Dr John Murray was born in Blackhouse, Aberdeen, the son of a farmer. He first qualified as a doctor in Edinburgh in 1831 and in 1832 joined the East India Company army medical service. Murray spent the following seventeen years as a ship's surgeon and was present at the first Sikh or Sutlej war in 1845-6. His photographic career commenced after he became the officer in charge of the Medical School at Agra in 1849. Photographs by Murray were published in two series, Picturesque Views in the North Western Province of India (1859) and Photographic Views in Agra (1858).