In a post-war San Francisco, photographer Fred Lyon found that, everywhere he looked, he could capture the essence of the city through his camera lens. The wonderfully exhilarating culture during the 1940s and ’50s was one of energy and lively spirit, as residents and visitors enjoyed the many activities that were missing or limited during the times of war.
In his collection of black and white images, recently released as a book entitled San Francisco: Portrait of a City 1940-1960, Lyon depicts a city filled with magnificent bridges, beautiful architecture sitting at the peak of giant hilltops, and cable cars running along the streets, as well as north beach around fisherman’s wharf, an area of which he was particularly fond.
The magic of the city’s fog or glistening bay is presented as graphic elements of dizzying heights, strong contrasts, and beautifully mysterious night scenes covered in a fuzzy haze. "I utilize my camera for 'selective seeing,'” says Lyon. “Perhaps the most individual aspect of my work is my interest in the impressionism of nature and the varied aspects of natural light. To me, photography is a process of discovery rather than of contrivance." That specialized approach and his passion for San Francisco is certainly evident in this extensive collection of images.