Martine Franck was born in Antwerp and raised in England and the United States. Franck studied art history at the University of Madrid and the École du Louvre in Paris. Shortly afterward, she launched her photographic career by assisting photographer Eliot Elisofson and Gjon Milli at Time-Life. Franck went on to become an independent photographer, publishing her portraits of artist and writers in American magazines like LIFE, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, and The New York Times. Franck was associated with several photographic agencies during her career such as the Vu agency, which she joined in 1970 (the same year she married Henri Cartier-Bresson), and the Viva agency where she was one of its founders. In 1980 Franck was one of four women to become a member of the forty-four-member Magnum photo agency, where she focused on women's rights and other socially-concerned subjects. All of these associations have helped shape her style of humanitarian reportage.
In the foreword to her book One Day to the Next, Martine Franck corresponds with art critic John Berger on photography. Franck writes, "What I like about photography is precisely the moment that cannot be anticipated, one must constantly be on the alert ready to acclaim the unexpected." This sentiment adequately captures the motivating spirit behind Franck's images. From her portraits of writers and artists to images of children at play, there is a quality of unexpected delight that is present in all her photographs. Martine Franck left behind an inspiring legacy when she passed away on August 16th, 2012.