For both those who are and aren't familiar with Shulman's oeuvre, this delightful updated edition of his stolidly titled Photographing Architecture and Interiorsmakes it completely clear why and how he forged that artistic and professional alliance with the masters of modernism. As a how-to book for both budding and experienced architectural photographers, it's still invaluable. Camera technology and changes in the profession itself might have dated some of the text here, but most of it focuses on principles and techniques that transcend matters of film- or camera-make, and addresses every possible aspect of the craft--from composition, angles, lenses, and lighting (for both exteriors and interiors, which Shulman always saw as contiguous) to shooting with both black-and-white and color film, darkroom manipulation, and special tips for residential, commercial, and landscape work. But, even if the book had no main text, the hundreds of shots of his own work (and their excellent "how I got that shot" captions) would speak and educate for themselves, and are what make this book such a classic for architectural shutterbugs and general lovers of modern architecture alike. It's simply a dramatically arranged and lighted panorama of the boldest design of the postwar era, with a particular emphasis on the glamorous residential projects of a brashly affluent Southern California, where Shulman did most of his work. The book abounds with outdoor and indoor shots of the sleekly linear homes of Soriano, Wright, Thornton Ladd, William Pereira, John Lautner, Cliff May, and many others; all of their drop-dead-cool rec rooms, swimming pools, pavilions and terraces, glass walls, and surrounding hillscapes captured with angles and lighting that compare to Orson Welles or Hitchcock in their drama and intrigue. There's also great representation of Shulman's commercial work here, too--to this day, no one has made such femmes fatales of corporate modernism as the Seagram Building, Lever House, and Pei's Mile-High Center in Denver look as sexy as Shulman did, and his shots of Charles Luckman's high-tech industrial shrines, like General Dynamics Astronautics in San Diego, are a sheer blast from an era that was besotted with the glamour of science, space, and the Bomb. There's a terrific interview with Shulman, up front, and the book concludes with his walk-through case study of the shoot for an entire Bel Air house.
But it's Shulman's decades-long interpretation of the work of his first client, Neutra, that attained a perfection on the level of such other collaborations of the era as Nelson Riddle's Capitol arrangements for Frank Sinatra or Hubert de Givenchy's couture for Audrey Hepburn. Fittingly, in the eloquent introduction that he wrote for this book, Neutra said of an artist of Shulman's rank, "With one gesture, he may evoke untold illusions ... [he] can and does speak to human souls." To wit, this timeless volume opens with those fateful first shots of the Kun House, its gleamingly white and shockingly stark facades staring out over the raw hills of Southern California. No matter that Shulman "snapped" them with his Eastman Vest-Pocket Camera; amid his vertiginous angles and bold chiaroscuro, one senses that something big is about to happen in American architecture. Of course, as we all know now, something did happen--and, as this update of an architectural classic makes clear, no one documented it as lucidly or stylishly as the richly talented Mr. Shulman. --Timothy Murphy
Publisher: Balcony Press
Hardcover : 180 pages
Dimensions: 9.3 x 12.2 x 0.7 inches