Paul Fusco worked as a photographer with the United States Army Signal Corps in Korea from 1951 to 1953, before studying photojournalism at Ohio University, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1957. He moved to New York City and started his career as a staff photographer with Look, where he remained until 1971.
In this role he produced important reportages on social issues in the US, including the plight of destitute miners in Kentucky; Latino ghetto life in New York City; cultural experimentation in California; African-American life in the Mississippi delta; religious proselytizing in the South; and migrant laborers. He also worked in England, Israel, Egypt, Japan, Southeast Asia, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, and made an extended study of the Iron Curtain countries, from northern Finland to Iran.
After Look closed down, Fusco approached Magnum Photos, becoming an associate in 1973 and a full member the following year. His photography has been published widely in major US magazines including Time, Life, Newsweek, the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones and Psychology Today, as well as in other publications worldwide.
Fusco moved to Mill Valley, California, in the early 1980s to photograph the lives of the oppressed and of those with alternative lifestyles. Among his latest subjects are people living with AIDS in California, homelessness and the welfare system in New York, and the Zapatista uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas. He has also worked on a long-term project documenting Belarussian children and adults sickened by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl explosion. He is now based in New York City.