In the annals of photography, few people have made the kind of impact that Oskar Barnack can claim. While working for Leitz, then a microscope manufacturer, the master entineer and photography enthusiast invented the original Ur-Leica: a camera that would change the world.
This short documentary—released earlier today by Leica to introduce people to the inspiration for the Leica Oskar Barnack Awards—shares Barnack’s whole life story. It covers everything from his early training as a precision engineer, to his stint at Carl Zeiss, to his fateful move to Leitz and the camera he created there.
But Barnack didn’t just invent a camera. His creation gave birth to a new era of photography. Finally, people could photograph what they were seeing as it happened and in very high quality; the youth of the early 1900s embraced this invention with open arms and spawned a brand new style of photography in the process.
If you consider yourself a photography buff, but have somehow never heard the name Oskar Barnack, don’t waste any time: watch this short 8-minute documentary right now. Make no mistake, Barnack’s personal piece of photographic history is every bit as important as Louis Daguerre’s or George Eastman’s.
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Image credits: Leica I photo by Kameraprojekt Graz 2015 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0.