Driffield was educated at Liverpool Collegiate and Sandbach Grammar School. He also attended a private school in Southport where he came into contact with a Swiss master called Dr Knecht. Leaving school he became an apprentice to a photographer in Southport but them decided to study engineering. In 1871 he became an engineer at the Gaskell–Deacon Works in Widnes, Lancashire where the chief chemist was the Swiss Ferdinand Hurter. Through a common interest in music they became friends and around 1876 Driffield persuaded Hurter to take up photography as a hobby. Hurter applied his scientific mind to photography and together they carried out important research into the subject. They published eight papers and in 1898 they were jointly awarded the Progress Medal of the Royal Photographic Society.
Driffield died in 1915 and is buried in the churchyard of Farnworth church near his former collaborator Ferdinand Hurter.
^Royal Photographic Society. Progress medal. Web-page listing people, who have received this award since 1878 (): “Instituted in 1878, this medal is awarded in recognition of any invention, research, publication or other contribution which has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging in the widest sense. This award also carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. […] 1898 Ferdinand Hurter and Vero C Driffield […]”