I thought I’d seen “Betty Blue” before. The title seemed vaguely familiar to me. So, for years I avoided the movie, convinced by the pouting girl on its cover that I’d seen it already. A standard piece of Hollywood dross, I told myself. Not even realising that the film was French and subtitled. But once the story started and threw us into the mix with its languid photography and that long, sweaty, obsessive sex scene that introduces the director’s cut, I was hooked.
Friend and photographer to the immortals of jazz, Herman Leonard is the daddy of jazz photography. Paul Boakye caught up with a living legend still in pursuit of pleasure.
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, March 6th 1923, Herman Leonard was eight years old when he walked into a darkroom and saw naked pictures of his brother’s wife developing in a tray. It was 1931 with no Playboy magazine or anything like that around and the nudity shocked him. Then he said, “wait a minute, if he can do that with a camera, why can’t I?”