Stephen Ferry was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. His father, David Ferry, is a poet and translator, and his mother, Anne Ferry, was a professor of English literature. At the age of 12, Stephen began to hang around a neighborhood camera store, where he learned to develop and print. In college he majored in history with a focus on Latin America.  In 1997, Stephen was invited to become a Maestro of the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano, founded by Gabriel García Márquez. Since 2000 he has lived in Colombia.

Since the late 1980s, Stephen has traveled to dozens of countries, covering social and political change, human rights, and the environment. He has contributed to the New York Times, GEO, TIME, National Geographic and many other publications. Stephen has also worked as a visual investigator with Human Rights Watch.

His first book, I Am Rich Potosí: The Mountain that Eats Men (Monacelli, 1999) documents the historical legacy of the Spanish Conquest on the Quechua miners of Potosí, Bolivia. Violentology: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict (Umbrage/Icono, 2012) is the result of over ten years of documentation and investigation into Colombia’s complex armed conflict. Violentology received the first Tim Hetherington Grant, awarded by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch for the long-term documentation of human rights issues. In 2018, Stephen and his sister, the anthropologist Elizabeth Ferry, published LA BATEA (Icono/Red Hook Editions, 2018).

Stephen’s work has received numerous prizes in international photographic contests, and has received grants and fellowships from the National Geographic Expeditions Council, the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Alicia Patterson Foundation, the Howard Chapnick Fund, the Knight International Press Fellowship, the Getty Images Grant for Good grant, the Open Society Foundations and the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund, among others.