Study the Masters: Fred Herzog

In Influences, Study the Masters by David6 Comments


Over the last two weeks I introduced you to Saul Leiter and Ernst Haas, two of the great colour pioneers, and this week I want you to meet another – Fred Herzog (1930 – present). You can see his stuff quickly here in a Google Image search, but there’s no substitute for having it on paper and his book –  Fred Herzong: Photographs (Amazon link) – is one of my favourite photography books.

Herzog is a home town hero for me. He was a medical photographer in Vancouver for most of his career, but wandered the neighbourhoods with his camera photographing the colour and the working class, mostly with Kodachrome, when he wasn’t working. It’s unfair to compare them, but you’ll see similarities between Haas, Leiter, and Herzog in their use of colour and subject.

“Take street pictures because it hones your instincts for speed and for quick composition. But above all what you bring in your mind to the scene is what makes your picture. If you don’t read, if you don’t have discussions with enlightened friends, you do not get there. There is a saying about seeing: Only a few people can see but most people don’t even look. And that says a lot to me. You can only see if you have something in your mind to bring to the picture. The camera is just the least important adjunct to your ideas. Your observations are important because they’re you. The camera is just a gadget you can carry on in your hand or around your neck or on a tripod.”



  1. Hey David,

    Great series! Picked up the Leitner “Early Color” book, just fantastic. Looks like there could be yet another book on the coffee table next to yours! Might have to get another coffee table!

    Inspirational stuff!



  2. David,

    I am thoroughly enjoying this “Study the Masters” series. Very interesting artists. Studying these photographer’s work is inspiring and educational. Thanks for sharing your favorite artists and your continued insights to the art of photography. I have been a loyal follower since I picked the book, Vision Mongers, off the shelf at the bookstore several years ago. Keep up the awesome work!!

  3. Hi David,

    I just saw some Herzog prints at Paris Photo LA a few days ago. Amazing work! Do you have a gallery rep yet? Ever think about it? Would love to hear your thoughts on that.

    Great posts BTW…. inspiring.


    1. Hi Jeff – No, no gallery rep yet. Been on my mind a lot lately but still think I need to wait a couple years. No hurry. To be honest it’s a world I’ve not yet decided whether I want to be involved with yet…

  4. I used to go to Fred’s slide shows when I was in university. There’s a good documentary on the Knowledge Network that’s worth watching.

    I was very disappointed how his show was hung last year at the Glenbow here in Calgary. Loved the images chosen but the way they were displayed did not do Fred any justice.

    1. Author

      Thanks for the comment, John, And for your review of Sontag’s book. I followed the link back to your blog and was delighted to read that I’m not the only reasonably intelligent person to be so ambivalent about “On Photography.” Your icebreaker analogy is spot-on with that book. I think if Sontag – for whom I have great respect – were at a party with me, I’d still be on the other side of the room having a conversation with someone I understood with much less effort. 🙂

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