Magnum photographer Leonard Freed worked alongside the New York police for several years, documenting the gritty reality of life on the beat at a notorious time of soaring crime and great social unrest, with the city near bankruptcy. Of his near-decade with the police department, Freed observed that “What I saw were average people doing a sometimes boring, sometimes corrupting, sometimes dangerous and ugly and unhealthy job.” His nuanced essay has a poignancy and grace, capturing the camaraderie of officers alongside the people they are hired to protect.
Freed accompanied the NYPD on murder investigations, drug raids, public demonstrations and community outreach initiatives, as well as documenting the ordinary daily grind of the job. This reedited and redesigned take on Freed’s original 1980 book features several unseen photographs from the archive. It is a celebration of this complex and compassionate body of work, which has a social resonance and relevance in today’s climate.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, photojournalist Leonard Freed (1929-2006) rose to prominence for his portrayal of societal and racial injustices, particularly in relation to the black community during the American civil rights movement in the 1960s. He is also renowned for his numerous insightful photo essays on the Jewish community in Amsterdam and Germany, the Yom Kippur War, Asian immigration in England, North Sea oil development, Spain after Franco and his essays on the New York police department in the 1970s, among others.
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Reel Art Press (2020)