Richard Daintree was educated at Bedford School, and started a degree at Christ's College, Cambridge in 1851, but left after a year due to ill health.
Daintree emigrated to Australia in 1852 during its great gold rush. After little success as a miner, he became an assistant geologist in the Selwyn Geological Survey of Victoria (1854), then returned to England briefly, during which time he learned photography.
On his return to Melbourne in 1857 Richard Daintree may have collaborated with Antoine Fauchery to publish a series of photographic albums entitled Australia. From 1858 to 1865 he used photography extensively in his continued work with the Geological Survey.
After his resignation, Richard Daintree performed independently and diligently as a geologist in northern Queensland, where he discovered deposits of copper and gold. Several of his images were shown at the Exhibition of Art and Industry in London (1871), and from 1872 to 1876 he was agent-general in London for Queensland.
Quotes from others about the person
Andrew Hooper of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology wrote: "His surviving photographs are superb specimens of art and recreate well the early settlement of Queensland."
Richard Daintree married Lettice Agnes Foot, the daughter of surveyor Henry Foot on 1 December 1857.