Paul O'Donnell was born in Manchester in 1953 and went on to study Chemistry at Durham University. He did not complete the degree and drifted into vagrancy. During this time he experimented with various art practices which eventually coalesced into photographic projects, having his first solo exhibition at The Open Eye Gallery In 1984.
Since then he has had many exhibitions; for example, The V&A London and The Photographer's Gallery Dublin, and has been in receipt of numerous Arts Council grants. He now has an MA in Photographic Studies and teaches full time at Birmingham City University.