Rock and roll has had a triumphant and tumultuous history. Through it all there have been an extensive amount of photos which captured some of the most important moments in music history. Music photographers, such as Baron Wolman, and Bob Gruen, and have immortalized rock legends on film. Their images communicate visually the social and cultural transformation of rock through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Now, these rock and roll images are sought after by collectors, and curators, and held as the visual pinnacle of the rock and roll age.

Rolling Stone magazine was the first major publication for rock and roll images. Jann Wenner and Baron Wolman, the first photographer for the magazine, launched the magazine in 1967, reporting mostly on the hippie counterculture of the time. Wolman revolutionized the way rock was photographed. His style was gritty, on the fly, minimalistic and real. His shots of bands like the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and the Who have become some of the most recognizable rock and roll images of all time. Recently, he was presented with a VIP Award at the Classic Rock Roll of Honor Awards for his contribution to rock and roll, where he smashed a guitar in honour of Pete Townsend.

Bob Gruen, a 40-year veteran photographer of the music scene, has photographed countless rock stars, such as Eric Clapton, Led Zepplin, and Bob Dylan. He was John Lennon’s personal photographer during Lennon’s time in New York City. His photo of John Lennon in a New York T-shirt has become one of the most famous rock and roll images of all time. In 2007, Gruen opened his exhibition, Rockers, in Sau Paulo, Brazil which featured over 270 rock and roll images, arranged in nine different areas, set to five background soundtracks. He has also published five books of his photography.

Several museums have held exhibitions in recent years, focusing the spotlight on the photographers of these famous rock and roll images. The Brooklyn Museum’s exhibition Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, which debuted near the end of 2009, was the first large-scale museum exhibition of its kind to honour photographers. It featured 175 photos from more than 100 photographers. More recently, the Portland Museum of Art organized Backstage Pass: Rock and Roll Photography, an exhibition of 268 rarely seen rock and roll images drawn from the largest private collection in the United States. The largest permanent installation of rock and roll photography exists at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, alongside countless pieces of rock memorabilia.

The rock and roll images of the 60’s and 70’s have changed how we view the world and they are visual reminders of this vital period in music history. The photographers who captured the rock movement on film immortalized a time of revolution and reinvention for generations. They were there every step of the way and are just as much a part of the social and cultural ripple effect as the rock legends themselves.