Baron Wolman, the photographer whose music images captured the immediacy of rock culture and told a story in each shot, died Monday at the age of 83 following a battle with ALS. Born in Columbus in 1937, Wolman became interested in photography while serving in the Army as a counter-intelligence officer in Berlin.
His first photo essay for publication was a story about life behind the then-new Berlin Wall. He moved to California to pursue a career as a photojournalist, becoming Rolling Stone's first staff photographer in 1967.
In an interview last year with Matthias Hombauer, Wolman explained that he became a photographer because it allowed him to fulfill his curiosity.
"If I were curious about music, I took pictures of music," Wolman told How To Become A Rockstar Photographer podcast host Matthias Hombauer in 2019. "If I were curious about football, I'd take an assignment and do a story about football and I'd learn about the subject that I was curious about. If you think about it, life presents you with all kinds of topics to be curious about, whether it's the rich and the poor or the environment. Something is always happening that is photogenic in a way that you want to communicate first to yourself and then to your audience. Your interpretation of what's happening. My takeaway is that I have provided a visual window into a period of time that was very important in the development of our society and the society of the free world."
A recent exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland celebrates Wolman's work.
"I was lucky enough to call Baron a friend," Rock Hall President and CEO Greg Harris said. "Just a warm, wonderful person. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. We have a Baron Wolman exhibit at the museum right now that opened a few weeks ago. It celebrates his career. He's an Ohio treasure that travelled the world capturing great moments and through it all was just a wonderful, warm individual that had so many friends. It's a loss. But I do know that as he was leaving this world, what he expressed most was gratitude for the experiences he had in his life and the friendships that he shared."
Wolman also started his own fashion magazine and became a pilot as a way to learn aerial photography. Here's a link to the Rock Hall's virtual exhibit featuring Wolman's work.