Joe Conzo is a famous photographer who is known for his work in the music industry. He has captured some of the most iconic photos in the business with a passion for photography that shows in his work as he works with artists in the rap industry, hip hop, country, rock, and more. If you’re not familiar with this talented New Yorker, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Joe Conzo that you may find to be inspiring.
1. Joe Conzo is a native of the Bronx
According to JoeConzo.com, Joe Conzo Jr. was born in the Bronx, New York. He grew up in the South Bronx community and quickly learned that there were issues in his home city that made life harder for some members of the community because of the lack of equality for all citizens. He was a part of a group that was discriminated against, but instead of becoming bitter, he chose to do something positive about it.
2. He saw the world through a unique lens
There is both beauty and ugliness in the world. From an early age, Joe Conzo Jr. has seen it through the lens of a camera. He developed his passion for photography when he was just a young boy. His photographs caught people during snapshots of their lives in a moment in time. He was blessed to gain early exposure to the Puerto Rican cultural music scene meeting some of the greatest Latin American musicians including Machito, Charlie Palmieri, Ray Barretto, Johnny Pacheco, and others.
3. He received his training early in life
Conzo attended the Agness Russell School located on the campus of Columbia University while he was still a boy. This is when he first became involved with photography. He went on to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City to further develop his talents. His passion turned into a career endeavor and he is formally trained in his craft.
4. His father was an inspiration
Joe Jr. was inspired by his father, Joe Conzo Sr. Joe’s dad was a biographer and confidant of Tito Puente, the late legendary orchestra leader and musician in the Latin music community. The elder Conzo had spent years working for Puente. He took his son with him to engagements that would give him access to some of the biggest names in Latin music, where he learned that he could capture these special moments on film.
5. Joe’s Grandmother influenced his passion
When Joe Jr. wasn’t with his father, he was following his grandma, the late Dr. Evelina Lpez Antonetty. She was a passionate activist and community leader who boldly engaged in acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the fact that there was a need for reform of the education system in the South Bronx. She pointed out the disparities in the system that victimized minorities in the area and called for social change. She helped to make him aware of the volatility in the area and it helped to shape his attitudes and opinions from an early age. He too would engage in acts of civil disobedience to attempt to bring about social change. He was a part of a generation that sought to change the world around him to make it a better place to live for upcoming generations.
6. Joe Conzo Jr. is a prolific author
Bronx Documentary Center, reveals that Joe Conzo Jr. is also a popular author. He released a book that became an iconic documentary that documents the birth of Bronx hip hop in the music scene. The title of the book is “Born in the Bronx: A Visual History of the Birth of Hip Hop.” The book has been released twice because of its relevance in today’s social climate.
7. He captured the spontaneity of the hip hop movement
Conzo’s photography and publication is a capturing of the 1970s and 1980s music scene in the Bronx that documents the spontaneous development of the hip hop industry in the Bronx. It delves deeply into the origins of the scene but it goes in-depth with images that move beyond the written and spoken word. It captures the music that grew from the volatile and tough environment of Bronx neighborhoods with the good and the bad. This included the violence, social injustice, and also the flourish of music, fashion, and poetry that arose out of the circumstances.
8. His speaking engagements sell out fast
Joe Conzo occasionally engages in speaking engagements to continue the fight to bring equal opportunities for minorities still encountering issues within the education system. He spoke in April of 2021, and all of the in-person seating sold out fast. The demand to hear him speak was so high that the event was live-streamed so the audience could watch the artists and hear him via the internet.
9. Joe Conzo is distinguished as “The Man Who Took Hip-Hop’s Baby Pictures”
Mr. Conzo took photographs of pivotal moments in the development of the Bronx hip-hop industry. His actions led to his being dubbed by The New York Times as “The Man Who Took Hip-Hop’s Baby Pictures.” Conzo has taken over 10,000 photographs and digitized his entire collection. They’re stored at Cornell University in the University’s library. You can access them through the website.
10. Joe Conzo has done a lot in his life
In addition to being one of the best photographers in modernity, he has led an interesting and productive life. Joe is an author, an activist, and he is also a Combat Medic. He later received his certification, then joined the New York Fire Department. He served as an Emergency Medical Technician. He was one of the brave first responders at the site of the World Trade Center when the terrorist attack took place on September 11, 2001. He didn’t forget his camera as it has become an integral part of his life. Joe Conzo Jr. is one of the heroes who helped to preserve life when tragedy struck the nation.