Baron Wolman was beginning his career as a photojournalist in San Francisco when he got a call from Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in 1967. “He said, ‘We’re starting this magazine,'” recalls Wolman. “‘We’re going to need a photographer. Do you want to be the photographer?’ I had no idea what I was doing.”
Wolman became Rolling Stone’s first chief photographer, capturing legendary artists like Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Who, and many others during his three years on the job. “When I took them, I had no sense of the historical value,” Wolman explains. “I knew they were good pictures at the moment, but I didn’t know that these pictures would still be around. I had no sense of the fact that it was a window into a very important time in our country’s social history. Things were changing. People’s minds were changing. People’s attitudes were changing.”
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His new book, My Generation: The Classic Rock Photos of Baron Wolman, compiles his work from that time with stories that he began telling on Instagram — an app that Wolman calls “the most significant visual social media vehicle in existence right now.” Although he joined late in the game, Wolman quickly gained thousands of followers, adding extensive captions to photos of rock stars that gave detailed background information. “You know Instagram, there’s not much dialogue,” he says. “There’s a bunch of likes but people don’t often comment about the picture. But they were starting to do that with mine because I gave them information — they appreciated that. So that’s how this whole thing evolved as a book.”
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