Joe Harris is best known for his portraits of everyday life and people in Harlem, New York. Starting in the 1970’s the people who were his fellow residents were his lifelong subject, children, shop owners, and the community church services.
The Harlem Bookstore is The Tree of Life Bookstore & Educational Center of Harlem, it was located on the corner of 125th St. & Lenox Avenue, The Tree of Life was one of the largest bookstores in America owned by an African American, and worked to resolve the inner city crises of school dropouts, drug abuse, crime and prison rehabilitation.
Joe Harris studied for eight years of night school at the Pratt Institute in New York, and worked in advertising before opening his own studio. Harris later became a photography teacher City College of New York.
Harris’ photographs have been shown at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York. Harris was named one of the top photographers in 1972 by Art Direction Magazine, in the select company of such notables as Richard Avedon, and Annie Liebowitz. Publications that have featured his work include Art Direction Annual, Popular Photography, Time Life Books, Essence Magazine, and Upscale Magazine. The prestigious Camera Club of New York, American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Schomburg Library have all showcased his work. HI works have been included in the book A History of Black Photographers 1840 to Present: Reflections in Black, published June 2000 by Norton Press, and in 2003 published by the Harlem Commonwealth Council, Inc. the book Harlem: Precious Memories . . . Great Expectations feature 58 of his portraits of people who live or have lived in Harlem.