Constantine Manos was born in 1934 in South Carolina to Greek immigrant parents. His photographic career began when he was 13, in the school camera club, and within a few years he was a professional photographer. At the age of 19 he was hired as the official photographer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. During this time he attended the University of South Carolina, graduating in 1955 with a BA in English Literature.
After military service, he moved to New York, where he worked for Esquire, Life and Look. His book Portrait of a Symphony, on the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was published in 1961. For the next three years, he lived in Greece, producing work that resulted in A Greek Portfolio, first published in 1972 and an award-winner at Arles and at the Leipzig Book Fair. In 1963 Manos joined Magnum Photos.
Manos's work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Art Institute of Chicago, the George Eastman House in Rochester, and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
His book Bostonians, which celebrates the people of that city, was published in 1974. A new edition of A Greek Portfolio was published in 1999, accompanied by a major exhibition at the Benaki Museum in Athens. In 1995 Manos's American Color was published, and in 2003 he was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for his continuing work on that project.