Dominique Deschavanne was born in 1952 in Lyon, France. After English studies at the University of Lyon and graduating from the Centre de Formation des Jounalistes in Paris, she freelanced as a writer for various French magazines. In 1982 she joined the photo department of the daily newspaper Libération. Starting in 1988, she worked as a picture editor for the newsweekly l'Express. She also regularly contributed her writing to the monthly Photographies magazine. She joined Contact Press Images in 1990 when the agency established the office in Paris she now manages.