Gervais-Courtellement was born in France in 1863. He converted to Islam, probably whilst in Algeria and was sent to Mecca by Jules Cambon, Governor-General of Algeria. Gervais-Courtellement took there a series of photographs, including a panoramic view of Mecca which is the first view of the city taken by a Frenchman and the first which shows the city in its entirety. It is reproduced in the present book (illustrated here). He was awarded the Legion d'Honneur for his work in Mecca. Later, he documented the Hijaz railway for its opening in 1908 and did another series of views of Medina in 1910. Later in his life, Gervais-Courtellement worked as photographer for National Geographic Magazine.