Tony never wanted to be a photographer. He wanted to be a “wise guy”, like the characters he saw every day on the streets of his rough and tumble childhood neighborhood on Chicago’s notorious West Side.
He coveted their fancy cars, shiny suits and clever nicknames, he even started calling himself Tony “Bag of Donuts” when he was twelve, but being half Polish, becoming a “made man” wasn’t meant to be. Irish maybe, but Polack? Forget about it.
After a strident schooling administered by Jesuits at St. Ignatius College
Prep, Tony yearned to break free and express his creativity. He enrolled at
the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and there he discovered the Camera
Once Tony looked through a camera, he never looked back.
He shot the streets of Chicago and the people he found there. On those streets he developed a voyeuristic shooting style and a love affair with the human face - his love, as he puts it, “of characters.”
Tony also discovered photographs of famous people sitting in fancy chairs, shot in warm cozy photography studios with a catered lunch, pay way better than photographs of the “great unwashed” huddling under freezing expressway feeder-ramps shot at 3AM.
It seems “Bag of Donuts” never totally lost his desire for fancy cars and shiny suits.
While some argue D’Orio left his artistic integrity in the gutter when he stepped from the frigid streets of Chicago and into his own warm, cozy photo studio, no one doubts what he brought with him has served him well: His street sensibilities and his lifetime love “of characters”.
Those can be seen in his work, his shiny “Best of Show” statuettes and his inclusion in all the fancy award annuals.
Tony D’Orio turned out to be a wise guy after all.
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