Born in Morocco, Bruno Barbey studied photography and graphic arts at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Vevey, Switzerland (1959-60). From 1961 to 1964 he photographed the Italians as protagonists of a small 'theatrical world', with the aim of capturing photographically the spirit of a nation.
During that decade he was commissioned by Editions Rencontre in Lausanne to document European and African countries and was also a regular contributor to Vogue magazine. In 1964 Barbey began his relationship with Magnum Photos, and became an Associate member in 1966, and a full member in 1968, a year when he documented the political unrest and the French student riots in Paris.
Between 1979 and 1981, he photographed Poland at a turning point in its history, which he documented in a widely acclaimed book.
Over four decades, Bruno Barbey has journeyed across five continents and numerous world conflicts, though he does not consider himself a war photographer, he nevertheless covered the civil war in Nigeria, Vietnam, the Middle East, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ireland, Iraq and Kuwait.
His work has appeared in most major magazines in the world. A prolific author who often exposes and expresses himself in book form, Barbey is especially known for his free and harmonious use of color and has frequently worked in Morocco, the country of his childhood. In 1999, the Petit Palais (Musee des Beaux Arts) of the city of Paris, produced a large exhibition of his photographs taken in Morocco during the past 30 years. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the French "National Order of Merit", the "Oversees Press Club Award", and the "University of Missouri Photojournalism Award".
He has been exhibited internationally and his photographs are in the collection of numerous museums.