Gary Kolb was born in Cleveland, Ohio in July of 1952. He lived there until the age of eighteen when he left to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from Northwestern with a BA in the History and Literature of Religions with a specialization in Eastern Religious Philosophies in March of 1974. After a year-and-a-half of working as a construction laborer, cab driver, and freelance photojournalist, he went to pursue graduate work in Photography at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He received his MFA in 1977.
Kolb returned to Chicago and worked in varying capacities in the photographic industry for the next two years. In 1979 he was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1985 and Professor in 1997. He chaired the department on two occasions for a total of six years.
In 1986 Kolb’s first book, Photogravure: a Process Handbook, was published by the Southern Illinois University Press. In 1993 his second book, Photographing in the Studio, was published by McGraw Hill. Over the years, he has worked in numerous photographic and digital media and been exhibited internationally. Professor Kolb’s current work revolves around issues of landscape and artifacts culled from the landscape brought into photographic and digital studio environments.
Kolb was a regional or national board member of the Society for Photographic Education for eleven years, including two years as National Chairperson of the Society. Kolb was named Acting Director of the New Media Center in SIUC’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts in July 2002 and in October 2003 he was named Associate Dean of the College. In June 2007 he was appointed as Interim Dean and in July 2008 he was named Dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. He retired from that position in June 2012 and resides outside of Carbondale, IL.