handed them photos to sign that I had taken and the band and Hit Parader really liked them so that’s really the moment I started doing this for a living.”
One of the most attractive aspects of shooting rock bands in the ‘70s for Marano was the rawness of rock ’n’ roll he was able to capture at that time. “The bands looked so cool back then and there wasn’t a three song limit on what you were allowed to shoot,” Marano said. “Rock ’n’ roll is sweat and hard work. It’s not perfect. There were no digital cameras and you had to shoot with film. And with film, you either got the shot or you didn’t. There was no easy correction with it.”
The images in The Art of Rock ’N’ Roll were shot exclusively on film or Kodachrome slides and will be displayed on canvas, paper and aluminum. Marano didn’t make the transition to digital Nikon cameras until late 2001. For the past eight years, he has been shooting concerts, red carpet events, fashion shows and celebrities for Getty Images. “There’s very few of us today still shooting that started with film,” Marano said. “IPhones and digital cameras have really hurt the industry in a way, but shooting digital has also helped all of us save a ton of money on film. I used to shoot three rolls of film at a concert and now I walk out of a show with 2,000 pictures.”
Now with all the wacky demands public relations teams have about controlling celebrity images and branding, it’s hard to get those images of sweaty, red-faced rockers that depicted the rebellion the musical genre once stood for. “At any given show, there’s a million wardrobe changes, similar sets and some celebrity management companies want to claim the copyrights to your images or only allow you to shoot 60 seconds of the concert,” Marano said. “But once in a while, you find yourself at a venue and Joe Perry is shredding on guitar and Steven Tyler jumps on top of a white piano and you just leave the show with your mouth open that you’re able to still be a part of these incredible rock moments. I also never mind shooting the Victoria’s Secret runway shows. That happens to be a rock concert with the hottest women in the world.”
Marano will be appearing at Blue Gallery with his exhibit, which is sponsored by Getty Images and Calumet Photographic, 6-9 p.m. Saturday Dec. 14 with wine reception and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday Dec. 15 at 713 E. Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, Bluefineart.com. RSVP for the event by calling 954-764-6044 or NZBluegallery@aol.com.
Contact Joanie Cox-Henry at email@example.com or follow her tweets @joaniecox.