Simon Norfolk was born in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1963 and educated in England, finishing at Oxford and Bristol Universities with a degree in philosophy and sociology.
After leaving a documentary photography course in Newport, South Wales, Norfolk worked for far-left publications specializing in work on anti-racist activities and fascist groups, in particular the British National Party. In 1994 he gave up photojournalism in favor of landscape photography.
His book For Most of It I Have No Words: Genocide, Landscape, Memory, about the places that have witnessed genocide, was published in 1998. The work was exhibited at many venues, including the Imperial War Museum in London, the Nederlands Foto Instituut, and the Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas. Photographs of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, published as Afghanistan: Chronotopia, won the European Publishers' Award for Photography and an award from the Foreign Press Club of America and was nominated for the Citibank Prize.
In 2004, Norfolk won the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in New York and in 2005 Le Prix Dialogue in Arles. His most recent book, Bleed, about the aftermath of war in Bosnia, was published in 2005. His work appears regularly in the New York Times Magazine and the Guardian Weekend.