Since 1968 he has been a correspondent with Magnum, the photographic cooperative. From 1968 to 1992, he was the New York Times photographic correspondent from Israel. He has published several books of photography, beginning in 1957. His work is held in numerous international museums and institutes throughout the world.
Born in Berlin to a Jewish family, as a child, Bar-Am moved with his parents in 1936 to then British Mandate of Palestine. He attended local schools.
He was drafted in 1948 and served during Israel's War of Independence, when he was part of the Palmach Unit. Afterward, he worked several jobs, including as a locksmith and a mounted guard, before becoming a photographer. In 1949 he co-founded the kibbutz Malkia in Galilee. Later he became a member of Kibbutz Gesher HaZiv.
After publishing his first book, Across Sinai (1957), Bar-Am gained work as a photographic reporter and in the editorial staff of the Israeli Army magazine, Ba-Mahaneh, from 1957 to 1967. In 1961 he covered the Eichmann trial.
In 1967 he covered the Six-Day war, during which time he met Cornell Capa. Many of his war images brought him renown. Since 1968, he has been a correspondent for Magnum Photos. In 1974 he helped Capa found the International Center of Photography in New York.
In 1968, Bar-Am also became the photographic correspondent from Israel for the New York Times, a position he held until 1992. From 1977-92, he was head of the department of photography at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
He continues to work on his photography. He writes about his work:
"I keep my internal eye open for that other, metaphorical image that transcends illustration to achieve a wholeness of its own. I strive for the elusive entity that is both evidence and evocation, public record and personal vision."
He says that he has adopted Robert Capa's saying, "If your photographs aren't good enough, you weren't close enough," but has added a caveat:
"If you're too close you lose perspective. It is not easy to be fair with the facts and keep your own convictions out of the picture. It is almost impossible to be both a participant in the events and their observer, witness, interpreter. The effort brings great frustration, and equally great reward." 
Bar-Am is married to Orna, an artist. Together they have three sons: Ahuvia, a professor of classics; Barak, an artist; and Nimrod, a Doctor of Philosophy.
- 2000--Israel Prize for photography.
- 1993—Enrique Kavlin Prize, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
- 1985-86--Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
- 1985—IBM Fellowship, Aspen, Colorado, USA
- 1985—Golden Flamingo Award for Photographic Poster, Arles, France
- 1985--Fulbright Grant
- Southward: Micha Bar-Am, Photographs, Israel: The Negev Museum of Art, 2013
- Insight: Micha Bar-Am's Israel, London: Koenig Books / Israel: Open Museums, 2011
- Israel: A Photobiography, USA: Simon & Schuster, 1998
- The Last War, Israel: Keter Publishers, 1996
- Painting With Light: The Photographic Aspect in the Work of E.M. Lilian, Israel: Tel Aviv Museum of Art/Dvir Publishing, 1991
- Jewish Sites in Lebanon, USA: Moreshet Erets-Yisrael/Ariel, 1984
- The Jordan, Israel: Massada Ltd., 1981
- Portrait of Israel, USA: New York Times/American Heritage Press, 1970
- Across Sinai, Israel: Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 1957
- Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
- Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel
- Haifa Museum, Haifa, Israel
- Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel
- The Museum of Photography at Tel Hai, Tel Hai Kibbutz, Israel
- International Center of Photography, New York, USA
- The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
- International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, USA
- Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, USA
- Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, USA
- Henry Buhl Collection, New York, USA
- Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany
- Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany
- Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France
- Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme, Paris, France
- Collection FNAC, Paris, France
- Fundacion “La Caixa”, Barcelona, Spain
- National Maritime Museum, London, UK
- Magnum Photos: Photographic Collection, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, USA