The photographic realm has just lost two giants with the deaths of Popular Photography’s Burt Keppler and, now, of Henry Froehlich, former head of medium-format mainstay Mamiya America. Though less visible than Burt to readers of photography magazines, Henry was just as influential in the photo industry, and in many of the same ways. Influence aside, he was a lovely, kindhearted man.
A refugee from Nazi Germany, Henry did much to promote Japanese cameras in the U.S. after World War II, distributing the Konica line. Eventually he merged that business with Berkey Photo, a key distributor that had previously absorbed the German photo importing business of Paul Klingenstein, a fellow refugee and future Mamiya partner. Henry went on to create a film-to-video conversion business with Jan Lederman, now head of the MAC Group, and the three men later founded the highly successful Mamiya America.
In his role at Mamiya, Henry was a hero and friend to some of our best photographers, including Annie Leibovitz and Douglas Kirkland. If they or other Mamiya RZ or RB users had any job-threatening trouble with their equipment, Henry would hop to it, getting stuff fixed in a flash and often loaning out replacement gear in the interim. It seemed beyond the call of corporate duty, but reflected Henry’s deep affection for photography and photographers. Yet he was a consummate businessman, famous for driving a hard bargain — with absolute pleasantness.
Check it out here.