George Hoyningen-Huene was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia on September 4, 1900. He was the only son of Baron Theodor Hermann von Hoyningen-Huene and Emily Anne "Nan" Lothrop. During the Russian Revolution, the family fled to London and later relocated to Paris.

By 1925, George had worked his way up to Chief of Photography of French Vogue. In 1931, he met Horst P. Horst, who became his lover and frequent model, and who will soon take his place as the next Chief of Photography. In 1935, Hoyningen-Huene moved to New York City and did most of his work for Harper's Bazaar. He published two art books on Greece and Egypt before relocating to Hollywood, where he earned his wedge by shooting glamorous portraits for the film industry.

Hoyningen-Huene's use of light was ahead of its time, appearing before anything resembling contemporary flash photography was available. Working in huge studios and with whatever lighting worked best, illuminating the model with such intensity and aggression. There is something about the texture of his black and white images that one seldom finds in contemporary work. Hoyingen-Huene died on September 12, 1968 in Los Angeles, California, though his work lives on at the J.Paul Getty Museum, The MET, and the Museum of Fine Arts.