Leonard Freed is considered one of the most prolific and timely photojournalists of his generation. Born in Brooklyn, he traveled to Europe for the first time in 1952, where he discovered photography. In 1954 he moved to Little Italy on the lower east side of Manhattan, where his love affair with Italian culture began.
Freed’s career began shortly after World War II with subjects as diverse as his travels. Freed first came to fame in the United States documenting the African American struggle against segregation and discrimination. In particular, he photographed Martin Luther King Jr. through pivotal moments of the Civil Rights movement. He gained notoriety with his behind the scenes photographs of the NYC police department during the 1970s.
Throughout this time, he always maintained a love and passion for Italian culture. During his lifetime he visited Italy at least 45 times, representing Italian culture with emotional and intimate black and white photography. Leonard Freed was fascinated by the warmth, exuberance and empathy of the Italian people. He grasped the culture as few photographers have been able to before and since, capturing the essence of Italy and as newly minted Americans.