Larry Marano wants to portray you in the best light and get on your good side… however he isn’t vying for friendship. As a celebrity photographer for over forty years, he has captured some of the world’s most famous faces and become an expert at doing so.
The right photo can make time travel seemingly possible, transporting the viewer to anywhere in the world at any given moment. Immortalizing a split second properly can conjure the power to inspire and change the course of someone’s life who hasn’t even been born yet. Larry Marano wasn’t thinking about any of this when he began photographing his favorite bands in Queens, New York over four decades ago.
“When I was a kid I went to see Kiss at the Garden in ‘77. My love of rock music was one thing, but seeing these guys perform – they were the ultimate rockstars. I didn’t shoot that particular show, but after that night all I could think about was that I had to capture this world on film. Before photography became my occupation, I would sneak a camera into concerts by tucking the equipment into the large inner pockets of my jean jacket. When Van Halen tickets went on sale, my friends and I would be there waiting the day before. We’d get good seats and just shoot the entire performance, because back then a lot of the shows didn’t have any problems with you doing that. I would have the negatives developed and keep the photos just for myself… it wasn’t until ‘85 when I got into the magazines. One night at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City, I ran into the guys from Queensrÿche, and showed them pictures I took from a previous gig of theirs at L’Amour East. It just so happened the photo editor from Hit Parader was there, and they in turn presented the photos to her. She said to give her a call and that was the start of transforming from a fan to professional.”
In fact, it was a photo from one of these shows in 1982 depict-ing Eddie Van Halen playing his famed “Frankenstein” guitar, that became the center of a legal case as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (The Met) used Marano’s image without consent or credit. This image was displayed by the museum for the 2019 exhibition, “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” Marano sued for copyright infringement but was ruled against when a U.S. District Judge decided that because the museum enjoyed the photograph for educational purposes, it did not violate copyright law.
“The problem with this outcome is that it doesn’t only affect me, but all photographers from here on out. It shows that a nonprofit organization can take your image, whatever it may be… they can use it and not have to pay royalties or credit you. Something like this sets a scary precedent for any artist in general. That specific picture has ended up on t-shirts, posters, etc… and I can’t do anything about it.”
Over the years, the advent of technology has taken the guessing game out of the equation, enabling individuals the capacity to check their photos as soon as the shutter clicks. Photo editing programs have also allowed for the altering of an image in every way imaginable.
“I think it’s less difficult these days with Photoshop, unlike when shooting film… you have to pretty much be on your exposure. I do like the ease of it now, but there is something about having tangible rolls of film and anticipating getting the pictures back. My photos are still for the most part, what comes out of the camera. I do very minimal if any at all tweaking of what I shoot. Back when I first started, I used a lot of black and white film because I couldn’t afford color… it was actually a plus in a way because the black and white has a mystique that’s beyond question. When I captured Guns N’ Roses in 1988 at The Limelight, that medium added a certain vintage look that can’t be recreated.”
Most nights these days you can find Larry in the enviable standing room only area between the first row and stage, often denoted by a barricade between the cameraman and concert-goer.
“Presently you must have a media pass to shoot, and 90 percent of the time you only get the first three songs. I understand wanting to control your image and dutifully respect the performer’s concerns. But live music is sweaty… that’s all part of the show, and as a photographer you want to capture artists in their element. If this had been a rule in the eight-ies, we wouldn’t have been able to obtain many of the iconic im-ages now cherished by millions of people globally. During those years, it was even normal to hang backstage after hours. The rock photographer and the rock band combined into this one chaotic lifestyle which just worked… it was really a cool time.”
Although his forte is with musicians, Larry isn’t limited strictly to this genre. “I am currently freelance, but have been working as the house photographer at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida for the past three years. My photos have been used in Spin, Rolling Stone, Billboard… I’ve been in pretty much every big publication at one point or another. The New York Post also uses me regularly to shoot sports and news-related images occurring in South Florida.”
When asked if there was an artist on his wish list or any aspect of his career which could have been executed differently, the answer was simple.
“I would love to photograph Bob Dylan… unfortunately he doesn’t even let you bring a phone into his sets nowadays. Looking back, my only regret is that I should have utilized more film. If I had known how this line of work was going to transpire and could have foreseen the ability to scan negatives… I would have shot more iconic people in their heyday. All in all, this industry is perfect for me. I set my own hours, show up for work wearing a Ramones t-shirt, and partake in history on a daily basis. What’s more rock and roll than that?”
*** Visit Marano’s instagram page to see some of his phenomenal work – larrymaranophoto or contact him at email@example.com for any inquiries.