In Loving Memory of Photographer Marvell Smith

By // September 19, 2013 // Posted in Featured Articles, Industry News, Photography, Wedding, WPPI News

It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that another one of our own has been taken from us way too early. Marvell Smith, a renowned photographer and probation officer, was killed yesterday in a car crash while heading to work. Like so many in our WPPI community, Marvell was one of those people with a larger-than-life personality and a heart to match. He was an active part of our little tribe, and while I did not know him well, from what I can see he was one of those people who would enthusiastically lend a hand when someone was in need.

Tragedies like this remind us all how fragile and short our time here is, and that we need to appreciate each and every day as if it were our last.

1236617_10202104290312801_472782747_nI asked Marcia Stuhler, who was close to Marvell, to write something about her dear friend:

“This past March as we sat on the ballroom floor eating dinner at WPPI’s Sony party, I looked across at him and said, ‘Vell, one day your work will hang in an art gallery and I will say I knew you when.’  Vell humbly responded with, ‘My work isn’t good enough for something like that…’

 This is the type of relationship I had with him. So did many other photographers who realized how incredibly talented he was yet he always remained so incredibly humble. He blended the photo techniques of Ansel Adams’s Zone System with digital technology, which resulted in stunning images.

 That’s what every person will see when they stumble across one of his images, but here is what was hidden behind that handsome façade…

 An avid Sony shooter, he started a Facebook group to connect with other Sony photographers who felt the same way, that our ‘alpha’ cameras were top dog equipment in our industry.


You will also find a kindhearted man who would give amazing advice and critique to those looking to better their skills. Yet, he would seek out the same type of advice to perfect his already unique photo style.

He loved spiders…no, I’m kidding. He was deathly afraid of spiders but always poked fun at himself about it.

The man was known for his hats…I mean in almost every photo I have seen him in (or while hanging out with him in person) the man was all about his hats.

He was a storyteller, not just with his images but also with his own life. Every year leading up to his birthday he would post random facts about true events that happened to him while growing up.  

With his witty sense of humor, Vell was many things to so many people—a father, a brother, a best friend and mentor. Mister ‘never let you see him sweat’ was an amazing person who took his love of nostalgia and passion for family and created something beautiful time after time.

We often joked that he was my brother from another mother…so my sweet brother: I will miss you so. Your legacy will live on though your iconic images and those two amazing boys you were grooming to become humble men just like you.”1229957_10202104290992818_626587770_n



A donation page has been set up to help his two boys.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.28.44 AM

Share This Article:

Jason Groupp

Jason Groupp

Jason Groupp is the Director of WPPI and a New York City photographer heavily steeped in the industry. Adoring New York City far beyond any healthy proportion, Jason has maintained his photography studio in West Chelsea for the past 12 years.

Previously from Jason Groupp:


  1. Thank you Jason for sharing this! We have lost an amazing photographer, friend, teacher, and his boys have lost an amazing, amazing dad, who ADORED them. Vell, we love you and miss you already!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful write up on an amazing person. He was a friend, but then he was also a friend to so many. Every time you interacted with Marvell, you left feeling like you were one of the best people he knew. Such an amazing talent, and an even more amazing person.

  3. Thank you for posting this. Vell was an amazing friend to me and helped me through one of the hardest times in my life. He lived his life selflessly and for everyone he knew. He truly was the most amazing and caring man anyone could know. I am so blessed that I got to know such a great soul and experience his warmth. Vell, I miss you so much already. Fly high my angel, I love you.

  4. It’s still so hard to fathom that this happened. I always look forward to his warm and loving smile with a his big hugs galore! He was a truly kind-hearted person who shared his gifts with everyone. You are so missed!

  5. Death could be so cruel sometimes. In fact always cruel. I met him just once at WPPI. But his selfless spirit as a Showiteer made it counted more than once. I love his smiles and I’m sure heaven will be smiling on him too now. May his soul continue to rest in peace.