Guido Rey's adventures as a mountaineer led to his photographic career. In 1893, following several successful climbs and a book about his mountain-climbing experiences, he began to photograph mountain peaks, earning a silver medal from the Italian Alpine Club. He later went on to compose Greek and Roman classicalcompositions in the Pictorialist style, researching the Pompeii excavations and visiting the museums of Naples in order to insure accuracy in his depictions.
Called "without a doubt the best Italian art photographer" by a contemporary, Rey began to make composite images based on Old Master painters, particularly in the Dutch School style of Pieter de Hooch and Jan Vermeer. After Rey made a business trip to the United States, Alfred Stieglitz published his photographs in the influential journal Camera Work in 1908. Writing about the debate over the artistic merit of photography in 1902, Rey proclaimed:
It would seem that in the end a breath of art had finally fallen on the much dishonored child of Daguerre...After a thousand trials, photography has acquired a new consciousness of the noble heights it might obtain, and it now seems near an ideal of beauty long since abandoned.