Thomas Child spent almost two decades, beginning in 1870, as a pioneering photographer in Beijing while employed as a gas engineer for the Imperial Maritime Customs House. During those years there were virtually no other photographers active in the ancient city. Child created a series of approximately 200 photographs of Beijing featuring architecture, people, and daily life in the capital city. His work is the earliest comprehensive photographic depiction of late Qing Dynasty Beijing. A number of Child’s photographs are the only surviving photographic records of important Chinese architecture, including some of his images of Yuanmingyuan.