With his parents both dead, at age 13 he moved in with his big brother, Frank Scherschel, who was already an established photographer. Frank designated Joe (1921-2004) as his “vice president,” which entailed holding lights and doing some printing. Initially this turned Joe off to photography. “I figured he was trying to brush off some work on me, and there was no way he was going to do that,” Joe remembered. “But later, when I did realize I had an interest, he ignored me.” Nevertheless, Joe began to pick up Frank’s extra jobs. Unlike Frank, a famous LIFE combat photographer who was thrust into peril on the battlefield, Joe mainly faced danger on the front lines of America’s desegregation battles.
—Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers