Bedford Lemere & Co. did not begin as specialist photographers of new buildings. Its earliest work included the copying of architectural competition drawings and, like many other photographic firms of the day, it also produced portraits.
By the early 1870s the firm was involved in promoting good architectural design through the medium of photography. Its earliest surviving body of work is that carried out for the Royal Architectural Museum. The museum's purpose was to improve the standard of design through the display of casts of historic architectural details. The firm's photographs of these casts made them more readily available to craftsmen, architects and students.
Many of the museum's members, including influential architects and their patrons, became Bedford Lemere & Co.'s clients in their own right.