John Leonard French was born in March 1906 in Edmonton, London.
He studied painting at Georges Braque in Paris before moving back to London in 1937 where he started working as a commercial artist in an advertising studio as photographic editor.
During the Second World War he served as an officer in the Grenadier Guards.
In 1948 he set up his own photographic studio where he worked on a new form of fashion photography suited to reproduction in newsprint, and also undertook portrait photography.
French worked with many famous top models from the “Swingin Sixties”.
In 1942 he married the fashion journalist Vere Denning.
When he died of Lymphoma in the Royal Marsden Hospital in 1966, she gave his archive to the Victoria and Albert Museum.