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Male, born 1949-04-18, died 2014-06-06

Professional History

Photographer/Editor, Seattle Sun, Seattle, WA, c. 1975.

Lecturer, University of Washington, Seattle (UW), College of Built Environments, 1992-2014; In 1996, Stamets had taught two courses at the UW: Arch. 313: Introduction to Architectural Photography and Arch. 413: Special Projects in Architectural Photography.

Between 1991-1995, Stamets completed photography for 22 Historic American Building Survey (HABS)/Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) projects that included: HABS No. WA-197, Music Hall Theatre, Seattle, WA, 1991; HABS No. WA-198, Curtis Wharf, Anacortes, WA, 1992; HABS No. WA-201, Longacres Race Track, Renton, WA, 1993; HAER No. WA-83, North 21st Street Bridge, Tacoma, WA, 1993; HAER No. WA-116-A, Pattern Shop, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA, 1993; HAER No. WA-116-E, Drydock No. 3, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA, 1994; HABS No. WA-209, Japanese Language School, Tacoma, WA, 1994; HABS No. WA-212, Chelan Butte Fire Lookout, Chelan, WA, 1995; HABS No. WA-213, University of Washington (UW), Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA, 1995; HAER No. WA-131, Wyckoff Creosote Plant, Bainbridge Island, WA, 1996. At his death, Stamets had been responsible for over 350 photos included in the HABS/HAER.


B.A., Yale College, New Haven, CT, 1971. While at Yale, Stamets studied various things, including neurophysiology, but also photography with the noted Farm Security Administration photographer, Walker Evans (1903-1975).


Born in Ithaca, NY, the home of two seats of higher learning, Cornell University and Ithaca College, Stamets spent much of his childhood in Columbiana, OH. He and his brothers maintained a well-stocked scientific lab in the basement of the family home, a place that indulged the manifold curiosities John acquired. He developed advanced skills in the sciences, particularly. He attended prep school in south-central PA, at Mercersburg Academy, founded in 1893, where other members of the family had gone. After Mercersburg, he matriculated at Yale College in 1967, graduating in 1971. He came west to Seattle to obtain a doctorate in neurophysiology at the University of Washington (UW), but dropped out shortly after starting. He did odd jobs to support himself in the early 1970s, including driving a taxi, before beginning working at the Seattle Sun newspaper. At the Sun, Stamets began as a photographer and quickly took on more responsibility, becoming an editor who helped to keep the counterculture newspaper publishing. His reputation in local photography circles grew during the balance of the 1970s and 1980s, with architecture gradually becoming his primary subject matter. His major break, photographing the collapse of the UW Husky Stadium's south stands in 1987, brought him national attention. He began working on the Faculty of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the UW in 1992 and remained an extremely devoted and admired lecturer until his death. Stamets possessed remarkable focus, spending most of his time and money on photography and photography equipment. His prime focus was his work, introducing young people to his passions for architecture and photography, and for capturing the next great shot. He had a profound documentary interest in architectural engineering and construction processes; his work sensitized the viewer to the complexity and beauty inherent, but usually unnoticed, in architectural assembly. He died in Seattle prematurely at the age of 65. A memorial service for John Stamets attended by friends, colleagues and students was held on 06/15/2014 in UW's Gould Hall Atrium.

His mother is Patricia North Stamets. The family included five remarkable children: brothers William (Bill), a noted film critic in Chicago, IL, Paul, a world-renowned mycologist and mushroom businessman, North, and a sister, Lilly, a resident of San Francisco, CA.

Stamets never married.

His family name was originally "Steinmetz" but got changed in the US.

Associated Locations

  • Ithaca, NY (Architect's Birth)
    Ithaca, NY

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  • Seattle, WA (Architect's Death)
    Seattle, WA

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PCAD id: 6792