British Columbia

Renowned Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog dies at 88

Renowned photographer Fred Herzog died in Vancouver Monday at the age of 88. 

Herzog was known for his vibrant colour photographs of the city over the decades

Herzog had been taking photographs of city life in Vancouver for decades using Kodachrome slide film. (Fred Herzog, Curtains, 1972, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of Equinox Gallery. )

Renowned Vancouver photographer Fred Herzog died Monday at the age of 88. 

He was best known for his colourful photographs, which captured Vancouver street scenes and changing times in the 1950s and '60s when almost all other art photography was in black and white.

Author and art critic Michael Turner wrote the foreword for a collection of Herzog's photographs in 2007. 

"Fred Herzog, for those who pay attention to the city, has always been around in different ways," Turner said. 

Herzog captured Vancouver in a way no one else has been able to, Turner said, capturing the city's history and the industries it was built on.

"Fred was someone who wandered the streets taking pictures of people of that [era] and living in that," he said. 

Jackpot by Fred Herzog (National Gallery of Canada)

Herzog had been taking photographs of city life in Vancouver for decades using Kodachrome slide film.

It wasn't until he was in his 70s that printing technology had caught up to a standard where Herzog could recreate the richness of his Kodachrome colour slides in print form.

Herzog had his first solo art exhibit in 2007 at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the dated photos were a revelation to art lovers who had never heard of him before.

Equinox Gallery represented Herzog for years and confirmed his death Tuesday. 

"He would take these walks through the city where he thought there would be an interest of people and specifically architecture and signage that was so prolific and interesting in Vancouver," said Andy Sylvester, owner of Equinox Gallery.

Fred Herzog captured the people and places of Vancouver over the decades. (Fred Herzog, Man with Bandage, 1968, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of Equinox Gallery. )


Herzog is recognized mostly for his photographs but is also remembered for stirring wide-spread controversy after an interview with Globe and Mail arts reporter Marsha Lederman in 2012, when he referred to "the so-called Holocaust."

Lederman, the child of Holocaust survivors, was shocked to hear such a statement from a Canadian so renowned for his work, she later wrote in an article. 

Herzog, upon learning of Lederman's family history, retracted what he said. 

CBC's Gloria Macarenko, host of On The Coast, asked Sylvester about those comments.

"If you look at his photographs, what you see is a relationship to humanity that is undeniable," said Sylvester. 

"So his relationship to other human beings, his relationship to his history and to his relationship to his fellow citizens is simply unblemished for me. Whether he had an uncomfortable moment is what it is." 

Fred Herzog would wander the streets, capturing scenes of the gritty city on Kodachrome slide film. (Fred Herzog, Crossing Powell, 1984, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of Equinox Gallery. )

Sylvester said those comments haven't tarnished the photographer's artistic legacy, as far as he is concerned. 

"I know him and I know his work and his work continues to be admired by collectors, by museums and by all sorts of people around the world," he said.

Herzog was born in Germany in 1933 and came to Vancouver in 1953.

He is survived by his daughter Ariane and son Tyson and was predeceased by his wife Christel, who passed away in 2013.

With files from On The Coast