eonard Freed (October 23, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York – November 29, 2006 in Garrison, New York) was a documentary photojournalist and longtime Magnum member. He was born to Jewish, working-class parents of Eastern European descent.Freed had wanted to be a painter, but began taking photographs in the Netherlands and discovered a new passion. He traveled in Europe and Africa before returning to the United States where he attended the New School and studied with Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper’s Bazaar. In 1958 he moved to Amsterdam to photograph its Jewish community. Through the 1960s he continued to work as a freelance photojournalist, traveling widely. He documented such events and subjects as the Civil Rights movement in America (1964–65), the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the New York City police department (1972–79). His career blossomed during the American civil rights movement, when he traveled the country with Martin Luther King, Jr. in his celebrated march across the US from Alabama to Washington. This journey gave him the opportunity to produce his 1968 book, Black in White America, which brought considerable attention. His work on New York City law enforcement also led to a book, Police Work which was published in 1980.
Early in Freed’s career, Edward Steichen purchased three photographs from Freed for the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. In 1967, Cornell Capa selected Freed as one of five photographers to participate in his “Concerned Photography” exhibition. Freed joined Magnum Photos in 1972. Publications to which Freed contributed over the years included Der Spiegel, Die Zeit, Fortune, Libération, Life, Look, Paris-Match, Stern, and The Sunday Times Magazine of London.
In later years, Freed continued shooting photographs in Italy, Turkey, Germany, Lebanon and the U.S. He also shot four films for Japanese, Dutch and Belgian television.In 1956 he met Brigitte Klück, who became his wife, while on assignment for Look in Rome. They had a daughter, Elke Susannah. Freed died in upstate New York after a battle with prostate cancer on November 29, 2006.