Everton, a fifth generation Oregonian, was born in 1947, to Clyde Everton, an Episcopal missionary minister, and Frances Pickard. The oldest of three siblings, he was named after his Scottish maternal grandmother, who died after his mother was born. At age 17, while hitchhiking around the world, he literally picked up a camera, abandoned by a disenchanted tourist on a Danish street, and was able to sell his first photos stories when he reached Japan. Returning to the U.S. when he was 19, he landed a job with an educational film company to create college-level archaeological and anthropological filmstrips in Latin America, which led to his introduction to the Maya people in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. To support his personal documentary projects about the Maya and their culture, he took seasonal jobs such as wrangler, muleteer, and white-water river guide. Rural living honed his skills of observation and appreciation of light and weather. He would spend six months at a time in the backcountry, then return to Yucatán, and later, to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned a B.A. in 1981 from the College of Creative Studies an an M.F.A. in 1984.
Through his photographs, Everton shares a sense of place, whether portraits of individuals or of landscape. He is considered a master of the panoramic camera. His magnum opus  is his work with the living Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula. In 2012 the University of Texas Press published The Modern Maya: Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán. Everton chronicles the lives of his Maya friends and their families over a 40 year span. "While most history chronicles the famous, this book is about the lives of ordinary people who are the soul of their culture." He is represented by Janet Borden, Inc. in New York and Kathleen Ewing Gallery in Washington, D.C.
He has contributed to several archaeological books, including The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Temples & Tombs (Scribner, 1999) with archaeologists/epigraphers Linda Schele, Peter Mathews, and Justin Kerr, known for his exquisite rollout photography, A Forest of Kings The Untold Story of The Ancient Maya by Linda Schele and David Freidel, (William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1990), Maya Cosmos Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path by Linda Schele, David Freidel, Joy Parker, Photographs by Justin Kerr and Macduff Everton, (William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993); and work with Jeremy Sabloff and his The Cities of Ancient Mexico Reconstructing a Lost World (Thames & Hudson, 1989), and The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya (Scientific American Library, 1990). Fieldwork, conducted in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, included trips with Schele and Mathews, and, most recently, with American archaeologists Scott Fedick, in Quintana Roo, and Anabel Ford, at El Pilar, Belize, and Guatemala. Reviewing Everton's The Modern Maya Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán, Paul Sullivan, author of Unfinished Conversations and Xuxub Must Die, wrote, "After decades on the Yucatan Peninsula Everton brings us not the mysterious Maya of National Geographic, but, rather, a unique, honest, and moving portrait of ordinary Maya people struggling with the choices and stark changes modern times have forced upon their lives. This is a stunningly beautiful and informative work every bit the equal of Walker Evans and James Agee’s much heralded classic of the American South, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. When it comes to the Maya, there’s no other book like this, nor will there likely ever be another."
Everton's work is included in public and private collections, including Akron Art Museum, Bibliothéque nationale de France, British Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Henry Art Gallery, International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Musée de l'Élysée, Museo de Arte Moderno, Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Tokyo Fuji Art Museum, and Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara.[non-primary source needed]
Hired originally by editors for his fine art eye, Everton earned a reputation as a photographer who knew how to travel. He is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler, where he has photographed stories from Beijing to Big Sur. He has worked with several print and online publications, including Audubon, Condé Nast Traveler, Connoisseur, Departures, Elle, Forbes, Fortune, GEO, Gourmet, House & Garden, Islands, Life, Los Angeles, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Outside, Saveur, Smithsonian, Sunset, Time, Town & Country, Travel Holiday, Travel + Leisure, Vogue, and many others. He is represented by Tricia Burlington at Artist Rep Inc. Everton has taught photography workshops nationally as well as in Mexico and Italy and is a National Geographic Expert for National Geographic Expeditions.
Of his dozens of books covers, his work has appeared on titles by such authors as Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin, Jared Diamond, Bob Shacochis, Nancy Farriss, Terry McMillan, Jonathan Raban, Carol Shields, Alexander McCall Smith, and Julia Spencer-Fleming, among many others.
Awards include El Circo Magico Modelo Top 100 notable children's books in 1979, National Council for the Social Studies, Bettman 100 - Best Photographs of 21st Century (2003), Best Magazine Editorial PDN (2003), PDN World in Focus, First Place, Urban Landscape (2006), PDN World in Focus, The Human Condition, Gold Award, Travel Photography, PATA Gold Awards (2006), Professional Travel and Tourism Photographer of the Year, International Photography Awards (2006), World in Focus, Best in Category (2007), Lente de Plata (Silver Lens), Best Photography for article on Mexico, Maya Intervention, Islands Magazine (2007) Silver, Landscape, Seascape, "Japan's Past Perfect" National Geographic Traveler, North American Travel Journalists Association
Peter Galassi, director of photography at Museum of Modern Art, noted the playful creativity of Everton’s early artistic exploration: “Macduff Everton’s series of ‘fotoverigraphs’ is an unusually imaginative and witty piece of work. No academic could offer a more persuasive demonstration of the elasticity of photographic meaning—or one so full of pleasure and surprise.” An early champion of his landscape portraiture, the New York Times photography critic and curator Andy Grundberg wrote, “Macduff Everton updates travel photography in the same way that Ansel Adams updated 19th century photography of the West. He captures strange and eloquent moments in which time, and the world, seem to stand still.”
