Stafford Smith has been fascinated with the brutality of photography and how it shoves aside the real for its representation. His personal work has involved a post-photographic investigation into family portraiture, the role of the contemporary father and the relation between the camera and the subject.

Most recently Stafford has been developing new theories for photography in the digital age. Starting from the premise that the first photographer was Medusa and that we are all trapped in a digital hamster wheel of the perpetual present, he risks heresy by suggesting that some of the canonical doctrine of the late 20th century might no longer apply.

Photography has been a second career for Stafford. In his previous life he worked in Japanese television; 3 years at Tokyo Broadcasting System in their New York branch as a camera man and segment producer, and 3 years freelancing in Oregon for Fuji Television and other Asia-related clients. His tenure in television culminated with 2 years at Bloomburg Television in Tokyo, Japan as an on-air presenter and writer of business news. 

In 2002 Stafford returned to the arts and began studying photography at Cornell University with Buzz Spector, Jean Locey and Barry Perlus. He was delighted to combine his lifelong love of making art with the lens based mode of representation that he had developed during his decade working in television.

Since receiving his MFA in photography from Cornell in 2004 Stafford has been devoted to teaching. A 3 year stint at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA was followed by a tenured position at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI, where he currently expounds on the medium.

Stafford enjoys kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and painting.





Curriculum vita


2004   MFA Cornell University, Ithaca, NY            

1987    BA Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Professional Experience:

2014 - Assoc. Prof, Grand Valley State U., Allendale, MI

2008 to 2014    Asst. Prof, GVSU, Allendale, MI

2004 to 2007   Asst. Prof. Lycoming Col, Williamsport, PA

Selected Peer Reviewed Exhibitions:

2018 Solo Show, Black & White & Red All Over,    337 Project Space, Grand Rapids, MI 

2018  Group Show at Studio Oh!, Chicago, IL            4 pieces from Red Portraits

2017 Group Show, Narrative Portraiture, 5 pieces, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, Cincinnati, OH

2016  Photo Festival, Family Portrait Project, 40 pieces, FestFoto, Porto Allegro, Brazil

2014    I AM: Assuming Positions, P.O.V. installation, Kendall Col of Art and Design, GR, MI   

2013    Erotic Friday the 13th Show,  Ugly Stepsister Gallery, Chicago, IL

2013    Picture Perfect 2: Director's Choice Award, Viridian Gallery, NY, NY  

2013    The Family, Juried Show, Detroit Center for Creative Photography    

2012     Artist's Soul, Buckham Gallery, Flint, MI

2012  Family Portrait Project, Solo Show   621 Gallery, Tallahassee, FL          

2010    Family Portrait Project, Solo Show U of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA  

Selected Peer Reviewed Artist's Talks

2018 From Medusa to the Hamster Wheel; an Alternative History of Photography, PAMLA conference, Teaching for the Post-Anthropocene, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA

2017 Photographers Need Not Apply: Photography Doesn't Need You Anymore, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference, Hiroshima, Japan

2015 Pleasing Our Digital Mother, Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Conference, Split, Croatia

2014   Pleasing Our Digital Mother, SPE regionals, Albany, NY & Murfreesboro, TN                

2013     American Culture Through its Photographs, Shiga University, Hikone, Japan                  

2013    Grand Rapids at Night, Talk and Photos, Urban Popculture conf. Prague, Czech Rep  

2012    Idealization and Representation, Morehead State U, Morehead, KY