The day I photographed him, Fred Herzog told me that he would turn eighty in a month. That was in the spring of 2009.
I had never met him until then, but I had seen his exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the spring of 2007. It was probably one of the most well attended exhibitions that the Vancouver Art Gallery had ever mounted. It was his first major exhibition, and he was already in his seventies.
His photographs are admired by professional photographers for technical quality, compositional strength and a strong vision, but people in general also appreciated them for the subject matter. The photographs in the VAG exhibition were taken in the 1960s on the streets of Vancouver. I witnessed strangers talking to each other about the places where the photographs had been taken while going through the exhibition in the gallery. It was obvious that these people were enjoying what they saw.
He talked continuously about his work while I photographed him and was very animated. That he had had a passion and devotion for photography all his life was evident. The best word to describe him, I thought, was "fierce." Indeed, he had fierce eyes.
Even today, he regularly goes out to photograph the streets of Vancouver. When I asked him about the copyrights of people in his photographs, he said that he was not planning to show these photographs for another 30 years, when these people would no longer be recognizable. I remember what my late husband Toni Onley used to say "Life is short, but art is long."
The photograph was taken March 2009 in my studio in Vancouver.
Fred Herzog is a Vancouver based photographer.
Yukiko Onley is a Vancouver based photographer specializing in photographing people. Her service is available upon request.