In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit and laid to waste so many lives in the city of New Orleans. The home and studio of photographer Herman Leonard (1923–2010) was destroyed when the 17th Canal Levee broke near his home. The storm claimed 8,000 silver gelatin prints Leonard had made; fortunately, Herman’s crew had gathered the negatives and placed them in the care of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. But Leonard’s time in New Orleans had come to a close after nearly a quarter of a century on the local jazz and blues scene. Leonard relocated to Studio City, California, where he spent his final years re-establishing his business.
And what a business it was. Leonard recounted his early years in an interview with JazzWax, recalling, “I opened my first studio on Sullivan Street in New York's Greenwich Village in 1948. I worked free-lance for magazines and spent my spare time at places like the Royal Roost and Birdland. I did this because I loved the music. I couldn’t wait to be with Lester Young at a club and hear him and photograph him playing his music. I hoped that on film I could preserve what I heard. It didn’t hurt that I got into the clubs for free. My photographs helped publicize the clubs, so owners let me in.”Read the Full Story at Crave Online
Photo: Billie Holiday by Herman Leonard. Gelatin silver print, 1949. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution © Herman Leonard Photography, LLC.