Past | Present

I will be posting short vignettes from my life as a photographer.

I will share a camera’s eye view of some very interesting cultural personalities.

Arata Isozaki: Pritzker Prize recipient

Izosaki at the Guggenheim Museum- New York, NY

Izosaki at the Guggenheim Museum- New York, NY

Hold on to your space suits!

Have you ever felt the full force of tiny asteroids the size of diamonds flying with full force pelting your face into full shock...somewhere between a stoned death and/or a cryogenic freeze?

In 2003 After flying 15 hours from New York to Tokyo I was all jacked up to have an amazing photography experience shooting some of the most exciting voices in the architectural world?

Aside: scary fun thought, almost all of them have been awarded the Pritzker Prize!

Ok back to my nightmare! I have arrived in Japan to photograph Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito, SANAA, (Kazuyo Sejima,and Ryue Nishizawa) Shigeru Ban and Arata Isozaki. I was in Tokyo to shoot for my book, “Portraits of the New Architecture”.

What a trip I imagined!!!!!!!!! Portraits of these great faces...and an imaginary escape ala Ian Fleming’s “Thrilling Cities” through the brightest and darkest spots of Tokyo...to do what? To find the aforementioned architects best examples of architectural design in Tokyo. Yes I could have traveled the earth claiming their most famous most known works...but making this about one trip one city one moment is truly better for me than following the myth of Ando or Brancusi; walking the land across nations to learn about Architecture or Sculpture.

Moca - Los Angeles, CA.

Moca - Los Angeles, CA.

I wanted immersion.

A funny thing happens to me when I travel for work...there is an electric gene that goes off and flips me a visual thought about photography...nothing is off limits; lying on my back...camera dangling out of taxis, trains, planes and beyond to experience a new perspective.

When you encounter cities large and small...there is always metaphorically a “backroom“.

For those who travel and those who don’t, there is a the notion that we need to walk the streets endlessly to discover ergo to know how a city breathes....

So, my city my feet...Tokyo with an agenda!

I arrive at my hotel...a non distinctive place to rest my head...

Before I can breathe a note of joy...I call my first subject...SANAA.

“Sorry they are not available”. Hold on, what the &%$#@...effing are you talking about? I flew here just for them( a mini lie) and their schedule has suddenly changed?

Ok so now I hang up...and dial one through six.

Looking back it is like being in a cloud of some confused drug...really everyone of the architects all changed their schedules at the same time?????.

So I played Sun Tzu in my mind.

I had a plan...I wasn’t going to allow for a mental breakdown to diffuse the larger plan...and ...

Jet lag gripped me ...if I change time zones by an hour my body my mind becomes dis- functional by minutes, hours and years...

So after a delightful tasty cornucopia of a sushi,sashimi tasty delight...I went to sleep...with a new attitude.

I awoke to an everything mattered mantra...every waking moment was a “visual feast”...my wife’s line!

I walked, rode the train, walked and rode the train some more

At the end of the first day, ...I collected my inner Caesar...”Veni,Vidi,Vici...

I called each of my portrait moments.

“Hey I am here for just you...give me 10 minutes...in and out of your lives...and in my book!

...soulful responses poured out ...apologies through the gazoo!

Everyone gave me time that is emblematic of Japanese courtesy.

But why I am writing this blog, is because of the embracing Arata Isozaki.

My last day, my last session...made me think about something larger than my mere images...

A photographer’s life is defined by the experience at hand.

I arrived at “Iso’s studio.

Arriving in the Roppongi District of Tokyo was pretty electric...but a bit like Times Square with a phallic Mori Tower flailing in the center

But Iso’s studio is calm and discreet...

Warmly greeted, we begin our sparring...as almost all portrait sessions have a bit of a dance in them...I could write/speak for hours about the dance of a photographer’s session...

We spoke about many things...everything from the perception of light by a Japanese Architect and how that differs from a Western Architect...which led us to playfully critiquing famous architects in general...some great zingers but also so many shares about architects revered.

A short while in...he gets a call ...he must speak to a client...

Palau Sant Jordi- Barcelona, Spain

Palau Sant Jordi- Barcelona, Spain

He apologizes...but then hands me a monograph on Herbert Bayer. it is a terrific edition...that fortunately or not...I had to read for over an hour. To keep me occupied while I was reading Iso also shared a delicacy from where he was raised.It was some awful barely edible sweet potato...

But I survived and he returned and our dance card wasn’t up...

The whole experience lasted about 4 hours...much longer than usual and of course more than the 10 minutes.

But what separates the moment from the other 5000 portraits...is that Isozaki generously invited me to dinner at a British private club.

We with 2 of his assistants arrived at the club. He pulled me aside and told me that traveling alone can be trying and lonely...so he wanted to share a couple of things.

First: he wanted me to experience an exhibition of Corbusier paintings, drawings and sculpture. It was like a mini retrospective...we collected a glass of wine and I listened to,him share his thoughts on Corbusier...and the art itself...if you like or even appreciate architecture...you can bet that the time walking through the gallery was simply stunning and amazingly stimulating. The fact that it was a sharing experience...is such a rare treat...well needless to say it was great...

Then he topped this generosity off when we sat down to dinner...we were on about the 20 something floor...he said “I didn’t want you to be homesick for New York...I wanted you to have a New York experience in Tokyo...in case you were homesick”.

Most of you might know that I am older than Methuselah...but it was truly a tender moment.

