Born the youngest of four sons into a wealthy San Francisco family, Francis Bruguière was interested in painting, poetry, and music, and became an accomplished pianist. Upon his return from Europe, where he studied painting, he met Alfred Stieglitz at the 291 Gallery in New York and soon took up photography. While studying with Frank Eugene (Smith), Bruguière joined the Photo-Secession. Although he returned to San Francisco, Stieglitz published one of Bruguière's photographs in Camera Work and included several in the groundbreaking 1910 Photo-Secessionist exhibition at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York.
Around 1912 Bruguière began to experiment with multiple exposures. In 1918 he published a book of Pictorialist views of his hometown, titled San Francisco. Soon thereafter, he returned to New York, where he opened a new studio, and began his famous series of cut-paper abstractions. In 1928 he moved to London where he designed stage sets and photographic murals. The later years of his life were spent mostly in New York, where his attention turned increasingly to painting and sculpture.