Chris Steele-Perkins moved from Rangoon to London with his family in 1949. He graduated with honours in psychology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1967-70) while working as a photographer and picture editor for the student newspaper.
In 1971 he moved to London and started working as a freelance photographer and started his first foreign work in 1973 in Bangladesh followed by work for relief organizations and travel assignments. In 1975 he worked with EXIT, a group dealing with social problems in British cities. He then joined the Paris-based Viva agency in 1976.
In 1979, his first book, The Teds, was published. Steele-Perkins joined Magnum and soon began working extensively in the Third World.
His reportages have received high public acclaim and have won several awards, including the Tom Hopkinson Prize for British Photojournalism (1988), the Oscar Barnack Prize (1988) and the Robert Capa Gold Medal (1989).