Valdir Cruz was born in Guarapuava, in the Southern State of Paraná, Brasil in 1954. Although Cruz has lived in the United States for more than thirty years, much of his work in photography has focused on the people and landscape of Brazil. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996 for Faces of the Rainforest, a project documenting the life of indigenous people in the Brazilian rainforest.
His publications include Catedral Basilica de Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais (New York: Brave Wolf Publishing, 1996); Faces of the Rainforest (New York: Throckmorton Fine Art, 1997); Faces of the Rainforest: The Yanomami (New York: powerHouse, 2002); with the support of a publication subvention awarded by the Guggenheim Foundation in 2000, Faces da Floresta: Os Yanomami (São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2004); Carnaval, Salvador, Bahia 1995–2005 (New York: Throckmorton Fine Art, 2005); O caminho das águas (São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2007); with a sponsorship by the Stickel Foundation, Raízes: Árvores na paisagem do Estado de São Paulo (São Paulo: Imprensa Oficial, 2010); and Bonito: Confins do Novo Mundo (Rio de Janeiro: Capivara Editora, 2010), sponsored by BNP Paribas.
Cruz is represented in the permanent collections of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., among others. He is represented by Throckmorton Fine Art, Inc., in New York City. Cruz shares his time between his studios in New York City and São Paulo.