Jazz Photographer Herman Leonard

Herman Leonard (March 6, 1923, in Allentown, Pennsylvania – August 14, 2010, in Los Angeles, California) was an American photographer known for his unique images of jazz icons. «President Bill Clinton has called Herman Leonard, „The greatest jazz photographer in the history of the genre.“ Born March 6, 1923 and raised in Allentown, PA, at age 9, Herman Leonard witnessed an image being developed in his brother's darkroom and became enthralled with the magic of photography. As the official photographer for his high school, Herman quickly learned that with a camera in hand, he had an „open sesame“ to people and events, that his shyness might have prevented him from experiencing. When it came time for college, Herman chose Ohio University, “The only university at the time that could offer me a degree in Photography”. His college studies were interrupted from 1943-1945, as Herman joined the United States Army and was sent to Burma with the 13th Mountain Medical Battalion. He had hoped to be a field photographer, but was ironically assigned as a combat anesthetist when he failed a test which required him to identify the chemical ingredients of film developer. After the war, Herman returned to college and graduated in 1947 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.


Herman's most influential teacher was master portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh, with whom Herman spent a year as an apprentice to in Ottawa, Canada from 1947-1948. Herman assisted Karsh in the darkroom and with photographic sittings including, Martha Graham, Harry Truman, and Albert Einstein.

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