Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Leonard Freed, 1929-2006


Leonard Freed, whose photographs documented the civil rights movement and other scenes of human struggle, died from cancer in New York City last November at the age of 77.

Freed was born Oct. 23, 1929, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He studied art at the New School under Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper's Bazaar, an experience that turned his attention toward photography. After graduation he traveled extensively in Europe and North Africa, settling for awhile in Amsterdam.

In 1959 he produced his first one-man show and book, "Joden von Amsterdam" ("Jews of Amsterdam"). Upon his return to the United States, Freed turned his camera on the American civil rights struggle, documenting Martin Luther King Jr.'s march from Alabama to Washington as well as smaller, individual manifestations of segregation and hatred.

In the 1970s he followed members of the New York Police Department as they went about their duties. These photographs were exhibited at London's Photographers' Gallery in 1973, under the title "The Spectre of Violence."

Working mainly in black-and-white, Freed spent 50 years traveling the world to document the struggles of mankind, from the plight of Asian immigrants in northern England to the lives of New York slum-dwellers. He contributed to magazines such as Life, Look, Liberation, L'Express, Paris-Match, Die Zeit and Der Spiegel, and produced films for Dutch, Belgian and Japanese television, including "The Negro in America" (1968) and "Joey Goes to Wigstock" (1992).

A retrospective volume of his work, "Leonard Freed: Photographies 1954-1990," appeared in 1991.