Born in Germany, Fred Herzog came to Vancouver in 1953. Since that time, he has produced a substantial body of photographs, taking urban life in Vancouver -second-hand shops, vacant lots, neon signage and the crowds of people who have populated the city's streets over the past fifty years-as his primary subject. Herzog has self-consciously drawn upon documentary traditions in photography while incorporating something of an outsider's idiosyncratic sensitivity to a new environment into his work. Within his images, bodily gesture, the detritus of consumer culture and the architecture of the street take on a heightened resonance, as the impact of modernity becomes visible in the everyday life of the city.
Much of Herzog's work was produced on Kodachrome, a colour slide film that was difficult to work with in a spontaneous fashion. Herzog's use of colour was unusual in the 1950s and 60s, a time when art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white imagery. In this respect, his photographs can be seen as a pre-figuration of the "New Colour" of photographers such as Stephen Shore and William Eggleston, which received widespread acclaim in the 1970s, and the work of contemporary Vancouver photographers such as Roy Arden, Arni Haraldsson, Karin Bubas and Christos Dikeakos.