Blumenfeld was born in Berlin on 26 January 1897. As a young man, he worked in the clothes trade and wrote poetry. In 1918 he went to Amsterdam, where he came into contact with Paul Citroen and Georg Grosz. In 1933 he made a photomontage showing Hitler as a skull with a swastika on its forehead; this image was later used in Allied propaganda material in 1943.
He married Lena Citroen, with whom he had three children, in 1921. In 1922 he started a leather goods shop, which failed in 1935 He moved to Paris, where in 1936 he set up as a photographer[ and did free-lance work for French Vogue. After the outbreak of the Second World War he was placed in an internment camp; in 1941 he was able to emigrate to the United States. There he soon became a successful and well-paid fashion photographer and worked as a free-lancer for Harper's Bazaar, Life, and American Vogue. Blumenfeld died in Rome on 4 July 1969.