Behind the Shot: Joan Jett

Behind the Shot: Joan Jett

Paul Natkin, Chicago’s foremost music photographer, shines a light on the stories behind some of his most famous shots for Trope’s Behind the Shot series.

There’s a great story about this shot in the book. It's really hard to look at a picture of Joan Jett playing in a heavy metal band dressed in spandex with spiked out hair and know what the story is behind it.

Joan Jett

In 1985, there was a movie being filmed in town called Light of Day directed by Paul Schrader, who wrote Taxi Driver and various other movies. He was a big Springsteen fan. The title of the movie Light of Day was based on a Springsteen song called Just Around the Corner from the Light of Day. And the movie starred Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett as a brother and sister who were in a rock band that played in clubs around Cleveland. They were a struggling band that was about to break up while their mother was dying in the hospital. It was a really horrible movie. I gotta admit.

At the time my picture of Bruce Springsteen was on the cover of Newsweek, and I got a call the day after the magazine came out from Paul Schrader’s assistant who said, “Paul would like to know if you can come out to the set. He wants to meet you because he’s a bring Springsteen fan and he likes your picture on the cover of Newsweek.” So I went out there and met him and he said, “We would be really honored if you would come and shoot pictures during all the music scenes that we're shooting.”

So I figure, “Okay, that's great. I’ve got this great opportunity to photograph Michael J. Fox,” who at that point was probably the biggest star on the planet, and I got to reacquaint myself with Joan Jett who was an old friend. I started hanging out on the set for about a week and shooting them play together in this rock band. And then, as the movie goes, at one point she quits the band and joins a heavy metal band, so there was one scene that they shot where she's made up to look like she's in a heavy metal band.

For that one moment and for that one day, she was something that she had never been before and would never be again.

Paul Natkin’s first book, Natkin: The Moment of Truth, will arrive at bookstores this summer. This 288-page, casebound monograph, priced at $55 USD, contains work covering every music genre, from jazz and country to punk, blues, rock & hip hop.

Natkin: The Moment of Truth slipcases

Also available in five exclusive paperboard slipcases featuring some of our favorite images from the book. These limited-edition slipcases are only available on – grab your favorite before they're gone!