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Photography legend Leonard Freed died Wednesday at the age of 77.

Brought up by Jewish parents in Brooklyn, Freed became a leading photographer during the civil rights era and he leaves behind photos that capture the spirit and rhythm of African American life during the ’50s and ’60s. His most famous photo depicts two Harlem children enjoying the spray from a fire hidrant on a hot summer day.

Apart from his civil rights work, Freed’s seminal essays include a documentary series on police and authority, several stories on the Arab/Israeli conflicts and a study on the Ku Klux Klan.

Freed was remembered by fellow Magnum photographers David Alan Harvey and Paul Fusco Thursday night at an event at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York to announce plans for a festival to commemorate Magnum’s 60th anniversary in summer 2007.

Freed had battled and seemingly beat cancer, but he led a private, sometimes aloof life and his Magnum colleagues say his death took them by surprise.

Magnum posted a series of Freed’s photographs on its website Thursday, and Magnum New York director Mark Lubell said the agency would publish memorials from Freed’s fellow photographers on Friday.