Photography, like Victoria, was itself fairly early in its development when Hannah Maynard adopted it in 1858, later teaching her husband, Richard. The first photographs were taken in the 1820s. The various 'black and white' processes developed over the next six decades, with the most important progress being completed in the 1840s and making photography a technology available to the masses. (Chronology) Hannah is suspected to have learned the skill with R & H O'Hara of Bowmanville, Photographers, Booksellers, Insurance Agents, Etc., while her husband was in the west prospecting for gold.
At this time women photographers were still fairly unique. Moreover, women that would establish their own business were even more unique. One historian claims to have collected from a number of sources more than 600 names of women in the 19th Century who took photographs, this is not a large number. Portraiture was really the only photographic profession open to women.
By the 1860s it is known that there are 14 women professional photographers working in Ontario and Quebec. Even by 1891 it appears there was only 135 female photographers and 1142 males. These stats also show that there were only 2 female photographers in British Columbia at the time, Hannah was one of them.
While professional photography was a limited venture, it was however a very popular amateur activity. An indicator of this popularity was the popularity of camera clubs and photographic journals. Maynard's Photographic Gallery not only provided a photography services as professionals, but was also in the business of retail sales, which catered to this amateur interest.