In 1852 Leopoldo Alinari learned photography and opened a small photographic studio. In 1854 he and his brothers Romualdo and Guiseppe founded a photographic business called Fratelli Alinari Fotografi Editori. The three served respectively as photographer, administrator, and business organizer. The brothers' initial objective was to photographically reproduce all of the major Italian works of art in painting, architecture, and sculpture, which established their reputation among art collectors and historians. Additionally, in the second half of the 1800s the brothers photographed Italian landscapes and cityscapes.
In the 1920s a publishing house, the Istituto di Edizioni Artistiche, which also later acquired the archives of Giacoma Brogi in Florence and James Anderson in Rome, absorbed the studio. The Alinari studio continues to preserve Italy's cultural treasures through occasional publication of some of the more than one hundred thousand photographs from the Alinari holding. The collection also contains some images of Greece and works of art in museums outside of Italy. The Alinari Museum of the History of Photography opened in Florence in 1985.