Everton lives in Santa Barbara, California. He and his wife, the artist and writer Mary Heebner, married in 1989. Their frequent collaborations include The Western Horizon (Abrams, 2000) and Patagonia: La Ultima Esperanza (University of Texas Press, 2012). Heebner and Everton’s two distinct visions of place often inform each other’s work. They were featured in director Russ Spencer's Full Circle, a documentary about their collaboration on The Western Horizon.
- The Modern Maya: Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán (University of Texas Press, 2012) ISBN 9780292726932
- Patagonia: La Ultima Esperanza (University of Texas Press, 2012) ISBN 9780938531029
- The Book of Santa Barbara (Tixcacalcupul Press, 2010) ISBN 9780982927007
- The Western Horizon (Harry N. Abrams, 2000) ISBN 9780810945622
- The Modern Maya: A Culture in Transition (University of New Mexico Press, 1991) ISBN 9780826312403
- That’s Not Entirely True: An Album of Fotoverigraphs (Tixcacalcupul Press, 1986) ISBN 9780938531012
- El Circo Mágico Modelo (Carolrhoda Books, 1979) ISBN 9780876141068
- Birdmen of Papantla (Ward Ritchie Press, 1972) ISBN 9780378604538
- Photographer's Forum, Macduff Everton and the Maya, by Nell Campbell, pg. 30-38, Summer 2012
- "The Big Picture", by Susan Morgan, Mirabella, pg.32-33, March–April, 1997
- The World's top Photographers and the stories behind their greatest images Landscape by Terry Hope, pg. 68-73, Rotovision, 2003
- Camera & Darkroom, Macduff Everton, by Trish Reynales, pg. 38-47, August 1995
- Meers, NickStretch the world of panoramic photography Rotovision, 2003, pg. 54-59
- "Pro Photo Daily » Books: Macduff Everton's Magnum Opus Among the Maya". AI-AP. 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Christopher Reynolds (September 26, 2012). "Macduff, the Maya, and 40 years of photographs (interview)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- The Modern Maya Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán, pg 38, University of Texas Press (2012)
- The Modern Maya Incidents of Travel and Friendship in Yucatán pg.I,
- LACMA - Search collections - Macduff Everton. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
- "Macduff Everton _ CV". Janetbordeninc.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Macduff Everton Have Panoramic, Will Travel, by Jeff Wignall, pg. 60-64, Photo District News, July 1998
- "Macduff Everton - Expert". National Geographic Expeditions. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Macduff Everton Book Covers". Macduffeverton.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Winners for Corbis' Bettman 100 Photo Contest out". DesignTAXI.com. 2003-10-16. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "B1000097e". Corbis.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "PDN's World In Focus 2006 Winners Gallery". Pdngallery.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "PATA Announces 2006 Gold Awards Winners". Travel Industry Wire. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Professional Winner Page". Photoawards.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "PDN's World In Focus 2007 Winners Gallery". Pdngallery.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Boletín 025 Certamen de periodismo turístico "La Pluma, La Lente y El Micrófono de Plata"". SECTUR. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "2012 NATJA Award Winners". NATJA. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Tixcacalcupul Press Release, That’s Not Entirely True: An Album of Fotoverigraphs(1986)
- Photography: The New Hot Shots," Andy Grundberg, Metropolitan Home, pg. 39-43, July 1989
- "The Book of Santa Barbara The Santa Barbara Independent". Independent.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Patagonia: La Última Esperanza The Santa Barbara Independent". Independent.com. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Macduff Everton". Macduff Everton. 2001-04-21. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "SB NewsPress". Macduffeverton.com. 2001-03-06. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- Everton, Macduff. "The Modern Maya - University of Texas Press". Utpress.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "Patagonia, La Última Esperanza - University of Texas Press". Utpress.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- "The Book of Santa Barbara". The Book of Santa Barbara. Retrieved 2013-11-26.
- A Photographer's passion: chronicling 40 years of Maya, KCRW
- 5 Questions About Travel For Photographer Macduff Everton, The Huffington Post
- The forgotten civilization: Evocative images show how modern-day Mayans have continued traditional way of life Daily Mail
- Unlikely Images Radio Interview with Macduff Everton and Mary Heebner