His innovative techniques and experiments with light created a more sophisticated still image. Daniels was born in Churchover, Warwickshire on 26 July 1892. He was educated at Bablake School in Coventry. In 1925 he started his career as a freelance photographer and took stills of dancer and choreographer Margaret Morris that capture the grace and elegance of the human form. His camera studies were also published in Vogue 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. This was because the studios controlled the stars and a set photographer was all that was required. However, with the support of the independent producers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger he 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 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, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger 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. In 1949 he worked on Gone to Earth and The Elusive Pimpernel and sitters included Jennifer Jones and David Niven respectfully. In 1955 Powell and Pressburger were again photographed by Daniels to promote Battle of the River Plate. His association with Powell and Pressburger lasted 14 years, covering one of the most creative periods in British Cinema. Although Daniels continued working at his art deco villa 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 Fred Daniels Estate.
- Powell, Michael (1986). Michael Powell: A Life in Movies. Heinemann.
- Daniels, 2012.
- Daniels, Fred (19??). Margaret Morris Dancing. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.