Fred Herzog’s Early Color Street Photographs of Vancouver From the 1950s and 1960s

Fred Herzog (September 21, 1930 – September 9, 2019) devoted his artistic life to walking the streets of Vancouver as well as almost 40 countries with his Leica, photographing – mostly with colour slide film – his observations of the street life with all its complexities. Herzog ultimately became celebrated internationally for his pioneering street photography, his understanding of the medium combined with, as he put it, “how you see and how you think” created the right moment to take a picture.

Fred Herzog arrived in Vancouver in 1953. The young German immigrant was fascinated by all aspects of Canadian life, and set out to document it with his camera. He worked as a medical photographer by day, and on evenings and weekends he took his camera to the streets, documenting daily life.

A pioneer of color photography, Herzog largely worked with Kodachrome, a slide film that was tricky to use in a spontaneous fashion, and required expensive developing in specialist labs. He was never able to make satisfactory prints from his slides, but digital inkjets have enabled him to print and exhibit early work.

Family on Lawn, 1959
Elysium Cleaners, 1958
Hastings and Columbia Street, 1958
Paris Cafe, 1959
Squatter, Railroad Tracks, 1961
Boys on Shed, 1962
Howe and Nelson, 1960
Newspaper Readers, 1961
Second Hand Shop, Cordova, 1961
New World Confectionery, 1965
Rooming House, 1975

Photos: Fred Herzog

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