Joseph A. Rosen is a freelance photographer based in New York City. In addition to an impressive resume of commercial and editorial photography work, Rosen is perhaps best known for his music photography. Over the course of a career spanning more than four decades, Joe has photographed American music legends such as B.B. King, Cab Calloway, Muddy Waters, James Brown, Fats Domino, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name but a few, and his images have graced the covers of over thirty albums. Today, Joe continues to work with many of the greatest names in music – with a focus in Americana, blues, jazz, R&B, soul, Cajun, and zydeco – as well as major record companies, and music publications. Joe is also highly sought after for commercial and editorial photography projects, with work appearing in publications such as Newsweek, The New York Times, and Sports Illustrated, and notable clientele including Morgan Stanley, American Express, United Airlines, and JP Morgan Chase.

“Joe Rosen has an innate creativity to see the unseen, to move beyond the obvious and to bring forth an image that is brilliant today and timeless for the memory.” – Dick Waterman, photographer and former manager to Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, John Hurt, and others
A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Joe’s passion for blues photography began in 1976 with a pilgrimage to see Muddy Waters. Since then, he has gone on to build a highly respected music photography career and photographed upwards of 500 musicians. In 2002, The Blues Foundation presented Joe with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive in Photography and Art Award, an honor given to artists who have created a body of work that brings the blues to the public and “made a significant contribution to the [blues] world.” In 2008, he was selected as the “embedded photojournalist” to document the second Bluzapalooza Tour of Iraq and Kuwait. Produced in conjunction with Armed Forces Entertainment and supported by The Blues Foundation and blues record labels and management groups, the tour brought top-flight blues artists to entertain troops stationed at military bases. That same year, Joe became affiliated with the world famous Morrison Hotel Gallery, where his work is shown with the greats of music photography, both contemporary and historical.
In 2015, Joe released his collection Blues Hands through Schiffer Publishing, a series of photographs taken between 1982 and 2014 featuring the hands of blues musicians. The collection presents a powerful exploration into how the gestures and movements of these formative artists convey their humanity beyond the music, finding the life story embedded in the lines and wrinkles of legendary hands. Blues Hands received glowing reviews in outlets such as Blues Blast Magazine, Slate Magazine, and The Guardian. Joe’s photography excels not only as a portrait of the musician but also as a visual conduit for the unwavering spirit of the blues.

Joe lives in New York City and is currently in the process of preparing his next book. 

“As a writer, I often feel that a Joe Rosen photo is…the ‘secret ingredient’ – the special sauce – that wholly transforms the editorial package, working with the words to create an experience for the reader that’s worth more than the sum of its parts.” – Don Wilcox, 2015 Blues Blast Magazine review of Blues Hands


  • 1973 – present: Freelance Commercial Photography. Completing  assignments for numerous corporations, agencies, recording companies, television programs and publications.
  • 1988-1991: Contract Photographer, Chacma, Inc. Produced all types of corporate photography for clients such as American Express, Reynolds Metals, FMC Corp.: world wide locations.
  • 1981-1982: Staff Photographer, Carl Byoir & Assoc. Specialized in photography for Public Relations for clients such as RCA, Eastman Kodak, Hallmark, Children’s Television Workshop and others.
  • 1980: Photojournalist, Pittsburgh Post Gazette. News photographer for major metropolitan newspaper.
  • 1978-1980: Contract Photographer, Pittsburgher Magazine. Exclusive photographer responsible for features, columns, covers, sports coverage, etc.
  • 1976-1979: Lecturer/Instructor, Carnegie-Mellon University. Taught photography in the Department of Art, College of Fine Arts.
  • 1972-1980: Staff Photographer, Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • 1977: Special Assignment, toured People’s Republic of China studying communes and commune life. Photos appeared in numerous publications. 


  • Photographs regularly appear in publications such as Time, Newsweek, New York Times, etc. and numerous music, trade and corporate publications.
  • One Man Exhibit, “Blues Hands,” Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, MS
  • Toured Iraq and Kuwait as embedded photojournalist with Bluzapalooza (Blues musicians entertaining the troops.)
  •  Joined Morrison Hotel Gallery for Fine Art Music Photography
  • Lead photographer and workshop instructor for the Legendary R&B Cruise.
  • Received the Keeping the Blues Alive Award  for Photography and Art from the Blues Foundation, Memphis, TN.
  • Major Contributor, Images of the Blue, Friedman-Fairfax Pub.
  • Feature Article, “In the Spotlight,” Blue Access magazine; Fall 1996.
  • Group Show; “Rhythm & Blues,” Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CN.
  • One Man Exhibit, “Portraits in Rhythm,” WBGO Gallery, Newark, NJ.
  • Provided photography for Preserving America’s Soul Calendar produced by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, Washington, DC.
  • One Man Exhibit, “Pioneers,” Newport Rhythm & Blues Festival
  • One Man Exhibit, Books & Co., New York, NY.
  • One Man Exhibit, Hewlett Gallery, College of Fine Arts, Carnegie-Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA.
  • One Man Exhibit, “In and About Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.
  • One Man Exhibit, Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, PA.


  • Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA — B.A. Photography and Related Studies, 1973.


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