From Milton Academy
to Norman Rockwell portraits
Herzog photographs capture
By Dorothy Malcolm
to see larger image
Article first appeared in “The
Townsman,” circa 1987-89, Associated Media, Boston
and Milton, MA
Although it has been eight years since the artist
Normal Rockwell died, his legacy continues in the memories
of Milton resident, Bradford Herzog. Herzog worked with Rockwell
producing portraits of famous people. He would photograph
the subjects and Rockwell would draw or paint them.
Their method of portraiture is common today
because most people don’t have the time to sit for an
artist. In pre-camera days, sketches were made of the subject;
today photographs are taken.
To capture the inner personality of a person, the photographer
and artist both need the ability to see beyond the surface
of the subject’s face. In this respect, the Herzog-Rockwell
partnership excelled. Such a partnership created telling portraits
of personalities ranging from presidential candidates to the
first NASA astronauts.
Herzog’s associations with photography and Normal
Rockwell reach back, in a series of events, to his teaching
days at Milton Academy [five miles south of Boston]. After
serving in the Army during World War II, Herzog returned home
and completed his education at Harvard, graduating in the
Class of 1950. He taught math at Milton Academy and lived
in the boys’ dormitory. The antics and pranks that occurred
with the boys led Herzog to invest in a camera.
“No one would believe what goes on in a boys’
dorm, so I figured I’d better get a camera,” he
Herzog submitted his photos of the boys to the Milton Academy
Alumni Bulletin. When these were well received and the boys’
frolics recorded for posterity, Herzog continued to shoot
various events at the academy, humorous moments among the
boys, their freckled and mischievous faces made indelible
and frozen in time through Herzog’s lens.
It was during this time at Milton Academy that a major event
in his life occurred. “In 1959, the woman who was the
head of the Girls’ English Department at Milton Academy,
Mary (Molly) Punderson retired to her home in Stockbridge,
Mass. She had hired an English girl, Katherine Bennett as
head of the English department and that was pivotal,”
Ultimately, he married Katherine Bennett. Meanwhile in Stockbridge,
retired schoolteacher Molly Punderson had married the artist
As photography consumed more and more of Herzog’s time,
the teacher chose to leave his position at Milton Academy
and proceeded to take pictures of youngsters on a freelance
basis for school yearbooks, bulletins and catalogs.
“I perceived a market that I could serve which was
schools and colleges. You have got to have some sort of niche
in freelance photography. You’ve got to have a ‘thing’
with which you can identify,” he said.
Working with Norman Rockwell
After establishing himself and succeeding in freelance work
for schools, Herzog’s career unexpectedly shifted—he
met Norman Rockwell.
“Rockwell came into my life because we were out in
Stockbridge. We met him and were visiting when suddenly he
got a call saying that they were going to nominate Barry Goldwater
as a presidential candidate in 1964. They told Norman, ‘Get
out there and run a portrait of him!’ Norman, under
these circumstances, worked with a photographer because he
often only had 10 to 15 minutes with his subject. His own
photographer was in India at the time. So I found myself nominated,
“ Herzog recalled.
Herzog admitted to being a bit frightened by the prospect
of dropping everything with only a few hours’ notice
and dashing off to, not only photograph the Arizona senator,
but to do it for a Rockwell portrait.
“But Norman was wonderful, “ said Herzog. “Norman
would jolly them up and I would take the picture. He was a
very, very funny man. He could charm the birds off the trees.
Everyone was excited under these circumstances. We were as
excited to meet Goldwater as he was to meet Norman.”
Some of the Herzog-Rockwell collaborations included Robert
F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Alger Hiss, Dr.
John Rock (inventor of the birth control pill), Golda Meir,
David Rockerfeller and, of course, Norman Rockwell.
“I like a face that has some sort of character to it.
In 1968 alone, we did eight or nine people, all of whom wanted
to be president,” Herzog laughed.
“Norman was a great influence
in my life…Most people perceived him to be a
grandfatherly figure, which he was, but he was also an extremely
— Bradford Herzog
One of his best memories of his joint projects with Rockwell
was the opportunity of meeting and working with astronaut
John Glenn. “He was the funniest,” Herzog recalled.
Rockwell and Herzog were in Florida, on commission from LOOK
Magazine to do a portrait of John Glenn. They had a productive
and humorous sitting with him. After dinner, at dusk, all
three men decided to go for a ride in the astronaut’s
speedboat. Glenn was familiar with the waterways but for Herzog
and Rockwell, everything rested on trusting the esteemed astronaut’s
sense of direction.
“It was at night and in the dark. We couldn’t
see anything and we were going so fast. But I thought, ‘It’ll
be all right with Astronaut John Glenn at the helm.’
And Norman said the same thing, because we were both frightened!”
Herzog’s personal style
Herzog’s style of photojournalism and portraiture
is straight and direct. Like Rockwell, his love of children
and animals is often the main theme of his pictures. Recently,
he was commissioned by Boston Children’s Hospital to
put together a book geared for children entering the hospital.
It contains shots of children in the hospital, interacting
with doctors, nurses and other children.
Domestic and farm animals are softly dealt with in Herzog’s
photography as well. On trips to Great Britain with his English
wife, Katherine and two daughters, Herzog records gentle animals
and rugged inhabitants, especially in the wild Welsh countryside.
From his days at Milton Academy to the present [circa 1987]
Herzog has always relied on a Leica Camera. His two Leicas,
a single lens reflex and a rangefinder, with a variety of
lenses, are the instruments of his craft.
He said that fledgling photographers could use any type
of camera to start off and suggested, “Start with your
family and just the world around you…[and that] a good
photograph shows emotional content. It should teach the viewer
something about the subject that he didn’t know before.”
With time, experience and a better camera, any photographer
should be able to see an object in a new and more finely tuned
light, according to Herzog.
“What I am trying to do in my own photography is to
catch the essence of whatever the subject happens to be; whether
it’s a person or place, so that the viewer comes away
with, most times, a positive feeling as well as an emotional
reaction to the subject,” he said.
Herzog most admires the work of photographer Cartier Bresson
because he believes that Bresson is always consistent. He
also enjoys the sweeping vistas of Ansel Adams’ works
and considers the late Sir Cecil Beaton a great portraitist.
However, it is Norman Rockwell, whose artistic vision and
response to the world around him, carries the most weight
“Norman was a great influence in my life,” said
Herzog. “His public image really didn’t do him
justice compared with his private image. Most people perceived
him to be a grandfatherly figure, which he was, but he was
also an extremely sophisticated man; well-read, knew a lot
about art and art history, though he had very little formal
training in art. And yet, he was always pleased and very surprised
when people paid him attention. Oh yes, and he was an extremely
Herzog continues to accept assignments and commissions from
schools, hospitals and corporations. He still photographs
people and places, especially in Great Britain. Some of his
photojournalistic pieces were on exhibit and for sale at the
Families for Children artists’ sale held recently in
In the future, Herzog has plans to put together a book of
his works. It would be a gallery of his collaborated portraits
done with Norman Rockwell for LOOK Magazine as well as a collection
of his photojournalism.
Herzog considers himself a fortunate man. “I have been
able to have two careers in my lifetime, both of which I have
enjoyed very much. I left teaching with the most positive
feeling and I still miss my association with all the kids,
which is one of the great joys of teaching,”
Yet Bradford Herzog continues to teach through his photographs,
allowing us to look deeply into the faces of the famous, the
poor, the humble, the powerful, and mostly, into the faces
of our children.