Jeffrey Scales was born in San Francisco in 1954. As a young child he would accompany his mother, Barbara, a painter, to art classes at The San Francisco Art Institute and UC Berkeley. At age 11, he was given his first camera – a 35mm Leica – by his father, Emmet, an audio engineer and an amateur photographer. When he was 13, Mr. Scales began making photographs of the Oakland Black Panthers. These photographs – of leaders like Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and other political activists of the 1960’s – were regularly published in The Black Panther Paper from 1968 to 1971. At the age of 14, Mr. Scales’ work first appeared in a mainstream national news publication, Time magazine. He later became a successful editorial photographer, while also working in the entertainment industry on record covers, film posters and publicity campaigns.
Mr. Scales produced record covers for a variety of artists, ranging from pop groups like The Jacksons to Los Angeles punk bands like The Go-Go’s. In 1979, he was recruited to be the photo editor of The LA Weekly newspaper, part of the startup team that launched one of the most successful and well-established weekly newspapers in the country.
In addition to his photographic work, Mr. Scales devoted many years to live-music production as a road manager, production director and equipment manager for performers like Minnie Riperton, Airto Moreira, The Cate Brothers and Cher.
Though largely self taught, Mr. Scales received some training as a teenager from the photojournalist Stephen Shames, and later developed a relationship with the photographer Garry Winogrand while documenting life on the streets of Los Angeles.
In all, Mr. Scales spent more than 20 years as a freelance documentary and commercial photographer – those documentary photographs have been exhibited at museums throughout the United States and Europe and have appeared in numerous photography magazines, books and anthologies, as well as in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, The George Eastman House and The Baltimore Museum of Art. A one-person exhibition, “Pictures From America by Jeffrey Henson Scales,” sponsored by The Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, traveled throughout the United States from 1996 to 2001.
In 1985, he wed Meg Henson and began using the name Jeffrey Henson Scales. In 1998, Mr. Scales became a photography editor at The New York Times, and since 2005 he has also been an adjunct professor at the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University. He and his wife own the Harlem-based photo archive, HSP Archive, and the multimedia company, Henson Scales Productions.