Baron Adolf de Meyer spent his childhood in Paris and Germany. He exhibited photographs as an amateur photographer when he was around twenty-six years old. The following year he relocated from Dresden to London, where he was admitted to the Royal Photographic Society and the Linked Ring. He maintained a professional correspondence and friendship with Alfred Stieglitz; de Meyer's photographs were published in several issues of Stieglitz's publication Camera Work and he eventually joined Stieglitz's Photo-Secession. In 1914 publisher Condé Nast hired de Meyer as the first full-time photographer at Vogue magazine and contracted him to work for Vanity Fair. In 1921 he left Nast to work for the William Randolph Hearst publication Harper's Bazaar in Paris, where he became the preeminent fashion photographer of the day. From early on and especially during his magazine years, de Meyer associated with and photographed the upper echelons of society.
Around 1934, a new editor with a mission to redefine the renamed Harper's Bazaar led to the end of de Meyer's illustrious career with the magazine. After travels in Europe, he relocated to Hollywood at the end of the thirties. He died in Los Angeles, remembered for his famous friends but virtually forgotten as a photographer.