Fred Lyon is a time traveler with a camera and tales to tell. At 95-years-old, this former LIFE magazine photographer and fourth generation San Franciscan has an eye for the city and stories to match. We showed photos from Fred’s books San Francisco, Portrait of a City: 1940-1960 and San Francisco Noir, and images spanning his diverse career. In conversation, he discussed his art, work, and life; recollections of old friends like Herb Caen and Trader Vic Bergeron; and more. He shared his unique perspective after nearly a century in San Francisco.
Fred Lyon’s career began in the early 01940’s and has spanned news, architecture, advertising, wine and food photography. In the golden years of magazine publishing his picture credits were everywhere from LIFE to VOGUE and beyond. These days find him combing his picture files for galleries, publishers and print collectors. He has been called San Francisco’s Brassaï. He’s also been compared to Cartier Bresson, Atget and Andre Kertez, but all with a San Francisco twist. That’s fine with this lifelong native who happily admits his debt to those icons.
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