Baron Wolman, Iconic Rock Photographer, Dies at 83

Baron Wolma,. 1937–2020. Image © Tony Bonanno

By Tony Bonanno—

Baron Wolman died peacefully on November 2, 2020 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 83. I feel privileged to have been able to call him a good friend for almost two decades. Baron was Rolling Stone magazine’s first photographer and actually had a major role in getting the unique rock music magazine of the Hippie generation off the ground.

Although his iconic images are well known, and many of you who are reading this have viewed them, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about Baron.

I first met Baron at the home of jazz musician Herbie Mann and his wife Janeal Arison. He had moved to Santa Fe from the Bay area in August, 2001. We were neighbors for a while in Eldorado and we started sharing our photography interests early on. He was a former ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) member and we frequently talked about the “business” of photography and the role of ASMP in protecting photographers’ rights.

Baron was much more than a legendary rock & roll photographer. He was a skilled general aviation pilot, a publisher of a fashion magazine, Rags (which was rather short lived), and a publisher of numerous books. He was a talented writer as well as a photographer. He also loved fun cars, music (of course), travel, sports, nature, and good food.

Wolman at a rock concert in the 1960s, shooting for Rolling Stone Magazine. Image by Bill Graham.

But what he loved more than anything was people. He had a big heart, cared about other people tremendously, and was generous in every way. He devoted a lot of time and energy to helping and mentoring other photographers. He was modest and revealed little about himself when he made new acquaintances. He was definitely a product of San Francisco in the ’60’s with a strong set of personal values.. honesty, integrity, justice, equality, and love.

He was also an excellent business person. I often found his advice to be right on the mark. I printed many of his iconic rock concert photographs on Red River papers for the past several years. I learned a lot from him and I know his images well. He was a terrific story teller.. his “story behind the picture” was always an insightful and entertaining experience. He recalled every detail so that you could visualize being there.

Baron had a playful sense of humor. He loved the little pleasures in life. He called me one day to tell me about a new egg cooker he had found on Amazon. He was so happy with it. He appreciated new technology, but also was wary of the downsides. We would test-drive cars together and get excited about the latest upgrade to our engines. It was about having fun. Life is short, so do it!

One of Wolman’s favorite images on the cover of Shutterbug Magazine. Image © Baron Wolman/Iconic Images

Although Baron and I had very different backgrounds (other than being primarily self taught photographers),  we had a strong connection as to how we viewed the world. We were both divorced, loved women, loved adventure, and were old now. We enjoyed eating together at Harry’s Roadhouse at least weekly– and often with other friends and colleagues.

We helped each other when life threw us curve balls, whether health challenges, family crises, or relationship problems (more my problem than his). He was like a big brother. Over the years I observed how he touched the hearts of so many who came to know him. He was an inspiration, a mentor, a collaborator… and so much more.

Baron Wolman was a true renaissance man. He lived life to the fullest and stayed engaged with his passions and interests right up to the end.

He will be missed by many. RIP my friend.


ABOUT THE WRITER

Tony Bonanno is a Red River Pro who lives in Santa Fe, NM and is a contributor to the Blog. You may enjoy reading a previous article he wrote about  the Wild Horses of the Carmague.

READ MORE ABOUT BARON WOLMAN

Read Blog Editor Arthur H. Bleich’s -depth Shutterbug Magazine interview with Baron Wolman  in which Baron toucheds on many subjects of interest to photographers including his shooting techniques for making great musical performance images.

Many of Baron’s photographs  may be viewed at his website.

An article he wrote for the Red River Paper Blog about Jimi Hendrix is linked in Related Posts (below).

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YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED BELOW

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1 Comment

  1. So sorry to hear the news of Baron Woman’s passing. I had the opportunity to meet him in the 80s when I was just starting out as a photographer working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. He had a book, I believe it was called California from the Air. I got it at the Sausalito Flea Market. I read the Bio and it said he lived in Marin County so I called him and he invited me to go flying the next day. He was doing a shoot for a Hewlett/ Packard building in Sacramento and we flew around and he photographed the Capitol as well. I thought that was enormously generous of him. I met him again in Carmel Valley by chance. I spoke to him by email after he moved to Santa Fe. He seemed very happy. RIP Baron, and thanks for the kindness.

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