John W. Telford was born in Sandy, Utah in 1944. He attended Brigham Young University and started working as a portrait photographer in Salt Lake City. Although he is considered to be self-taught, Telford has gone on to receive his M.F.A. from the University of Utah. Telford is currently a professor at Brigham Young University, but has also taught for the University of Utah, Westminster College, the Salt Lake Art Center, Hill Air Force Base, and the Kimball Art Center.