Alex Harris was born in Atlanta, Georgia, raised in the South, and currently lives in Durham, North Carolina with his wife, Margaret Sartor, and their two children. Harris has photographed extensively in the American South, New Mexico, Alaska, and Cuba. His work is represented in major collections including The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The North Carolina Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, and a Lyndhurst Prize. His photographs have been exhibited in numerous museums including two solo exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published fourteen books including Red White Blue And God Bless You, A Portrait of Northern New Mexico and River of Traps (with William DeBuys), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction. His most recent book, The Idea of Cuba, was co-published in September of 2007 by the University of New Mexico Press and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
After graduation from Yale University in 1971, Harris photographed North Carolina as a part of a Duke University research project. Between 1972 and 1978 he lived in and photographed Hispanic villages in northern New Mexico and Eskimo villages in Alaska. During these years, Harris began to commute to North Carolina to teach documentary photography at Duke University. Subsequently, in 1989, he was a founder of The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and between 1995 and 1998, Harris launched Double Take magazine with Robert Coles, co-editing the publication through its first twelve issues. Harris is currently a Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Documentary Studies at Duke University. Within the Center for Documentary Studies, he is the Creative Director of the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program.