Jeffrey Henson Scales

Adjunct Instructor

Photo of Jeffrey Henson Scales, by Chad Batka

Jeffrey Henson Scales is an independent photographer, as well as an award-winning New York Times, photography editor who has been co-editor of the annual Year in Pictures special section for over a dozen years and he also created and curated the photography column, “Exposures,” which was a photo essay column that ran in the Opinion section from 2011 through. 2023. He is the author of two books of photographs, of which his most recent book, “In A Time of Panthers, The Early Photographs.” is a newly discovered archive of photographs Mr. Henson Scales made as a teenager in Oakland of the emergence of the Black Panther Party in the 60s. Including his origin story and rare and intimate portraits of the movement’s leaders in action and in repose, featuring epic images of history’s most influential African American activists.

He is also author of the 2017 book “House”, which documents life in a legendary Harlem barbershop over the course of six years.

He contributed photo essays have appeared in The New York Times, two for the Sunday Style section, ”Taking New York by the Hand; From way up in the Bronx to Lower Manhattan, nail artists are helping clients distinguish themselves.” and “Soho’s New Geeks” as well as photo essays for The Opinion section, “Questlove: Collecting Is an Act of Devotion, and Creation” and “My Teenage Years With the Black Panthers”

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, his father, Emmet, an audio engineer and an amateur photographer, gave him his first camera, a 35mm Leica. When he was 13, Mr. Scales began making photographs of the Oakland Black Panthers. These photographs – of leaders like Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton, Eldridge & Kathleen 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. Henson Scales produced record covers for a variety of artists, ranging from pop groups like The Jacksons to Los Angeles punk bands like The Bangles and on to Hip Hop artists like Arrested Development. In 1978, 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. Henson 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.

Mr. Henson Scales spent a lifetime 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 Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The City Museum of New York, The George Eastman House, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Weisman Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Museum of Art at Newfields 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.

He is the principal partner of the Harlem-based photographic enterprise, Henson Scales Productions, which includes the photo archive, HSP Archive. 

He is currently working on a visual memoir project called, “The Archive Project” in which he is digitizing and cataloging over fifty years of his personal and professional photographs, which includes images and narratives from his current books and life as a professional photographer as well as his years in the music industry in which he worked not just as a photographer of album covers but also in the 1970’s as a tour manager and technical professional for major touring artists such as Minnie Riperton, Frank Zappa and Cher.