Toronto. Before photography, we relied on paintings and sketches, like those of Hogarth in 18th century London, to depict the human condition. Later in the 19th century when photography found its legs, some enterprising photographers, like Mathew Brady (American civil war wet plate photographer) and the FSA folk in the early 20th century who recorded the impact of the ‘dirty thirties’ added photography to the tools used to record the human condition.
This accelerated in the thirties and beyond when the minicam craze set in and small negatives became the predominant means to capture live events. At the high end, the Leica cameras (made by Leitz to keep its microscope and optical factory in operation through the depression), Contax (the reaction of Zeiss to the upstart Leitz), and the myriad of firms that merged to form Zeiss-Ikon (mid 1920s) established an era of photographers who could shoot photos on the run.