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Joe Edelman: Mastering Light and Innovating Photography Education

American Photographer

Joe Edelman

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Joe Edelman [1960-Present] is an American photographer born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, on March 5th, 1960, and discovered his passion for photography at age 11.

His first camera purchase marked the beginning of a lifelong journey. Self-taught with guidance from local mentors, Edelman had his first newspaper photos published at 14 and became the Chief Photographer for the Quakertown Free Press by 18.

Transitioning from newspaper to fashion and beauty photography in the mid-1980s, Edelman became renowned for his unique style lighting and composition.

A dedicated educator, he launched a popular YouTube channel in 2009, providing tutorials and inspiring photographers worldwide.

His innovative techniques and commitment to mentorship have left an indelible mark on contemporary photography.

Read the full Biography below.


Photography Quotes From Joe Edelman

"Your BEST shot is your NEXT shot! So DO THE WORK!" -- Joe Edelman
"Photography is NOT a competition. It is a PASSION to be shared!" - Joe Edelman
"Don't be afraid to suck! Your best work will be found in failure." -- Joe Edelman
"Good composition is like a puzzle. All the pieces must fit together perfectly to complete the picture." - - Joe Edelman
"Correct exposure is a juggling act between reality, imagination, and physics.  A solid command of the physics of photography allows you to manage the reality to create the image in your “minds eye." -- Joe Edelman
"SOOC is NOT a badge of honor, it is code for too lazy to process images. #DoTheWork!" -- Joe Edelman
"Shoot first and asking questions later has consistently prevented me from talking myself out of a great image." - Joe Edelman
"I want my portraits to cause the viewer to pause and examine it — to experience a connection with the subject." - Joe Edelman
"There is NO triangle. Choose your Shutter Speed with PURPOSE and your Aperture with FEELING. Then, adjust the Brightness with ISO." - Joe Edelman
"In this creative endeavor we call photography - the only people who are wrong - are the people who think they are right. There is no right or wrong." - Joe Edelman
"A truly creative person is determined to ignore the rules, has a burning desire to explore whats possible and finds peace in the potential of failure all in the pursuit of a unique vision." - Joe Edelman
"Stealing an idea is better than copying a result. Make the idea your own, and your image will stand out. Mindlessly copying the work of others exposes you as lazy and lacking creativity." - Joe Edelman
📸 Did you know?
A serious trivia nut, Joe appeared as a contestant on the daytime version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire after co-authoring the book; Useless Knowledge: Answers to Questions You’d Never Think to Ask which was based on a popular trivia website that he operated.

Videos about Joe Edelman

📸 Did you know?
After becoming one of the first YouTube and social media influencers in the photography industry in 2009, Edelman dropped all sponsorships in early 2023 citing a need to be more transparent and hold manufacturers accountable for their marketing and pricing practices.

Photography Podcast Interviews Joe Edelman

Click Here for Photography News Articles and Podcast Interviews About My Work

📸 Did you know?
Known for his studio fashion and portrait photography, Edelman loves to shoot sports and abstract images as his personal projects.

Biography of Joe Edelman

Early Life and Introduction to Photography

Joe Edelman was born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, on March 5th, 1960. His mother was born and raised in London, England, and was the daughter of British and Chinese parents. His parents met while his Father, from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was stationed at the American Embassy in London during the Korean War.

He was always fascinated with his parent’s 8mm movie camera, which he was prohibited from using.

At age 11, with money from his savings account, Joe purchased his first camera, a Hanimex Praktika Nova 1B, for $71.00 at Cardinal Camera in Lansdale, PA, in 1971.

He was hooked from his first roll of Plus-X ASA 125 film. He soon realized that Tri-X ASA 400 was where it was at and never looked back.

Early Skill Development

Edelman’s journey in photography was marked by self-driven skill development and guidance from early mentors.

Joe credits his Father for pushing him to seek mentors to learn from. His Father encouraged him to offer to sweep the floor or carry gear in exchange for hanging around a studio or a newspaper to learn from experienced professionals.

A local portrait studio and a local newspaper photographer who had won many national awards became his early mentors.

At age 14, he had his first photographs published in a newspaper: a set of images from the scene of an accident where a person had been struck by a train.

