Roberta Bayley was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended San Francisco State University for three years before dropping out in 1971 and heading to London.
Roberta worked as a door person at CBGB’s, New York’s legendary Lower East Side punk club, and subsequently befriended leading musicians on the punk scene. She is known as one of the principal photographers to visually chronicle the punk rock music movement from the mid 70s through the early 80s. Roberta was also the chief photographer for Punk magazine.
Among the punk music artists she has photographed are Iggy Pop, Blondie, Richard Hell, Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols, Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers, The Ramones, Nick Lowe, The Damned, The Clash, The Dead Boys, Ian Dury, X-Ray Spex, Rockpile and The New York Dolls.
Monographs of Roberta's photographs are featured in multiple books, while she herself co-wrote the book Patti Smith: An Unauthorized Biography. She appeared on screen as a street girl in the gritty independent feature New York Beat Movie starring Jean Michel Basquiat.
Roberta’s photographs have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Austin, Paris, Portland, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Mexico City, Berlín, Buenos Aires and Pittsburgh.
She lives and works in New York City.