Shirley Baker was born in Kersal, North Salford, and moved to Manchester at the age of two. Her father had a family furniture manufacturing business in Salford, but this no longer exists and the building has since been knocked down. She grew up in Manchester with a twin sister, and is now married with one daughter and lives in Cheshire. She studied Pure Photography at Manchester College of Technology, and later took other courses at London Regent Street Polytechnic and London College of Printing. She has worked as an industrial photographer, as a freelance writer and photographer on magazines, books and newspapers, and as a lecturer at Salford College of Art and Manchester Polytechnic. In 1986 her exhibition Here Yesterday, and Gone Today (featuring photographs now published in this book) was shown at Salford Art Gallery as part of the Images of Salford exhibition supported by the Documentary Photography Archive and North West Arts. She has shown work at other exhibitions in Manchester, and in 1986 had a touring exhibition, My Face or Yours, specially commissioned by Cheshire Arts Services and supported by North West Arts. In 1987 she completed a project on the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, supported by Viewpoint Gallery, Salford, and a Manchester Airport commission for the Documentary Photography Archive which was televised by Granada in their Celebration arts series.