Move over, Papa Joe! After managing daughters Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s music careers, Joe Simpson is setting that aside and is making a name for himself these days, he tells Us Weekly in an exclusive interview. His true passion? Photography.
“Growing up, we were poor, my mom was always giving us art projects, things to do that we could afford. So at 14, she gave me a camera, and I talked her into helping me with a little darkroom in our garage,” Joe recalls of how his interest began. “I started developing pictures, and I worked my way through college shooting sports, shooting weddings, in fact I shot my own wedding. Tina’s wedding photo was done by me because we couldn’t afford any other way.”
The former “dadager,” 57, got a nudge from his therapist to pick up his hobby again while going through his divorce, and the results have been beyond therapeutic.
“It’s been transforming, because in music I have so many moving players. I don’t do music, I sell it. … But actually with my camera, it’s just me and my art. So it’s been, like, life changing,” he explains. “And then, at 40, I became Jessica Simpson’s father, and Ashlee Simpson’s father. … And photography for me allows me to be just Joe Simpson again. I’m not riding the shirttails of my children, I’m not making money off my children. It’s just me, doing my art.”
Joe has shot multiple magazine covers and campaigns over the last year or so with Rachel Hunter, Nikki Lund, and Angie Everhart, but is particularly excited about his upcoming shoots with Rolling Stone Russia and Russian InStyle.
“I have a very European eye. … It’s really more darks and lights, and sexiness, and beauty,” he says of his style.
Though he may be moving on from managing his talented daughters to a new career for himself, Joe says the Simpsons will always stick together.
“No matter what everyone says, we’re still family,” the photographer insists. “My [ex]-wife and I are great friends. And I’m happy that she’s getting married again, and I’m happy that she’s in love again. I’m about that.”
He’s also about believing in his children achieving even more success, as his managerial work has demonstrated over the years. (Daughter Jessica’s eponymous brand makes about $1 billion a year in retail.)
“The crazy part about Jessica is she’s been working since she was 12, and she’s 35. She’s been working 23 years,” he points out. “She can do whatever she wants to! To me, Ashlee could be Madonna, she’s got every part of that. She started at 14, she’s 31. So I mean, the world is beginning for them.”
Just as his photography world is beginning for him.