It’s been awhile since I managed to write about another of my photographic influences (like… 5 months). As I say in almost every blog post: school is crazy! Life is crazy!
Just to recap: I started these blog posts because all photographers have their influences. For me, it’s important to talk about and share those people throughout history who have inspired me. My first post about Vivian Maier explains my feelings in further detail!
Who is Fred Herzog?
Fred Herzog was born in 1930 in Germany, but had to be evacuated as a child during WWII. His parents died during the war and he found work on ships until he emigrated to Canada in 1952. He moved first to Toronto, then Montreal, and finally Vancouver. He primarily took photographs of Vancouver, BC; this might be why I feel such a strong pull and connection with his photographs, since I lived in Vancouver for 6 years! He is a street photographer and I love his ability to capture remnants of Vancouver that are no longer around, particularly the infamous neon light signs on Granville Street.
Fred Herzog’s street photography focuses on working class people and their environment, primarily the city. He worked with slide film, in color, which somewhat limited him from exhibiting since most photographers were shooting in black and white. He hasn’t been recognized really until the 2000s, despite his prolific work since the 50s. Unlike Vivian Maier, who I talked about last time, he did not include himself in his photographs or take many self photographs.
His photos do not need people in them; he also takes photographs of buildings and streets, the echoes of humans and their movements in all of his photos.
A lot of his photographs are portrait, or vertically shot. I find this absolutely fascinating. It helps in numerous occasions: to define the height of the buildings and make the photographs feel like you’re walking down the street; to get most of the body of a person when he shoots; and captures most of posters, windows, etc. Going through his photographs you’ll definitely notice an affinity for vertical photographs. Just a little tidbit!
Why Herzog is a Favourite
I find that Herzog is an astute photographer, able to capture and see humanity no matter where he is or what he photographs. These shadows, these traces, these small glimpses, are what draws me in to Herzog’s photography. He also takes many photographs in Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is my favourite part of the city!
I love when he photographs people but just as much I enjoy his photographs of light, shadow, and color. The way he uses architecture to create photographs is something that I am fairly certain I’ve taken and run with in much of my street photography. There is nothing I love more than a good staircase or doorway that tells the story of a neighborhood or building. Herzog’s photography makes me see and feel just how important location is to a photograph. His work also makes me yearn for an older Vancouver I never knew, but feel like I do at the same time… somehow?
The colors are so rich (Kodachrome!) and I love how even when he takes photos of empty street corners it feels like someone has just turned the corner, their arm or leg disappearing just out of frame. Herzog has a natural ability to capture the bones of a city, the essence of a time. Going through his photographs is like going back through time. I can’t get enough of them! I even have some of them hanging up on my wall and they act as daily inspiration.
Who are some of your favourite photographers? Who do you find inspiration from to take photographs or to appreciate a good view? Let me know in the comments!
All photographs taken from the Equinox Gallery website.
More resources on Fred Herzog
–Fred Herzog: Modern Color