Fred Herzog Bad Friedrichshall, Germany, 1930-2019


Fred Herzog was born in 1930 in Germany and emigrated to Vancouver, Canada shortly after World War II. He is known as a pioneer of color photography, using Kodachrome slide film before it was popularized in the 1970s by exhibitions from renowned color photographers such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore. His color photographs from the 1950s through 1980s of Vancouver depict a city before commercialization. He was employed as a medical photographer by day, and, on evenings and weekends, he took his camera to the streets, documenting daily life as he observed it. Focusing his camera on storefronts, neon signs, billboards, cafes, and crowds of people, he eloquently depicted the architecture of the street as a framework for human interaction, presenting a view of the city that is both critical and elegiac.


Though Fred Herzog has been making photographs for decades, his images of city life in Vancouver in the 1950s and 1960s have only recently been brought to a larger public. A major retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2007 was a revelation to those who had known his work only through slides, as well as to a generation of art lovers who had not heard of him at all.  Since he was never able to satisfactorily make prints from his slides, recent possibilities of digital inkjet printing enabled him to finally print and exhibit this important body of early color street photography.


Much of Herzog’s recognition for his work occurred later in life with a monograph and retrospectives at the Vancouver Art Gallery; Equinox Gallery, Vancouver; and C/O Berlin. His work was included in the important Eyes Wide Open! 100 Years of Leica Photography, at the Haus der Photographie in Hamburg, Germany. He was awarded the Audain Prize for lifetime achievement in the visual arts in 2001 and received an honorary doctorate from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada, in 2010.