Julie Zener Gallery

Julie Zener Gallery presents an exhibition featuring the artwork of renowned San Francisco music photographer, Jay Blakesberg, to benefit Music Heals International (MHI).

During this special 3 week exhibition, 30% will be deducted from the artwork. 30% will directly be payable to Music Heals International for a direct tax deduction.

View Price List and Exhibition

Music Heals International (MHI) brings music and musicians to the children of Haiti and globally to inspire achievement, resiliency, and creativity. http://www.mhinternational.org/


Jay Blakesberg is an American photographer most known for photographing legendary musicians.

Blakesberg received his first local assignment from Rolling Stone — — photographing U2’s free show at Justin Herman Plaza on Nov. 11, 1987, where Bono famously spray-painted “Rock and Roll, Stop the Traffic” on the Vaillancourt Fountain.

From there, Blakesberg became the chief photographer for BAM, the free Northern California biweekly music magazine, shooting his distinctive high-contrast, high-impact portraits of artists like Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana, Sammy Hagar, Tom Waits, Michael Franti & Spearhead and more.

Blakesberg’s work has evolved over time but his style remains distinctive, leading to a career that has seen his work published on multiple covers and in publications as diverse as Vanity Fair, Guitar Player and Time.


It was in 1978 that I began to borrow my father’s Pentax camera and bring it to concerts. I was just trying to create some memorabilia to hang on my bedroom walls.  Over Labor Day weekend 1978, I shot my first Grateful Dead concert. One year later, September 1, 1979 I photographed the Grateful Dead in Rochester New York with my own Yashica Camera.  It was these photos that were published in the free periodical ‘The Aquarian Weekly” where I was paid $7.50 per photo for the use of two photos that ran along with a review of the concert.  I was 17 years old, and on my way!

My camera was constantly with me as I traveled the country with the psychedelic circus of like minded individuals who were on what Jerry Garcia called ‘The Great American Adventure – following the Grateful Dead”.  It is these early photos that have now come to be recognized as a lasting document of this unique tribe from this moment of time. Although I did not know it at the time, I was doing “Visual Anthropology”, documenting what had started in the Haight Ashbury during the Psychedelic Zeitgeist of the 1960’s, and has continued through every decade since, and lives on today. By 1986 – and living in the Bay Area –  I went for it and began shooting every live music event I could get to. I was shooting every small editorial job that came my way – Mostly Relix Magazine and The Golden Road Magazine, two Grateful Dead themed periodicals –  and living on rice and beans… I was a “starving artist”. On November 11, 1987 I got the call I had been dreaming of from Rolling Stone Magazine to go shoot a free U2 concert in downtown San Francisco. This changed everything.  Doors at other publications started to open rapidly – but it was still mostly live concert photography.  I knew if I wanted to shoot features and magazine cover’s I needed to be able to use studio lighting, as well as shoot in larger formats than 35mm. I found a used Hasselblad (medium format camera) in the San Francisco Chronicle classifieds, and acquired a small portable lighting kit. I started shooting covers for BAM (Bay Area Music Magazine), and Guitar Player Magazine by 1989. Record companies were calling me to shoot for them. Publicists thought of me as “the Rolling Stone Magazine photographer” in San Francisco (I was a freelancer).

The birth of alternative rock was happening, and I was getting calls to shoot young bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, The Flaming Lips and many others – all while hiding my love and continuing to photograph  the Grateful Dead as those 2 worlds still did not quite completely mix yet.  It was an exciting time to be documenting Rock and Roll! The more I shot, the more I wanted to try new things.  I knew the “rules of photography”, and broke them as frequently as possible…intentionally.  We shot film, and there were so many flavors and so many ways to tweak it, in addition to the many different camera formats, we were able to create and define individual shooting styles.

This exhibit here has photos that were shot in 35mm (film and digital), 2-1/4 Hasselblad, and with a 4×5 view camera. Indoor balanced film shot outdoors (Blue Period), slide film developed as negative film, fisheye lenses and non-traditional lighting.  When I shot film, I was often told that my work was very distinctive and easily identifiable as “mine”.  Once I made the transition to digital, it took months of experimenting with digital processing to achieve “my look”.  We now are all using the same basic tools now, but hopefully I have carved out a unique voice in the brave new world of digital photography.

This exhibit is just a small part of the body of work I have created over the last 40 years. I am also presenting many of these images with a new print technology – Chromaluxe Aluminum Dye-Sublimation prints.

Jay Blakesberg ~ San Francisco, February 2018

  • Jerry Garcia

    48" x 41.5" Mosaic Collage Photography on Aluminum

  • Neil Young

    48" x 40"Mosaic Collage Photography on Aluminum

  • Bono

    48" x 36"Mosaic Collage Photography on Aluminum

  • Radiohead San Francisco, CA July 13, 1995

    38.5” x 30" Photography on Aluminum

  • John Lee Hooker & Keith Richards San Francisco, CA April 11, 1991

    36” x 36” Photography on Aluminum

  • Michael Franti Spearhead Hunter, NY June 8, 2013

    20” x 27” Photography on Aluminum

  • Eddie Vedder & Neil Young Mountain View, CA October 23, 2010

    20” x 27”Photography on Aluminum

  • Willie Nelson Mountain View, CA October 22, 2016

    16” x 24” Photography on Aluminum

  • John Lee Hooker Redwood City, CA April 3, 1992

    30” x 38” Photography on Aluminum

  • #107 – Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead
 San Rafael, CA January 31, 1991

    18" x 27" Photography on Aluminum

  • #102 Grateful Dead Oakland, CA December 28, 1979

    16” x 20” Photography on Aluminum

  • #89 Van Morrison Sausalito, CA September 4, 2017

    16” x 24” Photography on Aluminum

  • #39 Tom Waits Cotati, CA August 13, 1992

    36” x 36” Photography on Aluminum

  • Tom Waits Cotati, CA February 4, 1999

    30” x 38” Photography on Aluminum

  • #80 Neil Young Seattle, WA November 10, 2012

    16” x 24” Photography on Aluminum

  • #34 Snoop Dogg Los Angeles, CA February 2, 1998

    24” x 24” Photography on Aluminum

  • #5 Led Zeppelin New York, NY May 14, 1988

    20” x 30” Photography on Aluminum

  • #81 Willie Nelson Arrington, VA September 7, 2014

    16” x 20”Photography on Aluminum