Jimmy Steinfeldt The Rock Star Photographer

The Annenberg Space for Photography presented the Who Shot Rock & Roll Slideshow Night on Friday, September 28, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm. Among the numerous photographers was Jimmy Steinfeldt. Later this year, the photographer of the stars released his first major book, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Lens,” which is an up close and personal look at some of the most iconic images of our time- shot by the man whose work you have surely seen at least somewhere at sometime.

During his thirty years in the photography business, Jimmy Steinfeldt has worked with everyone from Miles Davis to the Ramones. Born in Minneapolis, Jimmy first focused and clicked at age fourteen. Automobiles were among his first photographic subjects.

Jimmy moved to California to study at San Diego State University where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Management. After college he shot his way through many long road-trips and rock concerts armed with his first real camera- a one-hundred dollar Minolta.

As a live action photographer, Jimmy was first published in 1985 in SPIN magazine. In that same year Rolling Stone published one of his photographs of Madonna, which he credits as a major boost to his career. In 1986 his dreams as a music fan and photographer came true when Rolling Stone published his photo of Bob Dylan. CD covers followed from this exposure: Miles Davis, Willie Nelson, John Denver, Dee Dee Ramone and many others.


Jimmy’s Elusive Studios, in the canyons of Hollywood, is his base of operations and has become a haven for music, film and television artists. In 1998 and again in 2007, industry players recognized his work and named him Photographer of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards.

Jimmy’s advice to aspiring photographers? “Try something new on every shoot – experiment with lighting, film, filters and gels. As for your camera, never leave home without it!”

My name is Jimmy Steinfeldt and I am a self taught photographer.

I’m a Rock & Roll photographer. I photograph music but also fashion, movie stills, and corporate campaigns.

Hollywood Sentinel: When did you start doing this?

JS: Thirty years ago. I began by taking my $100 camera to concerts.

Hollywood Sentinel: Where did you get your experience and training?

JS: On the job at concerts, in the studio, and on location.

Hollywood Sentinel: Why do you get started in this?

JS: My love of music and interest in movies.

Hollywood Sentinel: What do you prefer, digital photography or film, and why?

JS: Film, it has a warmer look. Similar to the difference to listening to music as a digital file versus vinyl.

Hollywood Sentinel: Who was the first big star you shot and what was it like?

JS: Stevie Nicks. It was great-the photos turned out terrific.

Hollywood Sentinel: Have you ever dealt with a person at a concert jealous of you that tried to mess with you and your gear and if so how did you deal with that?

JS: Yes, I just ignore people like that. I find that in most cases they just drop by the wayside.

Hollywood Sentinel: Have you ever dealt with a crazy client, and if so what happened and how did you deal with it?

JS: A couple of times in the past. I just move on, it’s not worth the aggravation.

Hollywood Sentinel: What is your best advice to models to make it in the industry?

JS: Arrive at the shoot prepared. Follow the direction of the client and photographer. Let your agent handle business things.

Hollywood Sentinel: What is your favorite camera to shoot on?

JS: Film-Nikon F4, Digital-Canon 5D.

Hollywood Sentinel: What is the trick to shooting in strobe lights with no flash?

JS: Reviewing your test shots carefully. Nothing’s worse then later seeing all the shots have something wrong in them.

Hollywood Sentinel: Who are some of your favorite photographers and why?


Jimmy Steinfeldt: Richard Avedon because he was able to capture the essence of his subjects. Annie Leibovitz because she was able to capture the excitement of the moment. Jim Marshall because he was able to capture joy and rage in his subjects. Cinematographer Karl Freund because he was able to tap into the viewers fears.

Hollywood Sentinel: Who have you not photographed that you would love to and why?

Jimmy: Fats Domino because he is among the few who truly invented Rock & Roll. Also Leonard Cohen, Barbra Streisand, Eminem and Christina Aguilera.

Hollywood Sentinel: Do you like black and white photography, and if so why?

Jimmy: Yes, very much. It is a great equalizer. I think it allows photos of celebrities and non-celebrities to be viewed with equal interest.

Hollywood Sentinel: Now that most people have cameras on their phones, many people may think they are photographers. Why is this true or not?

Jimmy: It is true. They are photographers just probably not professional photographers.

Hollywood Sentinel: Why is being a great photographer a trained skill- for those who don’t know?

Jimmy: I think it is important to work on your craft all the time. There’s no way to excel in photography or any field without constantly training, some call it practicing. This by the way is especially true in the field of music. Ask most musicians and they will tell you they need to play to keep up their chops.

Hollywood Sentinel: How do you want to be remembered?

Jimmy Steinfeldt: Creator of great photographs.

Hollywood Sentinel: Where can people find out more about you, order your book, or hire you?


Hollywood Sentinel: Cool Jimmy, it’s been good talking with you.

JS: Thanks man, I appreciate it!