He was born on February 4 in Mexico City.
He attended primary school at the Colegio-Internado Patricio Sanz (boarding school) in Tlalpan.
He left primary school and started working to help support his family.
He began working at the Tesorería General de la Nación (Mexican Treasury Department).
Edward Weston came to Mexico, accompanied by his model, Tina Modotti.
He bought his first photographic camera.
He won first prize in a photography contest organized by the Regional Livestock Fair of Oaxaca with a photo of two sweethearts on a ship.
His work was selected to be exhibited in the first Mexican Salon of Photography.
After being deported from Mexico, Tina Modotti left Álvarez Bravo in charge of photographing the works of the leading painters of the time: José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, among others.
He won first prize in a photography competition sponsored by the cement company La Tolteca, with the photo La Tolteca. Diego Rivera was a member of the jury.
He exhibited for the first time in a gallery in his one-man show at Galería Posada, Mexico City.
He met photographer Paul Strand on the set of the movie Redes (Nets). Years later, Paul Strand published a text on Manuel Álvarez Bravo in Aperture.
He exhibited with Henri Cartier-Bresson in the Palacio de Bellas Artes de México (Palace of Fine Arts of Mexico). Langston Hughes and Luis Cardoza y Aragón wrote the catalogue texts.
He met André Breton.
He gave photography classes at the Escuela Central de Artes Plásticas (Central School of Visual Arts).
During his trip to Mexico in 1938, André Breton published the essay “Souvenir du Mexique,” which included some of Manuel Álvarez Bravo’s photographs.
Breton organized the Surrealist exhibition “Mexique” in the Galerie Renou et Colle, Paris, featuring some of Álvarez Bravo’s photos.
In Inés Amor’s Galería de Arte Mexicano, he participated in the Surrealist exhibition curated by André Breton.
He started working in the Mexican film industry, joining the filmmakers’ union, the Sindicato de Técnicos y Manuales de la Industria Cinematográfica. He stayed on until 1959.
Diego Rivera wrote for the exhibition of the Sociedad de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Society). Álvarez Bravo published his text “El arte negro” (Black art) in that same catalogue. In El Hijo Pródigo (The prodigal son), Xavier Villaurrutia published the text “Manuel Álvarez Bravo.”
He collaborated with José Revueltas on the experimental film Coatlicue. José Clemente Orozco lauded Manuel Álvarez Bravo in a letter of support to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.
He did the still photography for Luis Buñuel’s film Nazarín.
With Leopoldo Méndez, Gabriel Figueroa, Carlos Pellicer, and Rafael Carrillo, he founded a publishing house, the Fondo Editorial de la Plástica Mexicana.
Luis Cardoza y Aragón published the book México: pintura de hoy (Mexico: painting today) at the Fondo de Cultura Económica, with photos of the murals in the Hospicio Cabañas, among others, by Álvarez Bravo.
He exhibited in Inés Amor’s Galería de Arte Mexicano.
He exhibited in the Palace of Fine Arts of Mexico City to commemorate the four decades of Álvarez Bravo’s photography; Luis Cardoza y Aragón wrote the catalogue text; Juan García Ponce, a text on Álvarez Bravo for the program of the Cultural Olympiad. 
In the late 1960s he gave classes at the national university’s Centro Universitario de Estudios Cinematográficos.
He exhibited in the Pasadena Art Museum and Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The exhibition “Manuel Álvarez Bravo: 400 fotografías” opened in the Palace of Fine Arts Mexico City. Jorge Hernández Campos wrote the exhibition text.
He offered his personal collection of photography and cameras to the INBA (National Institute of Fine Arts). The Mexican government acquired four hundred of his photos for the holdings of the Museo de Arte Moderno (Museum of Modern Art).
He was given the Elías Sourasky award.
He received the National Arts Prize in Mexico and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.
He exhibited in The Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.
He began to assemble a photography collection for Fundación Cultural Televisa.
Octavio Paz and Manuel Álvarez Bravo published the book Instante y revelación (Instant and Revelation; containing thirty poems by Paz and sixty photos by Álvarez Bravo). Álvarez Bravo was named officier de l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (officer of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French government.
He exhibited in the Israel Museum of Jerusalem. The book Dreams—Visions—Metaphors: The Photographs of Manuel Álvarez Bravo by Nissan N. Pérez was published by the Israel Museum.
He was awarded the International Award in Photography from the Hasselblad Foundation (Gothenburg, Sweden).
He went to Spain to attend his exhibition in the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) of Madrid.
He received the Master of Photography Award from the International Center of Photography of New York.
He was given the Hugo Erfurth International Photography Award and the Agfa-Gevaert Prize in Leverkusen, Germany.
He was named Creator Emeritus by the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (Mexican National Council for Culture and the Arts).
The exhibition “Evidence of the Invisible, 100 Photographs” was presented in the Museum of Fine Arts, New Delhi, the Imperial Palace of Beijing, and the Belem Cultural Center, Lisbon.
He received the Gold Medal for Photography from the National Arts Club of New York; the Leica Medal of Excellence; and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit in Portugal.
The Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo (Manuel Álvarez Photographic Center) was inaugurated in Oaxaca. He exhibited in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid.
He exhibited in the Museum of Photographic Arts of Kiyosato, Japan. The exhibitions “Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Retrospective” in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and “Variaciones” (Variations) in the Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City were inaugurated.
As part of the 26th Festival Internacional Cervantino (cultural festival) in Guanajuato, the exhibition “Espíritus Arbóreos: Manuel Álvarez Bravo y Octavio Paz” (Tree Spirits: Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Octavio Paz), based on “Variaciones,” was presented in Mexico City.
“Retrospective” at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California.
National Tribute to Álvarez Bravo. The book Manuel Álvarez Bravo: Cien años, cien días (A hundred years, a hundred days) was published.
Manuel Álvarez Bravo passed away in October 2002 at the age of one hundred.
The Asociación Manuel Álvarez Bravo, A.C. was founded to study, preserve, and spread awareness of his legacy. In 2011 the Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo, S.C. was established as a complementary organization.
2011 The non-profit organization Archivo Manuel Álvarez Bravo (ARCMAB) was established to optimize the activities of this association.