Jeff Harris, Artist/Photographer: The Text Of Young America


Jeff Harris is a Toronto based photographer who has documented his life everyday for ten years, one photo at a time. His website was nominated for a Webby Award three years in a row. Harris takes a lot of the photos himself, and recruits friends when necessary. When the opportunity arises, Harris will get a celebrity to snap a photo or two. So far luminaries such as Beck, Gene Simmons, and Al Gore (and many more) have contributed. The series has an amplified poignancy due to Harris’ recent life-altering cancer diagnosis. Harris speaks about the challenges involved with a project of this magnitude, turning the camera around on a celebrity, and what happens next.

Chris Bowman: What gave you the idea to start a project like this?

Jeff Harris: In 1998 there was a lot of hype about Y2K and counting down the last days of the 20th century. My grandmother was born in 1900, and I wondered if my grandkids would be impressed that I lived through the year 1999. So I thought I’d make a diary, just take a picture of myself every day because I never quite succeeded with the diary concept. And taking a picture takes five seconds. I just wanted to commemorate every day of the last year of the 20th century. When I was winding down a friend was like “Why don’t you do it for another year?” And I said “Are you crazy?” Then I thought, OK. I’ll document the first year of 2000. After that it just switched to autopilot and we haven’t stopped for ten years now.

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