There is something galvanic about a person that sets out into the world to let experience transform natural talent into mastery. This transformation began at an early age for self-taught photographer Lorne Resnick as he attended most major rock concerts that swept through his hometown of Toronto, Canada. Lorne began to shoot for newspapers and magazines capturing the quintessential shots of this generations’ musical heroes, in the throws of rock ecstasy.
His passion became an obsession, and the obsession became his first anthology, which he designed, produced and published in 1987. Live in Concert: 10 Years of Rock and Roll has become a sought-after lexicon of the performances of now rock legends from Aerosmith to ZZ Top. Executed with humor and a sense of revelry, it remains important as one of the most comprehensive photo explorations of that influential decade when Arena Rock reached critical mass. As his first work was being published, Lorne discovered the process of creation was inextricably linked to his understanding and enjoyment of the world at large: more simply put, an artist was born.
Now a successful photographer and consummate thrill-seeker, it was time for concert halls to give way to Savannahs: parking lots to deserts, and for the North American lifestyle to give way to the nomadic. Not surprisingly, Africa beckoned and would come to hold a special power over Lorne. The yearlong trip he took there was so large in scope and depth that it served to solidify his wanderlust while fostering the perspicacity needed to create an enduring visual language.
In 1995 Lorne’s wanderlust brought him to Cuba. It became the place where his heart and soul took root and expanded to a breadth that was new to him - the infectious music - the unabashed sensuality – the human connection. In the mist of the cacophonous Havana street life, Lorne would disappear behind the lens, emerging again moments later with iconic renderings of human relations. Incapable of resisting Cuba’s wiles, Lorne returned dozens of times, amassing more than 400,000 images. With that level of dedication and overwhelming affinity for the subject matter, history was bound to repeat itself. A new book has been published, a labor of love – truly a life’s work, as timely as it is expansive, entitled Cuba – This moment, Exactly so. Already the winner of numerous books awards, you can see the results here.
After twenty years of photographic explorations in developing nations that include Vietnam, China, Papua New Guinea and twenty-two African countries, one could easily expect Lorne Resnick to have created a chronicle of pathos, images of lack, sickness and hunger. But Lorne is not a photographer of lack. When he arrives in a place like Cuba, he sees abundance; of spirit, of generosity, of talent, character and wit, and it is this abundance that is revealed in his work, frame after frame – moment after moment.
Lorne is unapologetically optimistic about the human condition, believing artists can and should be architects of awareness and responsibility in an over-stimulated, self-absorbed society. To this end, Lorne remains cognizant of the political/economic landscape in which he works, and yet his photographic subjects are never depicted as victims of insurmountable forces. They operate as autonomous beings, actively engaged in the artistic process with Lorne.
His street portraits do not read as anonymous faces encountered haphazardly by a peripatetic stranger. There is instead a joyous exchange. Lorne seeks out his subjects with an inward resolve, intent on discovering what is captivating about their personality so that the images resonate intuitively with the viewer. His engaging shooting style creates a strong sense of camaraderie, which is evidenced by the large number of surrogate families throughout the world who have taken him in, as one of their own.
While it remains true that in the history of photography no phrase has been more ubiquitous than Bresson’s “decisive moment”, it is an unavoidable idea integral to the medium. How much more so for the street photographer, for whom it is everything? Those who master it cannot teach others how to find it; they can merely show it to the rest of us. Lorne Resnick shows us these moments in abundance, but there is always a catch. Judging from his awards alone, Lorne’s work could easily be categorized as “travel photography”, a genre that is inclusive of highly divergent subjects and styles, and yet, in this case, still seems inadequate. As an image-maker, he is a shape-shifter of sorts. A ready example is an award-winning photograph of waves crashing against the Malecon in Havana, in which a single cherry-red vintage Chevrolet punctuates a muted celadon palette as it winds along a miraculously vacant shoreline. Innocuously beautiful on first read, that car forces the image into the tangle of the U.S. embargo and the daunting reality that the gorgeous 56’ Chevy is being maintained and driven out of pure necessity, not nostalgia.
On another continent, his wildlife photography anthropomorphizes and therefore increases the chances for the sustainability of the species. As if to remind us of why we must remain so awed by these creatures - a crucial aspect of his conservationist underpinnings - Lorne employs his own brand of hyperrealism. For his black and white work, infrared film allows him to present the animals as specters, powerful yet tenuously placed in their diminishing habitat. In his color work he creates an effect that seems to glow from within the page, something he was able to perfect with his switch to digital photography. The landscape and its inhabitants shine within a kind of cautionary tale, desperate to remain enchanted.
Lorne relies on his desire to facilitate an understanding of the interconnectivity of human experience as the impetus for much of his work. Among the many awards, fine art gallery shows and acknowledgments of his work, Lorne’s stylistic certitude and formidable ability as a chronicler has earned him the prestigious Travel Photographer of the Year award. With an extensive list of commercial clients and an ambitious accumulation of fine art projects currently underway, Lorne manages to remain equally committed to his growing family. Although he has chosen Los Angeles as his base, and has managed to distinguish himself in its vastly talented artistic community, Lorne Resnick’s global explorations are far from over. He now regularly shares his passion for creating emotional images by leading popular travel photography workshops around the world.