Sergio Larrain was born in 1931 in Santiago de Chile. He studied music before taking up photography in 1949. Then, from that year until 1953 he studied forestry at the University of California at Berkeley. Afterwards he attended the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor before setting off to travel throughout Europe and the Middle East. Thus began Larrain’s work as a freelance photographer. He became a staff photographer for the Brazilian magazine O Cruzeiro and in 1956, the Museum of Modern Art in New York bought two of his pictures.
In 1958, the British Council gave Sergio Larrain a grant that allowed him to produce a series of photographs of London. The same year Henri Cartier-Bresson saw his photographs of street children and suggested that he work for Magnum. Larrain spent two years in Paris, where he worked for international press titles.