David has been photographing the world for more than 35 years. He graduated from Colorado College in 1968 with a B.A. in political science and began working as a freelancer for Time and then Life, first in Washington, D.C. and Miami, and later in South Vietnam.
After two years in Vietnam, Burnett joined the French photo agency Gamma, traveling the world for their news department for two years.
In 1976 he co-founded Contact Press Images in New York. Since then, he has traveled extensively, working for most of the major photographic and general-interest magazines in the United States and Europe. His work encompasses news, features, people, landscapes, and scenics. He is known as someone who can—no matter how challenging the assignment—return with the picture.
Burnett’s work is featured in the 2006 post-Katrina National Geographic article “New Orleans: Home No More,” and in the magazine’s 2007 article, “Orlando: How Walt Disney Changed Everything.”
His awards include Magazine Photographer of the Year from the Pictures of the Year competition, the World Press Photo of the Year, the Robert Capa Gold Medal from the Overseas Press Club, first place in the Presidential category of the White House News Photographers Association annual The Eyes of History, and the Best of Photojournalism Award for a portrait of Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame. American Photo has named him one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography.”