Like the Alinari brothers, he was initially an engraver and photo editor. At the age of eleven he worked with the publisher Batelli and attended the famous engraving school of Antonio Perfetti. He then worked under the chalcographer Achille Paris as a photo editor, an activity he would later take part in on commission with the chalcography of Luigi Bardi, who also employed Leopoldo Alinari. He then opened his own business, which printed labels, coats-of-arms, and address, teaming up with a photographer to create portraits of celebrities to include in his elegant creations. Around 1860, he decided to personally take the photographs, so he bought from his partner the equipment and opened Giacomo Brogi Fotografo, as he started taking photo campaigns across Italy to document its art, landscape, and customs.