Stephen Wilkes’ photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the nation and featured in the New York Times Magazine, Life, Time, Parade, London Sunday Times, and Travel + Leisure. In 2000, Epson America commissioned Wilkes to create a millennial portrait of the United States, a 52-day odyssey that resulted in a critically acclaimed exhibition that traveled to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. His book Ellis Island: Ghosts of Freedom (W.W. Norton) was published in 2006. Wilkes was featured on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon of NPR and the book received high critical acclaim including Time Magazine’s 5 Best Photography Books of The Year 2006.
Educated at Syracuse University's S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Wilkes awards and honors include the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography, Photographer of the Year from Adweek Magazine, Fine Art Photographer of the Year 2004 Lucie Award, and the Epson Creativity Award. Wilkes’ work is in the permanent collection of the International Museum of Photography in the George Eastman House.
In 1999 Wilkes completed a personal project photographing the south side of Ellis Island: the ruined landscape of the infectious disease and psychiatric hospital wings, where children and adults alike were detained before they could enter America. Through his photographs and video work, Wilkes has inspired and helped secure $6 million in funding towards the restoration for the south side of the island.
Wilkes also shoots advertising campaigns for many of the country's leading agencies and corporations, including Verizon, IBM, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Pepsi, American Express, Nike, Sony, AT&T, Rolex, J. Walter Thompson, McCann Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Publicis, EuroRSCG, Leo Burnett, DDB, and Rubin Postaer among others.
Wilkes is currently represented by Clampart Galley in New York, and Monroe Gallery of Photography, Santa Fe. His photographs can be found on permanent collection at The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film, Library of Congress, Dow Jones Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Jewish Museum, New York.