Joseph Byron was taught by his father and grandfather in the studio his great-grandfather founded in Nottingham in 1844.
Joseph Byron worked in the family photographic firm from his youth. They had a growing chain of studios in four English cities. His early years in England were spent as a news photographer, preparing and developing his wet plates in a cab, as well as specializing in cartes de visite in the family studio. Joseph Byron was employed by The Graphic of London and worked on a documentation of coal mines for the British government.
Joseph Byron came to the United States and established a studio in New York in 1888. His firm produced work for a variety of publications, among them Once A Week and The Illustrated America. In 1891, in New York, he pioneered the new field of stage photography. In 1892 he opened his commercial studio in Manhattan.
Throughout their careers, Joseph Byron and his son Percy documented life in New York, creating a monumental record (some 30,000 negatives) of the times in that city, especially notable for the period 1890 to 1910.