A painter his entire life and a self-taught photographer, he was working for magazines, such as Vogue as well as for brands such as Chanel, Ungaro, Versace and Charles Jourdan.
In 1950, he met Man Ray and became his trainee. He exhibited his first photographies at Galerie 29 in 1952 under the pseudonym of Edwin Hallan. Nowadays his work has exhibited in the most prestigious museums, such as The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Jeu de Paume, The National Art Museum of China, The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and The Moscow House of Photography. His oeuvres is part of the collection of many prestigious institutions such as the MoMA in New York, The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, SFMOMA in San Francisco and the collection of the V&A among others.
Bourdin became one of the most popular and influent fashion photographers of the second half of the twentieth century His “poetry” had something in common with Helmut Newton in that they both had a way of exploiting controversy and giving it life through stylized photographs. But the narrative power of Bourdin’s images, that went way beyond what is considered conventional for advertising, made him the forefather of a new era in fashion photography.