Francesca Leonardi was born in Rome, where she is currently based.
She studied psychology and sociology in the university of Rome and then photography at the South Florida Art center (Miami) and at the International Center of Photography (New York). She lived in the United States for eight years where she discovered photography as a way to understand reality. She first experimented the language of fashion photography to stage stories than gradually shifted her interest to social reportage when in 2004 collaborated with director Giulia Amati on a video documentary project on the economic and social relations between Mexico and United States. In 2006 she moves back to Italy working primarily on immigration and urbanization issues.

In 2009 she gained a special mention at the Fotoleggendo festival for her project on the living conditions of immigrants in Italy “Bed dreams”; the same year she was invited, together with other photographers by the L.A.F. foundation to the Czech Republic to report on the state of democracy of the country on its 20th anniversary. In 2010 and 2011 she was a finalist of the Amilcare Ponchielli award. In 2011 she has started a year long photo investigation on Egypt and its post-revolution stages.

Her work has appeared in numerous printed and online publications such as: L’espresso, Internazionale, Io Donna, Gioia, Marie Claire, Foto8, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Die Zeit, Photo Raw, among others.

Her editorial work is distributed worldwide by Contrasto agency.