A diplomat by training, Camille Silvy took up photography after a visit to Algeria. His early work focused on the countryside outside Paris. One critic was enchanted by the 'finesse in the details' of his landscapes 'with such grand and well combined effects of light'. After becoming a member of the Societe Francaise de Photographie in 1858, Silvy left for London where he ran a successful portrait studio throughout the 1860s. Once the popularity of the cartes de visite subsided he returned to France.