Joe Goldberg is following his dream of being a freelance photographer. The 19-year-old graduate of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School started taking pictures when he was 11 and has been traveling the world since, shooting music festivals, nature and more. He posts photos and videos for his 65,000 Instagram followers and 10,000 YouTube subscribers.
When did you get into photography?
When I was 11. My mom and I traveled to Costa Rica and I brought my dad’s camera and just started seeing how beautiful the world was and wanted to capture it. I started getting interested in travel photography, landscape and nature. After Costa Rica, I couldn’t put down my camera. I brought it everywhere.
What was the first professional opportunity you received?
Sperry Top-Sider, the sailing shoe. I was emailing a bunch of companies, just trying to work with anyone, and that was one that got back to me. They wanted me to be a brand ambassador and sent a bunch of shoes for me to photograph. That led to shooting with a lot of other brands like Swiss Army and then I started working with Lonely Planet, which makes a lot of travel books. I was probably 13 or 14 when I started doing the professional stuff.
How did companies react when they learned your age?
A lot of people like to doubt young people and don’t think they are as skilled as people who are older. A lot of companies wouldn’t trust the fact that I was so young. The ones that believed in me and wanted to trust my vision were shocked and wanted to support somebody so young who wanted to shoot for them. They thought it was crazy. Even though I’m 19 now, everybody continues to say “Oh my God, you’re so young.” The same thing has been happening for six years. Starting when you’re young is such a head start on life. You’re so ahead of the game and so much more experienced. Starting to shoot at 11 got me pretty confident in my work by the time I was 14, and some people don’t start taking photos until they’re 25. It’s never too early or too late to start.
What’s your favorite thing to take pictures of?
I like shooting all sorts of stuff to keep it exciting for the viewers. I’m super interested in nature and also shooting rappers and any musicians that I listen to. Being able to take photos of them is pretty fun for me and very exciting. Also just like powerful stuff.
What’s your coolest moment while shooting?
My favorite memory while taking photos was in 2017 when I first got to shoot any photos of any artists. It was at Lollapalooza in Chicago. I first got to the photo pit and realized that I had exclusive access and was able to be up front and take photos of 100,000 standing people behind me. Right when the music came on it was electrifying.
The coolest person I’ve taken a photo of is probably Travis Scott because he’s just known by so many people and he makes really good music and I’ve listened to him since I was really young. It’s really hard to get to a point to take a photo of him really close up.
What are your plans for the future?
I graduated high school last year, but since I’ve been in eighth grade I knew I never wanted to go to college. I like being self taught because I’m not a big fan of being instructed to do stuff. I like to have control over my work. In the future, I want to make movies; I have a couple coming out soon, I want to write books and make them photo types of books but with lots of words. I want to do music videos on a bigger scale. And take photos that will be in museums one day. That’s the goal. I’ll be taking photos and videos my whole life. Not going to college is not the normal path, but it’s one I’ll risk taking.