He is the man in the black cap who gracefully wisks across the stage during a live musical performance, and if you’ve blinked, you might not know he was even there. He is the one who can capture magic on film during a studio portrait shoot, bringing out the true essence of his subject. He is the shadow against the wall, or in the back of the room, documenting an event on location in a way that makes you feel like you were there. Some call him Joe Hardwick. Most know him as Nashville’s one and only, “FotoJo.”

Hardwick was born into a military family in Germany, but made his way to the states shortly thereafter. He found his home in Nashville in 1987 where he attended Middle Tennessee State University graduating with a degree in Mass Communications. He began his career in photography by working his way through college in a photo lab. When a young actor came in seeking inexpensive headshots, Hardwick jumped on the opportunity to perform the shoot. The actor’s agent was so impressed by his talent that he took the young photographer under his wing and helped develop his career. Eventually, Hardwick’s freelance photography blossomed into a full-blown business and he was able to open his studio, Studio SoBro. For the next five years, the photographer worked regularly for local talent agencies.

In 1998, Hardwick moved to New York City and worked as an assistant and performed custom printing for a top fashion and celebrity photographer. After getting a taste of these types of shoots, Hardwick returned to Nashville inspired to seek out his own creative ventures. In Nashville, he became involved with and eventually joined the board of both the Untitled Artist Group and the East Nashville Artist Co-Op Plowhaus. These groups taught him how to organize and coordinate art shows and opened up creative outlets and networking for him and fellow local artists.

Through various circumstances and a little luck, Hardwick began shooting for the nationally distributed magazine, Country Weekly, which broadened his exposure and landed him several contacts with artist management, publicists, and major record labels. As a result, Hardwick now regularly shoots studio portraits, live performances, travel stories, and on location events for some of Nashville’s biggest stars. His work can be found on the pages of Country Weekly, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and many other notable editorial outlets.

For the last few years, Hardwick has been the official photographer for platinum country act, Big and Rich, documenting all aspects of their day-to-day life from personal family shots to travel, performances, and national ad campaigns. He put together a highly coveted hard cover yearbook for the duo which was a pictorial diary of two years of touring.

Currently, Hardwick is pursuing several other projects in addition to his busy client schedule at Studio SoBro and being on the road with artists. He is working on a coffee table book which documents through photos all levels of touring bands, from vans to tour buses. He also has several websites in the works, including his business site www.joehardwick.com as well as www.weeknphotos.com featuring work from local photographers and acting as a resource for Nashville photography community.