Born in Antwerp, Martine Franck spent her childhood in the United States and England. She studied art history at the University of Madrid, then at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, where she presented a thesis on “the influence of cubism on sculpture.” She began her career as a photographer as the assistant of Eliot Elisofon and Gjon Mili at Life magazine.
She was part of the first Vu agency in 1970 and helped found the agency Viva two years later. She joined Magnum in 1980. She made portraits of artists and writers, but her main focus was humanitarian reportages.