Joel Harris has been capturing people’s personal milestones for decades, photographing weddings, parties, christenings and more. But his photography has taken a different focus in the past few years, fixing itself on charitable organizations and people that are giving back to those in need.
Harris has been taking pictures for as long as he can remember, following in the footsteps of his father who was an avid photographer.
“I just picked up a camera and knew it was for me,” Harris said. “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop.”
Harris worked on Wall Street and in finance until 2014, before switching careers and getting a job at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), where every day, he gets to be involved in making a difference. For Harris, making a difference isn’t something that’s limited to a job, but extends to other facets of his life. He’s involved with several community organizations including the Mineola Chamber of Commerce (where he serves as vice president) and Kiwanis Club of County Seat, Mineola (of which he is president). Harris said it was his involvement in the Kiwanis and LLS that really sparked the change in his photography.
“I started doing a lot of photography for Kiwanis and I enjoyed doing it,” Harris said. “It felt good to give them my photography. Usually they wouldn’t go out and hire a photographer because it’s not in the budget. But I said they needed to have their work properly documented for future events.”
Harris does part-time photography work for several charitable organizations including the TJ Foundation for Kids and Ronald McDonald House, many times donating his services. Harris said he doesn’t just capture occasions, he documents them, so that people can go back later and see in detail how an event was orchestrated and laid out.
“To document an event is to make a photo outline or minutes of the meeting in a photographic form,” Harris said. “They can go back and see where they put a table, or a banner.”
Nowadays, instead of photographing events like weddings and parties, Harris spends more time snapping photos of fundraisers, benefit dinners and LLS and Kiwanis events. He said he loves taking pictures of people who are not only having fun, but are helping others.
“I love photographing people having a good time and who are enjoying what they’re doing,” Harris said. “Everyone involved wants to make a difference.”
Not only does photographing the events help the organizations document their events, but it also allows Harris the chance to put a spotlight on the community he loves. A 45-year Mineola resident, Harris said taking events helps promote the great things the local community is doing, such as Night on the Town.
“Between the Kiwanis and the Chamber, this gives me an opportunity to sell Mineola,” Harris said. “We always talk about making Mineola a destination spot, we want people to say ‘I want to go to a restaurant or do something in Mineola.’ That’s what we at the chamber are trying to do.”
Check out more of Harris’ photography at www.joelharrisphoto.com.