Manuel Álvarez Bravo is a talented self taught photographer and one of the founders of modern photography, who was born in 1902 in Mexico City. His father was a teacher but pursued painting, photography and writing, producing several plays and his grandfather was a professional portrait maker. Manuel purchased his first camera at age twenty while working at a government job. He would explore many different photography techniques, as well as graphic art. Influenced by his study of painting at the Academy of San Carlos, he embraced pictorialism at first. He rejected the picturesque, employing elements to avoid stereotyping. Over his career he had numerous exhibitions of his work, worked in the Mexican cinema and established Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana publishing house. He won numerous awards for his work, mostly after 1970.
Alvarez Bravo taught photography at the San Carlos Academy in the late 1930s, documented the work of Mexican mural painters including Diego Rivera, and contributed images to the journal Mexican Folkways. His primary subject interests have ranged from the nude form to folk art, particularly burial rituals and decorations.