“We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Herman Leonard yesterday, Saturday, August 14, 2010. Herma
n was a rare human being, always giving and compassionate. It goes without saying Herman was a great photographer and artist, who loved Jazz music and created a stunning visual collection of the world he loved so much. (http://www.hermanleonard.com/)
If you are not fortunate enough to already be familiar with his name, no doubt you have seen his work. Simply put, he created icons. HIs distinctive way of capturing the Jazz world has influenced the unconscious way we perceive and visualize jazz. Smoky and spotlit, intimate and joyful, he gave us access to the legends of the genre.
His photographs are also a reflection of how he lived, youthful, joyful, and giving. After having lived and worked in Paris, New York, and San Francisco, he moved to New Orleans in 1991, where he found a place perfectly suited to call home. “When I moved here, I found my place,” he said in 2003. “I’ve never felt myself more comfortable in my skin than New Orleans.” I had the rare pleasure of working with Herman soon after he moved to New Orleans. My magazine, Tribe, was doing a profile on our new resident legend and I had the privilege of spending many hours with him pouring over his books and images to select the best work for our story. I still have the book with our original post-it notes bookmarking our final selections. At his
70th birthday party, held in a French Quarter restaurant whose walls were filled with his images, Herman held court with the vitality and curiosity of a teenager and engaged everyone in attendance. He spoke of the new projects he was excited about and I recall being envious of his energy and hoping I would have half of it when I turned 70.
Herman Leonard’s legacy also serves as a reminder of the importance and fragility of our national culture and heritage. His home in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 was in the Lakeshore area that received eight feet of flood water. He lost 8,000 original prints to the flood waters and yet his story is a lucky one. He managed to save all his negatives and could begin printing again. Imagine what we would have lost otherwise. He evacuated to the Los Angeles area and set
up a studio there, but continued to be involved in the New Orleans community. He was exceedingly generous, donating his prints to benefit non-profits, including the New Orleans Photo Alliance, which was launched after Hurricane Katrina.
It should come as no surprise then that, in lieu of flowers, Herman’s family has asked that donations be made to The New Orleans Musicians Clinic, an organization close to his heart. ”
"Above all, enjoy the music" - Herman Leonard : March 6, 1923 - August 14, 2010