David Julian Leonard is an American photographer & filmmaker now living in Arles, France. With his French wife Valentine he recently emigrated from his hometown of Memphis, where he had gained a rich variety of experiences in photography, film & video.
As cinematographer, director, & editor of documentaries, Leonard delved into the lush musical heritage of the American South, from his native Tennessee through the Mississippi Delta to New Orleans. He worked on films about Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Mississippi Blues, & Stax Records. He also founded the archive of the Levitt Shell, a historic amphitheater in Memphis, & served as its chief videographer for live concerts.
Earlier experience as a grip & lighting technician on feature films allowed Leonard to work with a remarkable list of filmmakers who came to work in the Memphis area including directors Francis Coppola, Milos Forman & Robert Altman and cinematographers John Toll & Phillipe Rousselot.
While learning the craft of filmmaking, Leonard also explored the art of still photography. Friendship & informal studies with internationally celebrated photographer William Eggleston emboldened his exceptional eye for color, while extensive work with cinematography refined his understanding of light.
Art photography has often brought Leonard to Europe, beginning with a solo show at The Photographers’ Gallery in London in 1999, & later exhibits in Scotland, Portugal, Denmark, & France. Tender is the Light a book of Leonard's photography was released by German publisher Kehrer Verlag in 2016.
Leonard now pursues his passions for both documentary film & art photography in France. He is editing a feature length documentary about musician Alex Chilton in his studio in the Roquette neighborhood of Arles where he has also exhibited recent photography as part of the annual Vois-Off Festival.
Through twenty-five years as a free-lance professional, Leonard has found inspiration in working on projects of all sizes. He has come to appreciate the vital balance between the freedom of independent expression & the rewards of creative collaboration. Through this website he hopes to find new opportunities to collaborate.