New Orleans in the News: Herman Leonard

Herman Leonard, the photographer who captured archetypal images of jazz musicians, has died. His shots of artists in clubs, studios and stages helped form the public impressions of what jazz is according to NPR blogger Patrick Jarenwattananon.

Herman Leonard, a photographer best known for his iconic images of such jazz greats as Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington and Miles Davis died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a family spokeswoman said. No cause was given.

Leonard was considered one of the great mid-century jazz scene photographers. According to the Associated Press, he started in the late 1940s and left a rich chronicle of a musical era with photos taken in New York, Paris and London through the 1960s.

Blogger Alfonso Cevola writes of Leonard, “I loved how he took an art form, jazz and made art from the folks who made the art. And he took us along with him on this historic journey of a uniquely American music form.”

Mourned by the jazz world, Leonard’s output has become hugely influential with his gentle treatment inspiring a generation of photographers, according to tells the Herman Leonard story.

Leonard’s photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are in the permanent collections of many major institutions. His body of work is a historical treasure and stunning document of the evolution of modern jazz.

According to the New York Times, while his prints were lost in the New Orleans hurricane, his 60,000 negatives were safe, having been sent before Katrina to the Ogden Museum.