A successful grocer, Francis Firth took a chance in 1850 when he formed a partnership and opened The Frith and Hayward Photography Studio in Liverpool. In 1856, Frith made an extended trip to Egypt, traveling up the Nile from Cairo to Abu Simbel. He carried with him four cameras and all the equipment necessary to take and develop wet collodion glass-plate negatives. He often complained about the chemicals boiling-over inside the tent he used as a darkroom.
Frith made other trips to the Middle East in 1857 and 1859, then printed and published 1,000s of albumen photographs in a series of deluxe books and albums. The public went crazy for these images and Frith made a small fortune. Although he retired soon after this, his publishing company in Reigate, Surrey, continued to operate until 1970.