Although born and brought up in Scotland, Mennie spent most of his life in China. According to Scotland’s 1891 census, the young Mennie was training as a chemist in Golspie, Sutherland. By 1914 he was working in China for the pharmacy firm A.S. Watson & Co. In 1934 the firm was listed as a “dealer in all kinds of photographic chemicals and apparatus”, a move which may have been influenced by Mennie’s interest in photography. Mennie’s first photographic work dates from 1914 and in 1920 he published his earliest photo-book. His passion for travel fuelled his photography and in 1926 he produced his magnum opus, ‘Grandeur of the Gorges’, which recorded his journey up the Yangtze River. Mennie’s style was concerned with capturing the atmospheric quality of the scene, not merely documenting it.