Two years later, at age 16, he scooped the national media with exclusive photos of then-US President Gerald R. Ford at a campaign stop at a shopping mall near Philadelphia. The Associated Press distributed his images nationally.

When the City Editor of his local newspaper called to congratulate him, Edelman asked the Editor to assign him to photograph the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter at an upcoming campaign stop in Philadelphia. The Editor obliged, and the 16-year-old Edelman drew the assignment.

In 1978, he accepted the position of Chief Photographer of the Quakertown Free Press straight out of high school at age 18.

Career Focus: An Evolutionary Tale

Edelman left the newspaper business in his mid-twenties for a more consistent schedule for his new wife and son.

Initially, he opened a portrait and wedding business, which evolved into a commercial photography studio catering to advertising clients of all kinds. His unique approach to lighting and composition quickly set him apart from his peers.

Throughout his career, Joe Edelman has specialized in portrait and fashion photography. He is known for his ability to capture the essence and personality of his subjects, blending technical skills with an understanding of aesthetics and style.

His work often showcases a blend of creativity and precision, using bold colors, lighting, and composition to create striking images.

Transition to Fashion and Beauty Photography

In the mid-1980s, Edelman transitioned to fashion and beauty photography, which would define much of his later career.

He was drawn to the challenge of creating striking, aesthetically pleasing images that highlighted the artistry of fashion design and makeup.

His work in this genre is characterized by its vibrant color schemes, dramatic lighting, and meticulous attention to detail.

Edelman’s ability to bring out the best in his subjects made him a favorite among models, designers, and fashion editors.

Educational Initiatives

Beyond his work as a photographer, Joe Edelman is renowned for his dedication to education and mentorship. His ability to explain technical concepts clearly and relatably has made him a trusted resource for photographers of all levels.

Recognizing the need for accessible and practical photography education, he began offering workshops and seminars in the 1990s.

His innovative teaching style, which combines technical expertise with a down-to-earth, engaging approach, resonated with aspiring photographers worldwide.

He has developed various tools and techniques to simplify complex photographic processes, making them more accessible to beginners.

Social Media Influence

Edelman’s commitment to sharing his knowledge led him to launch his YouTube channel in 2009. Focusing on the “hows and whys” behind making great photographs, he provided tutorials and photography tips to a global audience.

His channel, which boasts over 188,000 subscribers in 114 countries, quickly gained popularity, earning him a reputation as one of the most influential photography educators online.

Edelman’s online educational content covers a wide range of topics, from basic camera settings and lighting techniques to advanced portraiture and fashion photography concepts.

His emphasis on creativity, problem-solving, and understanding the fundamentals of photography has helped thousands of photographers improve their skills and develop their own unique styles.

Edelman also continues to write articles for major photography magazines and websites, further extending his influence and reach.

Olympus Visionary

Edelman shot primarily with Nikon gear for 42 years. Anxious to switch to mirrorless cameras, he switched to Olympus in 2017 and was tapped by the brand as an Olympus Visionary in 2018.

Working with Olympus until late 2022, Joe traveled to the United States to present at trade shows, camera retailer events, and product launches.

During this time, he also served as a Tether Tools Pro Team member. I have been selected as a StellaPro Champion of Light, a Delkin Devices Image Maker, a Photoflex Light Leader, and a featured photographer for Savage Universal. He has also presented at industry events as an educator for Tamron USA and Luminar.

A Different Kind of Influence

At the end of 2022, Edelman dropped all sponsorships, citing a need to better educate photographers to place emphasis on technique and not gear.

A self-titled “de-influencer,” these efforts continue today.

Awards and Recognition

Throughout his career, Joe Edelman has received numerous awards for his contributions to photography and education.

His work has been featured in prominent publications, and he has been invited to speak at photography conferences and events worldwide.

These accolades reflect his impact on the field and his dedication to helping others succeed.

Ongoing Career and Influence

Joe continues to be an active figure in the world of photography. His contributions through his artistic work, educational efforts, and online engagement ensure his continued influence in contemporary photography, particularly in portraiture and fashion.

Joe Edelman’s career is a testament to the significant impact that can be achieved through hard work, artistic expression, education, and mentorship.


Joe Edelman

Joe Edelman is an award winning Photographer, Author, and "No Bull" Photo Educator.  Follow this link to learn more about Joe or view his portfolio. Please be sure to connect on the social media platforms below.
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