Looking at Josh Skolnik’s photography, it’s difficult to comprehend his relatively recent start in the field. The man has been a professional photog for two years, and he only got into using a camera four years ago. But, newcomer though he may seem, Skolnik is shaping the game, specifically when it comes to capturing images of musicians and their ecstatic fans. Part of what makes his work so electric is that he figuratively wraps his hands around sacred moments before opening them wide to show his audience natural beauty at play.
Skolnik took photography classes in college, so he isn’t entirely self-taught, but his skills weren’t honed in a classroom or on a campus. They were sharpened in the front rows and mosh pits of shows. He isn’t a photographer placed in a venue, he is a fan first. A professional photographer has the technical skill needed to create well-composed images, and Skolnik does that. But, the passion he has for his subjects elevates his work beyond pretty images and gives them life, a soul. This is why he’s a “go to” for people in the Chicago music scene and festival organizers.
Between gigs, Skolnik took time to answer a ton of questions about why he got into this line of work and what it entails. He was even game for talking about his sobriety and what it’s like to work in an environment famed for drug and alcohol use. If you’re interested in music photography and want to know more about the life of a festival photographer, we’ve found someone you need to know more about.
Why do you do festival photography?
Most of the festivals I lean towards are things that I am personally interested in. Which is what’s so beautiful about it. I am mixing both of my passions into a career. I think that I tend to choose festivals that I am drawn to because of the artists that are playing.
I noticed on your Instagram that most of your shots from the festivals that you posted there are of the artists. Do you spend a fair amount of time on the people attending, or is it really directed at the stage?
I think I post more of the artist shots. Because that’s kind of where I think more of the exposure is most of the time. That’s one of my favorite things to photograph: the artists on stage. But yeah, I definitely get into the crowd and do a lot of portraitures and try to capture those moments as well. I probably post more pictures of the artists than I do of the crowd. But, I mean, I love the vibe.
I love what is going on at festivals. I love how happy everyone is and just capturing the essence of that festival.