French tourist Herve Gourdel, who has been beheaded by Algerian militant group Jund al-Khilafa following his abduction in the north-east Kabylie region, was a 55-year-old qualified mountain guide.
He was once quoted as saying he had two passions in life: travel and photography.
"I was born in Nice in 1959 and soon discovered the mountain in Mercantour (in the French Alps) with my father and walked the first peaks. So I've had one desire: to return as often as possible," he told France's Le Monde newspaper.
He said he was simply lucky that his qualifications allowed him to "earn a living away from the offices", climbing and skiing.
For years he had trained mountain guides in Morocco, Nepal and Jordan and other places - depending where his clients wanted him to go. He had also visited Algeria several times, according to his friends.
But they say Mr Gourdel had always tried to combine his love for mountains with photography.
"He is mad about mountains and never travels without his camera," Mr Gourdel's friend Elisabeth was quoted as saying by the Aujourd'hui en France daily.
"He is a very nice man, who loves nature and is passionate about his work," Manea, one of Mr Gourdel's photoshoot models, told the newspaper.
"He is adorable, a bit hyperactive. He is the first amateur photographer who enabled me to launch myself as an amateur model," she added.
His friends say he went to Algeria for a hiking holiday and also to explore a new climbing route.
Mr Gourdel was married and had two grown-up children, French media say.