John Vink was born in Belgium in 1948. He studied photography at the fine arts school of La Cambre in 1968 and began working as a freelance journalist three years later. He joined Agence Vu’ in Paris in 1986 and won the Eugene Smith Award that year for his work Water in the Sahel, an extensive body of reportage on the management of water in the Sahel. Between 1987 and 1993 he compiled a major work on refugees around the world; the book Réfugiés was published in 1994. He created and published Themes a photography magazine dedicated to documentary photography.