Born in Billesdon, England, probably in 1825, Bingham first started working as a chemist at the London Institution. In 1847, he published a new edition of Photogenic manipulation, containing the theory and plain instructions in the art of photography", a work that would be expanded and reprinted at least four times over the next few years.
He showed 19 photographs at The Great Exhibition of 1851, and was commissioned by Henry Cole, the president of the organising committee, to create photographs of the winning exhibitions as illustrations for the jury rapport. These pictures and others by Bingham were shown in 1852 at the exhibition Recent Specimens of Photography held at the Society of Arts, London, the first exhibition to focus solely on photography.
Bingham also made photographs of the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris. His ability to take some 2500 photographs at relatively high speeds on this occasion encouraged other photographers to use the collodion process for their work as well, helping it become the most popular method from 1855 until about 1880. Henry Cole sent him at the same time to the Louvre to photograph the masterpieces of the museum collection. At some point in 1851 1855, or 1859, Bingham moved to Paris to work there as a photographer, at first together with the American Warren T. Thompson until Thompson returned to England in 1856. Bingham not only worked at the 1855 Exposition, but also displayed his own life-size portraits, for which he won a Medal First Class. Due to a lack of commercial success, however, he soon stopped producing these huge photographs and stuck to more standard formats.
His work at the Louvre inspired him to make photographic ortraiture a commercial enterprise, and in 1857 he opened his new atelier in the Nouvelle Athènes quarter of Paris, one of the hotspots of artistic activity at the time. He became friends with many artists, photographing them and their works, and started on a new project, a photographic collection of the works of the recently deceased painter Paul