Henk Friezer

Henk Friezer interviewed by Los Angeles as Subject Resident Archivist Joanna Chen Cham, in the Bill Henry Room at Occidental College, 2016

Henk Friezer interviewed by Los Angeles as Subject Resident Archivist Joanna Chen Cham, in the Bill Henry Room at Occidental College, 2016

Henk Friezer was born on June 13, 1944, to parents Joe (then known as Juda) and Goldina (nee Valk) Friezer in a Catholic hospital in Laaren, Holland under the fake name, Jonny Frieling, because of his parents' involvement in the Dutch resistance and their fear in being found and linked to their efforts. For the first year of his life, Friezer lived with his parents and other members of the Dutch resistance under a German army dog kennel owned by a woman named Els Plaaten, who allowed them to live under the kennel. After the war, in Holland, Jonny Frieling's parents changed his name to Henk Herman Hennie John Friezer.
 
Friezer moved with his family to the United States in 1955 when his father, Joe Friezer, decided to move his family to America. The family arrived first in New York and then shortly moved to Los Angeles. Friezer grew up in Eagle Rock from elementary school to high school. He first began to take an interest in photography when, as a sports reporter for the high school newspaper, "The Eagles Scream," Friezer was asked to borrow a camera from his father and photograph the track meet because the original photographer could not attend the event. At the track meet, Friezer took what ended up being an award-winning photograph of two runners in mid-air, diving into the tape. The photograph won the Kodak National High School Competition. The following year, he won again with a gymnastics photograph. Seeing the interest his son was taking in photography at age of sixteen, Joe Friezer built Henk Friezer a separate darkroom from his own for his son to work out of.
 
After graduating high school in 1962, Henk Friezer left for Europe for a photography apprenticeship that his father arranged. In that year he trained first with one photographer and then another, both friends of his father, and learned darkroom techniques during his time in Delft, Holland. In the same year, Friezer met the woman who would later become his wife, Wilhelmina, at a party. Eventually, after recieving a draft notice both from Holland and then from the United States after he moved back, Friezer decided to sign up for the United States Army in order to be able to choose to be based in Europe, which was closer to his then-girlfriend Wilhelmina. Friezer trained in Fort Ord in Monterey for six months and in Fort Gordon, Georgia for three months for communications training before being stationed in Germany for two years, during which he married Wilhelmina in Holland in 1965. Although there were initially no photographers in his unit, Friezer eventually became the army photographer for his unit due to his father's connections and requests. After Germany, Friezer was reassigned to Fort Sill in Oklahoma for the last six months of his time in the Signal Corps; he was discharged afterwards.
 
Friezer returned to Eagle Rock after his stint as an army photographer and after working briefly for a photographer in South Pasadena, Friezer joined his father, Joe, as a freelance photographer and part of "Friezer Photography." In the same year, in 1968, Friezer changed his name to Henk John Friezer when he became a naturalized United States citizen. Based in Eagle Rock, Friezer grew his freelance photography career by establishing his own clientele, which included the Los Angeles Public Library, Miller Brewing, United Way and Coca Cola, as well as publications such as the San Marino Tribune, Northeast Newspapers, Eastern Group Publications and South Pasadena Review. In the 1980s, Friezer's clients also included a large number of Hispanic organizations and firms, such as the Imagen Foundation and Plaza de la Raza. His photographs have won awards from the California Press Photographers Association, the Great Los Angeles Press Club, the Forest Lawn Photo Contest, and the Magic Mountain Photo Contest. Although semi-retired, Friezer continues to photograph in his spare time. The Joe and Henk Friezer Negatives collection was donated to Occidental College, Special Collections & College Archives, by Henk Friezer.