Herbert Lang was born in Germany. His interest in taxidermy led to a job at the natural history museum at the University of Zurich. At the age of 24, he emigrated to the United States and began working at the American Museum of Natural History. He made his first field expedition to Kenya in 1906. Lang was later put in charge of the Museum's Congo expeditions. In 1919, he became the Assistant Curator in the Museum's Department of Mammalogy. Lang was an avid photographer whose many black and white prints and negatives of Africa including extensive surveys of tribal life are part of AMNH photographic collections.