That’s a rap: student photographer finishes tour with famous hip-hop artist


Junior Joe Goldberg’s final stop on Lil Xan’s tour was at The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md.

Jonathan Morris, Guest Writer

The opener has finished their set and the concert-goers are itching with anticipation. Lights pulse in time to the music as Diego Leanos, commonly known by his stage name Lil Xan, bounds onstage. The crowd is screaming for him, but there’s another artist onstage. Standing just a few feet away is a lanky teenager, clad with determination and his Nikon DSLR: professional photographer and CESJDS junior, Joe Goldberg.

In addition to his numerous trips worldwide to places including Switzerland, the Bahamas, Iceland and countless music festivals, Goldberg most recently traveled with Lil Xan on his national tour as his personal photographer.

“My responsibility is to take photos and videos and just create content for him and the other rapper, $teven Cannon,” Goldberg said over a video call.

Being on tour for over a month was hectic, with constant travel and an absence of routine. Additionally, Goldberg had a lot of responsibility: traveling without a chaperone, while also trying to make a name for himself as a professional.

Goldberg said that life on tour was hard to describe. He was a member of the tour just like any other adult in his position would be, eating and sleeping with the rest of the group, be it at a hotel or on their bus, paid for by Leanos’ team.

While on tour, Goldberg had to keep up with his classwork. He and his family communicated with the administration and teachers to address missed classes, given his extended absence.

Laurie Strongin, Goldberg’s mother, said via phone that “As long as Joe committed to keeping up with his school work, [Dean of Students Roslyn Landy] was willing to give it a try.”

Landy said that she and Strongin worked “very closely,” and that “Joe has a tutor who Skypes with him frequently.” Strongin also said that she had no concerns about Joe being unaccompanied on tour, saying that she “really trust[s] Joe” and that they “communicated a lot about making good choices.”

Goldberg said he was especially grateful for the help of his structured study hall teacher, Abbe Luther, with whom he has been working closely on his school work.

Landy said that at first, she was worried that Goldberg’s trip might set an unhealthy precedent for others wishing to do something similar, due to the long length of time that he was out of school. However, she said that “Joe …  has had an offer to be a part of something special that is very exciting and something few people have the opportunity to do.” The fact that it was tied to this opportunity was what ultimately swayed Landy to approve the decision.

While this might be Goldberg’s most notable job to date, his career began when he started taking pictures of nature on a family trip to Costa Rica.

“His interest started when he was about eleven years old and … I took Joe on a trip to Costa Rica,” Strongin said.  “Joe brought a camera with him and he took some really stunning photos and it was clear to me that he had a real talent.”

Goldberg now has over 68,000 followers on his Instagram account, @joe_goldberg, which he uses to share his pictures from concerts as well as to promote his other work. Goldberg has had clients such as Sperry, Swiss Army and Switzerland Tourism. When he is not on tour, he spends hours contacting various companies about photography opportunities.

For others wishing to take a page out of Goldberg’s book, his advice is “work hard and don’t give up when things aren’t going your way, because it’s a long process.”

Goldberg just concluded his time on tour, ending this past Friday, Oct. 19, at The Fillmore in Silver Spring.

Goldberg has had an opportunity that many will never get to have when they’re older, let alone when they are a junior in high school. With pride, Landy said, “He’s very talented … so someday maybe we will say we knew Joe Goldberg when he was just starting out in his career.”