After her stint in activism, Freedman joined the circus for several months, taking mesmerizing photographs of clowns, chained elephants, and beartamers. Freedman applied a similar level of vigor and rigor to documenting the lives of public servants, photographing intimate moments of firefighters’ and policemen’s work. She followed firefighters in Harlem and the South Bronx for two years at a time women tended to not be allowed in these environments, offering her an unguarded view of their lives. She also took a positive view of cops and thought they faced unfair criticism.
“I set out to deglamorize violence,” Freedman told the New York Times
In the 1980s, Freedman started to work less due to health complications, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in 1988 and breaking her pelvis later. She had hoped to create one last photobook before she died, to be titled Madhattan
, and was featured in the street photography documentary Everybody Street
(2013), alongside the likes of Bruce Davidson
and Joel Meyerowitz
. The Steven Kasher Gallery organized an exhibition spanning four decades of her career in 2015 and, in 2017, a show devoted to her Resurrection City photographs.
Steven Kasher, Freedman’s longtime dealer, said in a statement sent to Artsy: