Artist and photographer Fred Daniels was born George Frederick William Daniels (Churchover, Warwickshire), 1892 – 1959. Daniels was a pioneer of still photography in the film industry and recognised by the BFI.
His innovative techniques and experiments with light created a more sophisticated still photograph image. Daniels was born in Churchover, Warwickshire on 26 July 1892. Fred was educated at Bablake School in Coventry. In 1925 he started his career as a freelance photographer in the South of France and photographed dancer and choreographer Margaret Morris. The Antibes summer schools attracted artists from the performing arts, and for Daniels it was an opportunity to capture the grace and elegance of the human form. His camera studies were also published in The Sketch and Tatler magazines.
Daniels entered the film industry in 1929 when he took stills of Anna May Wong at Elstree Studios to promote Piccadilly. The film was a success, and in the same year Daniels was hired for the Titanic disaster film Atlantic starring John Longden and Madeline Carroll. In 1932 he photographed Brigitte Helm during the filming of The Blue Danube directed by Herbert Wilcox. Daniels was admired by producer H.B. Warner for his stills and was offered a contract in Hollywood. During the 1930s his career developed with the British and Dominions Film Company, and he became their star photographer, taking portraits of actors such as Anna Neagle.
In 1939 Daniels set up his own portrait studio in Coventry Street as a specialist portrait photographer. The film industry tended to be integrated and outside specialists were discouraged. The studios achieved control by relying on staff stills photographers under contract to the studio and encouraged membership of the film union ACTT to avoid freelance photographers to manouvre into the industry. However, with the support of the Independent Producers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger Daniels managed to progress on his own terms. From his small third floor studio next to the London Trocadero he took portraits of Leslie Howard and Laurence Olivier to promote the film 49th Parallel. Daniels also took studio portraits of Pamela Brown and Googie Withers for One of Our Aircraft is Missing, Roger Livesey during Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Sheila Sim and Eric Portman during A Canterbury Tale, and Wendy Hiller during I Know Where I'm Going! In 1945 Kim Hunter, and David Niven were sitters during the filming of A Matter of Life and Death In 1946 Sabu and Deborah Kerr were photographed during the filming of Black Narcissus at Pinewood Studios. In 1949 he worked on Gone to Earth and sitters included Jennifer Jones and David Farrar respectfully. In 1955 Powell and Pressburger hired Daniels to promote Battle of the River Plate. His association with Powell and Pressburger was the most creative period of his career. He generally filmed his sitters from a right profile, which is instantly recognisable and rarely deviated to a full frontal position. Although Daniels continued working at his studio and from his home near Elstree on commissions from James Mason and Glynis Johns, his health deteriorated and he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1959. A permanent collection of his work is held by the National Portrait Gallery in London, The Fergusson Gallery in Perth and by the BFI National Archive.