Baron Wolman, “Rocks”. Picture book

“I always enjoyed photographing people.  I quickly discovered that I could literally watch the tension dissolve as I talked with the subject about him/herself, showed some honest, not feigned, interest. Tip: always listen!” BW

Baron Wolman (b. June 25, 1937) is an American photographer best known for his work in the late 1960s for the music magazine Rolling Stone, becoming the magazine’s first editor of photography from 1967 to 1970.

How many people can say they were the first photographer at Rolling Stone? Only one. That person is Baron Wolman. Although he has always had a passion for photography, it took a long time before he realized he could make a career out of it. While working in counter-intelligence in post-World War II Berlin, started snapping pictures. He sent those pictures and a story about the experience to his hometown newspaper. After posting it on the front-page of the features section, the paper sent Baron a check for fifty dollars. He then realized he could make some money from something he just loved doing. It was rough for Baron at first. With some encouragement from his father, Baron went out there and, and with a lot of hard work, eventually got hired by the then-fledgling Rolling Stone Magazine.

“Janis was a complex soul; she had her light and her dark sides.” BW

“With Jimi … his movement supported sound in a way that was unexpected and of course wonderful for a photographer because he made – I won’t say he made a better picture than a musician – but it was hard to take a bad picture of him. You would really have to work to take a bad picture of him playing.” BW

“I am often asked, “What was it like to have lived during the sixties?”  One of the several purposes of this book is to answer that question, to provide a small window through which future generations can look back and get a glimpse of the incredible time I was privileged to experience.  And, of course, to provide those who were there a memento, pictures to show their children and beyond, pictures to help them tell their own Sixties stories”. Baron Wolman on The Rolling Stone Years

The Plaster Casters of Chicago, January 1969: I’ll never forget: They wanted to cast me. At the time, I thought, it didn’t seem like a way to be immortalized. So I said, ‘”I don’t know, let’s go get something to eat.” I tell people nowadays, “They wanted to cast me but I didn’t want to put the musicians to shame.” BW

Although his work at Rolling Stone has come to define his photographic career, Baron has been involved in numerous non-music projects. After leaving Rolling Stone in 1970, Wolman started his own fashion magazine, Rags, housed in Rolling Stone’s first San Francisco offices.Rags was a counterculture fashion magazine ahead of its time described as “the Rolling Stone of fashion”, focusing on street fashion rather than the fashion found in store windows. Creative and irreverent, the magazine’s 13 issues (June 1970 through June 1971) were an artistic success.

Baron followed Rags by learning to fly and making aerial landscapes from the window of his small Cessna. These photographs were the basis of two books, California From the Air: The Golden Coast (1981), and The Holy Land: Israel From the Air (1987), published by Squarebooks which Wolman founded in 1974, and which continues to publish an eclectic selection of illustrated books.

In 1974, Wolman spent a year with the Oakland Raiders football team, using his full-access status to photographically document the entire 1974 season. The result was Oakland Raiders: The Good Guys, published in 1975.

2011 saw the release of an auto-biographical, image-heavy book Baron Wolman: Every Picture Tells A Story, the Rolling Stone Years published by Omnibus Press. The book talks about Wolman’s career from the beginnings of Rolling Stone and tells the stories behind the photographs.

Wolman was awarded as a VIP at the 2011 Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards, smashing a camera on stage in homage to Pete Townshend.

“Baron Wolman still is an active photographer who enjoys his work. He likes changing it up and doing different things. He even became interest in nude photography. Baron actually ended up teaching a class on the subject at the collegiate level. He is passionate about his work, and that separates him from many of the other  average photographers”. Sandro Dzneladze

 “From the moment I picked up a camera I knew that this was  for me a phenomenal way of communicating. I just took to it immediately.  I’m not very good with words but I found out I was much better with pictures.  So I had enjoyed it for years and years and years.” BW

 

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