Born just outside of New Orleans, Skip Bolen took his first photo at the age of 8 with a Kodak Instamatic 124 camera where he soon developed an early fascination with photography. His family traveled quite a bit and someone had to take the family pictures when his father wasn’t. Years later, graduating with a BFA in Advertising and Design, he moved to New Orleans to pursue a career as a graphic designer and art director in publishing by day while photographing in clubs at night with an Olympus OM-2 camera – one of the first bands he photographed were the Ramones. Years later and following his dreams, he moved off to New York City and landed a job at Conde Nast Publications as a junior art director under Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour and Editorial Director/Artist Alexander Liberman where he was able to see and study the photographic works of such giants as Edward Steichen, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, Henry Clarke, Philippe Halsman and many other great Conde Nast photographers. He spent most of his time on weekends in New York galleries studying photography while spending late nights in Greenwich Village Jazz clubs where the work of Blue Note jazz photographer Francis Wolff soon heavily influenced his work. While in NYC, he studied for a short while at the International Center of Photography where he acquired a greater understanding of black and white photography and lighting. After living in New York City for several years, he moved back home to New Orleans where he bought his first Leica camera and a set of Leica lenses to pursue his photography full time – mostly to photograph jazz musicians in his studio in the French Quarter and in clubs. He was influenced and inspired by the extraordinary photographic works of his dear friend, jazz photographer Herman Leonard. After living in New Orleans again for several years, he headed out west to Los Angeles to work as Creative Director at the House of Blues which offered him an inside backstage advantage photographing musicians in club and concert performances both evenings and weekends where he eventually became a freelance contributor for Getty Images and several publications. Realizing yet again it was time to move on after living in Los Angeles for several years, Skip decided to move back home to New Orleans in 2006 to photo-document the rebuilding and recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and to once again pursue photography full-time. Today, he now lives in New Orleans and travels regularly to Los Angeles and New York City while pursuing his own photography projects. He is a member of IATSE Local 600 (International Cinematographers Guild) and works as a unit stills photographer in the motion picture and television industry. Additionally he shoots a variety of entertainment related events for Getty Images and WireImage.com. Skip’s personal projects include photographing the music scene and documenting the disappearing historic landscape of vintage signs, old water towers, telephone poles, historic architecture, cemeteries and other points of interest in New York City, Los Angeles and across the South primarily in his hometown of New Orleans. Skip Bolen’s photographs are in public and private collections, among them the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans, the Louisiana State Museum and the David C. Driskell Center for the Study of the Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and the African Diaspora at the University of Maryland. His photography has appeared in various publications including The New York Times, Life, Rolling Stone, Vogue, New York Post, US Weekly, Elle, MTV, VH-1, New York Magazine, Jazz Times, Downbeat, and many others. Additionally he shoots a variety of NY Fashion Week and entertainment related events for Getty Images and WireImage.com. Skip Bolen is also a member of the Jazz Journalists Association, NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) and is a member of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. Skip Bolen is represented internationally by Getty Images.
- Susan Spicer
- Alexa PenaVega