Professor Matt Jarvis graduated from the University of Washington, where he studied Eastern European Area Studies. While working an internship in Poland in the summer of 1990, Jarvis began to photograph his travels. Shortly after he returned, his photos earned him the attention of a magazine editor, who hired him as a photographer. After working as a commercial photographer for several years, he returned to the University of Washington and earned his BFA in Photography. He had several articles published during this time as well.
He was hired by the Associated Press to cover the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. He was encouraged by a photography professor to attend grad school, and he earned his MFA in Media Arts from the University of Oklahoma in 2003. Following that, he worked for Journalists Sans Frontieres, travelling to dangerous areas around the world to cover stories there. He worked for JSF until 2016.
During this time, Jarvis began teaching at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he taught until December 2021.