Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sign of the Cross - Part One

Figure on a Cross
© Larry Torno, 2009

As soon as I started photographing crosses, I was confronted with cynicism. Some people were afraid to consider my images as art because they thought I had a hidden agenda. Several galleries rejected them for consideration because they said they were too controversial. Other people assumed I was born again because I chose this subject.

The plain truth is, I like the simple shape of the cross and the way it communicates a multitude of messages. It's as simple as that. You can read whatever you want into my photos, but I'm merely trying to make art. As a photographer friend of mine said, "It's not what you shoot, it's how you see it."

This is how I see it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Titles at an Exhibition

The Flame
Image courtesy of Larry Torno and Bruno David Gallery

Creating titles for the Barbie exhibition was an exercise in creative thinking. Bruno David, the gallery owner and curator of the show, asked me to think about what was going through my mind as I shot each doll and consider that for the titles.

With that in mind, here are the titles and what I was thinking as I looked through the viewfinder.

An American in Rome
– This Barbie looked like a combination of Audrey Hepburn, in the black and white film Roman Holiday, and an American visitor acclimating to European fashion.

Anne's Favorite
– My neighbor, Anne, likes the early Barbies, but considers the full eyelash models to be her favorite.

When is a Barbie not a Barbie
– The first doll to be photographed and the impetus for the concept behind the exhibition.

Big Bangs Theory
– A play on words and a tribute to the outrageous bangs on this Barbie.

Black, White and Blonde – Refers to the black dress, white lipstick and blonde hair.

Bric-A-Brac and Pearls on a Summer's Evening
– That's how I saw this doll; wearing an inexpensive summer outfit but trying to dress it up with a string of pearls.

Burnt Umber – It's a paint color I used in college and the most descriptive term I could find to describe the tone of the doll and lighting.

The Cat's Meow – A combination of the cat eye glasses and a popular expression.

Celebrity Look-A-Like
– This doll looks like someone who might be famous whose name you can't think of.

Close Encounter – I kept zooming in on this doll to see how close I could come and still get the shot I wanted.

The First Time You See Her – You know when you see someone all the time and take them for granted . . . but then one day, you see them like you've never seen them before.

The Flame – A shortening of the term "flaming redhead" and a suggestion of her demeanor when it comes to relationships.

Frankie, Annette and Moondoggie – I know I'm mixing my beach film characters, but to me, she was all of them rolled up into one.

Jerry's Point of View
– My friend, Jerry, is much taller than me, and I guessed that this must be his perspective with most people.

Paparazzi – Who else could she be hiding from?

Profile – Obvious.

Remember the '80s – I think I saw this woman in the mid-1980s in California.

Up, Close and Personal – Another case of trying to get up close without invading personal space.

When I Met Peg
– Peg is my wife and doesn't look anything like this, however, here's the story. I met her on a blind date when she was playing in the back-up orchestra for Tony Bennett. I brought binoculars to the concert to "check her out" but she was hidden behind the music stand and all I could see was her eyes. Just like this Barbie, that was all I needed to see.

The Nudes – They're named for the numbered exposure that I chose as the final image. They were not shot at the same time nor are they the same doll.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Camera Interview

Frankie, Annette and Moondoggie
Photo courtesy of Larry Torno and Bruno David Gallery

When Naomi Silver, President and Founder of Culture Surfer LLC, walked into the Barbie show, When is a Doll not a Doll?, she doubled over in laughter and asked "Is this everyone's reaction?" And from then on, I knew the interview was going to be a good one. I don't think I've ever seen anyone so enthusiastic about my work. It was great fun meeting Naomi and getting the chance to be interviewed about the show. You can see the video at