Ezra Greenleaf Weld, known simply as "Greenleaf," operated a daguerreotype studio in Cazenovia, New York, during a time of intense social and political turmoil. He opened his first studio in his home in 1845, when America began to witness the volatile events that led to the Civil War. At that time, instruction manuals on the daguerreotype process were widely available, and most small towns had at least one studio. In an 1850 advertisement in his local newspaper, Greenleaf offered "Miniatures executed in the finest style, and put in Rings, Pins, Lockets and cases, of great variety size and price."
Greenleaf seems to have been very successful with his daguerreotype business. By 1851 he had leased new quarters on the top floor of a building, where he placed a skylight to receive northern light for his studio sessions. During the Civil War years, he made numerous pictures in and around Cazenovia.