Consuelo Kanaga was born in Astoria, Oregon, in 1894. Kanaga became a journalist with theSan Francisco Chronicle in 1915. She joined the California Camera Club where she met Dorothea Lange.
In 1922 Kanaga moved to New York where she became a photojournalist with the New York American. She exhibited with the Group f/64 but never became a member. Kanaga, a socialist, began working with radical journals such as the New Masses and lectured at the Photo League. In 1936 she worked for Index of American Design, a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.
Some of Kanaga's photographs appeared in The Family of Man, an exhibition organized by Edward Steichen in 1955. In the 1960s Kanaga worked as a covering the struggle for African American civil rights. Consuelo Kanaga died in New York in 1978.