(1929 - 2006)

Leonard Freed was a documentary photojournalist and longtime Magnum member. Freed had wanted to be a painter but began taking photographs in the Netherlands and discovered that this was where his passion lay. Freed joined the famous photography agency Magnum in 1972. His coverage of the American civil rights movement first made him famous, and photography became Freed’s means of exploring societal issues and racial discrimination.

Freed studied in Alexei Brodovitch’s ‘design laboratory’ famous for his art direction of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar.  Working as a freelance photographer, Freed traveled widely, photographing blacks in America (1964-65), events in Israel (1967-68), the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the New York City police department (1972-79). Early in Freed’s career, Edward Steichen, then Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, bought three of his photographs for the museum. Steichen told Freed that he was one of the three best young photographers he had seen and urged him to remain an amateur, as the other two were now doing commercial photography and their work had become uninteresting. ‘Preferably,’ he advised, ‘be a truck driver.’