Steele-Perkins considers himself a subjective photographer despite the fact he navigates in a classic documentary context being a member of Magnum Photos since 1979. His main interest lies in the human condition, how we live in and around the world that includes poverty, wars, but also everyday life’s ordinary scenery even in conflict zones.
After having studied psychology and working for the student newspaper, Steele-Perkins entered photography as a freelance and quickly became involved in documenting urban poverty, subcultures and social problems in British cities in the mid 70s, which evolved into the books The Teds (1979) and Survival Programmes (1982).
In spite of extensive travelling and documentation across the world, notably in Africa, Central America, Lebanon, Japan, Steele-Perkins never ceased to photograph Britain. Most of his images have been resulted in books, including The Pleasure Principle, a thorough depiction of Britain in the 1980s, Afghanistan, a poignant diary of his trips over four years (1992), Fuji (2000), Tokyo Love Hello (2007), the long term visual quests in Japan, England, My England (2009), an assemblage of 40 years of observation on Britain and Fading Light (2012), a book on British centenarians.
Steele-Perkins’s latest book, The New Londoners (Dewi Lewis 2019), is a celebration of diversity through his photographs and interviews with migrant families from all over the world who are now living in their homes in London, which has become the most diverse and multicultural city in the world.