"I never went to school to learn photography--not a single day," he says.

"I've taken photographs in colour for fifty-five years, and I'm still doing it with considerable motivation." -- Fred Herzog

With more than 80,000 images of Vancouver taken during the past half-century, Fred Herzog is the city's premier street photographer, having focussed on store fronts, cafes, barber shops, pedestrians, cars, signs since his emigration from Germany in 1952.

"It was my goal from the start to show city vitality," he says. His mostly colour images suggest Vancouver was a more vibrant and unself-conscious city in the Fifties and Sixties when it was bustling burg in which the working class could still afford to live.

Replete with vacant lots, abandoned cars and bygone signage, his images invite the adjective authentic, but his own website puts it best. "The images are not about important people, events or edifices, but about the vitality of the city, its ambience, and the daily activities of the people. Also their dress, automobiles and recreation, and the pride with which they participate and enjoy human contact.";

Herzog came to Vancouver in 1953 and worked on ships for three years before making his living primarily as a medical photographer. "My present style of street photography was formed in spring 1957 with a bang," he says, "practically complete from day one." He has subsequently credited Norman Levine's starkly realistic memoir/travelogue Canada Made Me (London: Putnam, 1958) for showing him a literary view of the city (and Canada) that mirrored his own.

Herzog sold his first print in 1970. Since then he has prodigiously thrived in relative obscurity before finally hitting it big. Now officially represented by the Equinox Gallery, Herzog catapulted into the public eye in 2007 with a major January-to-May exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery and an accompanying coffee table book, Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs (D&M $45), with textual contributions from Grant Arnold and Michael Turner. It was shortlisted for the BC Booksellers Choice Award and the City of Vancouver Book Prize.

Douglas Coupland's appreciative 2011 essay on Herzog's work, "Somebody Spoke and I Fell Into a Dream,"; validates Herzog's documentation of Vancouver's as a grimey but vibrant backwater in which industry thrived and pollution was taken for granted.

Bogner's Grocery, a 1960 photograph by Fred Herzog, was among works by seven master Canadian photographers featured in a stamp series issued by Canada Post in 2014.

Fred Herzog: Modern Color was chosen as one of the top ten photo books of 2016 by the New York Times. [See review below] In 2017, his work was the subject of an exhibit at the Audain Gallery in Whistler.


Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs (D&M 2007) $45, with textual contributions from Grant Arnold and Michael Turner.

Fred Herzog: Modern Color (Berlin: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2016). Texts by David Campany, Hans-Michael Koetzle, Jeff Wall ? 38.00 / 9783775741811

Deadhead (Vancouver: Figure 1: 2016) by Kimberly Jean Phillips, Barbara Cole, Jen Weih, Cedric Bomford, Nathan Bomford, Jim Bomford

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Fred Herzog: Photographs by Fred Herzog

[Robert Keziere author photo]

[Alan Twigg BCBW 2017] "Photography"