10 minutes with Joe Wigdahl

Interviews with Photographers July 11, 2011 8:16 am
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?

I had been doing photography, illustration, design, painting and a bunch of other things for several years after art school. I didn’t really consider being a photographer as a job until my 2nd or 3rd year of being a photo assistant when I realized that my brain worked in a way that fit in nicely with photography. It felt like it came more naturally to me than the other things I was doing and I was surprised that people were asking me to take pictures for them. Wanting to be a photographer was an accidental discovery.


Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

What do you love most about being a photographer, and what is one of the hardest aspects?

I love the huge variety of people, places and experiences I encounter as part of my job. Photographic assignments put me out in the world, I’m given a chance to interact with it and then someone rewards me for my interpretation of how I look at it. In editorial work I absolutely love meeting a new person that I would have never had the chance to meet otherwise, talk to them and take their picture. In advertising work I love working with a group of people who are very talented at what they do to produce something collaboratively that would be impossible to do alone. There are things I would have never done if this wasn’t my job and I’m still surprised sometimes that this is my life.

The hardest aspect is definitely being freelance in a world where there is very little that  can be counted on in any sort of long term. Professional photography is a very tough, very competitive market place and there have been several upheavals in the business since I started due to massive changes in the economy and technology. When it happens I find that there can be a lot of fear out there and fear can push people or businesses to make decisions that they wouldn’t ordinarily make. It’s hard to work openly and creatively when there’s a lot of fear around. It takes a lot of hard work, luck and occasionally a bit of prudent living to make it through those times.


Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

How can an editor be most helpful when giving you an assignment?

If they can actually provide me with the story that the images are to accompany that can be the biggest help. Often that’s not possible though so I’ll talk to them and ask them if they can give me a sense of mood or feel of the image they want and if there are images that they have in mind that they’ve seen that can help point me in a direction.


Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

If you could go back in time 10 years and give yourself advice, what would it be?

Meet as many clients as you can face-to-face.

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Joe Wigdahl

Any words of wisdom for the up-and-comers?

Shoot more pictures than you think you should take and then edit out significantly more pictures than you think you should cut.

It is a constant, active process of being a photographer because it’s about seeing. Try to look at images and what you’re shooting and actively think about what does or doesn’t make it a successful image. It’s always changing.

(Joe is based in Sydney Australia. See more of his work, here.)

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