1983, Sienna, Italy. Photograph by Leonard Freed.
1983, Sienna, Italy. Photograph by Leonard Freed.

This is a photo taken by Leonard Freed in his book The Italians. It’s a beautiful, joyous moment that doesn’t need justification. What’s powerful is that my focus isn’t on his subjects. It’s on him. I’m left wondering who Freed was — how this Brooklyn-born photographer ended up in 1980’s Siena completely embedded in these Italian cultural moments without anyone giving him a second look. There was a lot I could relate to through this American and his intimate relationship with Italians. I can’t see him, but his presence is very much a part of his work, for me. ¶ I was mesmerized by how he managed to capture Italy in a way that looked and felt like it could have been 50 or even 100 years before it was taken, which is a testament to Freed’s talent and a country with such deep historical roots. Suffice it to say, I bought my first few rolls of black and white film and headed to Italy shortly after.

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