After a great meal ...and more conversation...we said our goodbyes...his assistants took me to some club...which was for anyone younger than methuselah...

After awaking the next day I thought that I have traveled half the world...but every once in awhile a true spirit makes one day out of a million a bit of heaven.

Isosaki’s Studio

Isosaki’s Studio

A blind man's love

I once told someone. That when I go to Paris , it is the only city where I am an alien where I feel that I belong there more than any other city in the world...I walk in to the city 

since 1983 and always scream " I am here".

i am born bred raised and every other boy coming of Age experience  As a beach person...suntanned and and drenched in the oceans wave and girls on the beach...but  for me that Is not live able...it is a scene out of a movie....a good one...but...

but Paris for an hour is where I believe I am meant to be. To experience everything that life offers...it is an  experience it is a visual palace...where I am as alive as  my photography will let me be....

so the unexpected is my reward...photographing the artist Jean Helion 

i arrive habitually late for my session with one of the last of a generation of surrealist artists

entering this world of artists it was sort of a goal to photograph as many people that sort of represented a style an idea a concept an agenda and intellectual property a game an adventure a movement to nowhere or a movement away form what what was..to something "is" ...I was after the living fathers of art history and everyone that followed them young and old...

Keith Haring was in his 20s, Basquiat was in his 20s and the world was talking about these prodigies and of course I was to photograph them as well...but history was my light force ...I want ed to capture the future past before  it was someone else's recorded moment ...i wanted this to be my legacy...capturing art history

Helion was this moment this opportunity 

winding the streets of Paris photographing...Cesar, Marcel Jean, Helion,  searching for Dubuffet Matta capturing Andre Masson was  in my mind what discovering art history should be

yes yes I could read and listen to their history but I wanted the moment where I walked into the studios of not just artists but art...I wanted to see the canvas...I wanted to be one to one`With what billionaires dealt with likes decks of cards and other collectors clammored to just have the art...to say they had the art...I wanted the art in  my camera...I wanted my story 

but sometimes my story...was what I expected... and then there were days where I saw the dekooning or Miro as my equal in age...I always looked forward to meeting these maestros as if we were all the same age...wow what a shake up it was sometimes when my hero was 90 or 100

so you can imagine that i was totally flummoxed but in Love  when Helion's daughter still 20 years` my senior said 

you know my father doesn't see  but just a little...let me walk you over to him...

there  he  was his nose almost touching the canvas...a little many in  a suit, tieless and a white shirt ...nipping and tucking art...

touching  the canvase with a bit of blue( I guess) wow a bit of blue and glasses as thick as a door

..stop 

i was so much in love with the moment... I was unaware of my camera  weighting  me down

at this moment as I write I am still the kid  that impressions matter more than realities...yes these are my realities...so but so clouded in dreams...because this is the dream I wanted and it is here...I only had one wish..to be one on one with my camera with whatever stood before me...if there was more, then that might mean my life was a bit better than I expected...

apple and the iPhone never quite realized that, because they tried to give the experience to everyone...but it is not quite real...because it is a world of course but not a dream...it isn't open for debate...when  you dream of the life the camera can see for you the mind's eye is so unique to the tool you are using...and here I am awash in colors life lived behind closed doors my experience my moment my capture...a life near the end  a single shard of light...a cane and life's end...before my camera

he took my hand after his daughter walked me up to him...and we strolled the studio through his guidance he was my eyes into his creations...you have to keep reminding yourself that I am a kid in my eyes...wide eyes and just living a moment....there is Paris, drinks and and more just outside the studio....

I think I ended up photographing hundreds of artists...witnessing  for me what it might be like to  stand in front of a blank canvas and decide what is the first moment, what is it I want to play with? play at what it is... I want to say

this is not a Julian Schnabel  'hey look at me" this is something from the earliest cave men...this is prehistoric and every century after,  making the most of who I am...this is my guess about the artist

Herbert Bayer once told me something like that...and I just loved the concept

 

 

Anyway

after our   coffee and  our chat...the question slaps me across the face again...'shall we make your photograph Mr Schulman...!

for me it was always the conversation...

i snapped an image another...thinking about the light his glasses his art...but in the end

a mere 6- 10 frames later...I was even for me taken aback by why I was there...I was there to form a moment

and it was the saddest 125th of a second in my life...I just sort of looked at life disappearing before my eyes in the guise of this this fantastic little man whose 80 some odd years I cherished adored and the man himself who made me realize why I was in this moment

i asked him to follow me onto his bed...I took him by his hand and walked him to the side of the bed facing the window with his cane by his side

I delivered the saddest moment,  death ...in my camera Jean Helion was disappearing into the light and beyond...I stood frozen with the thought that I would make some conjecture like that...

but it was the only moment that mattered...that life was over for him and that had to be my image...

my camera experienced death, the end of a life  of an artist at the end being transported into the light and disappearing for good...an artists life at the end

i went up to him...and stroked his shoulders and told him I was done...

he whisked a tear from his eyes maybe guessing what I was thinking

he whispered..." but that was so fast...I hope you got what you wanted..."

35 years later the shot was the experience I discovered

i will never forget photographing death

 

 

 

 

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Constructing a photograph

Portraits, Architecture, Design and...is always a Visual Journey.

The purpose of what I do is to illustrate the manner in which I marry “light”, “volume”, “space”, and “color” to create a narrative about not only what I see, but how I see.

Many people can travel across the country across countries and make photographs...but for me it is the experience that matters...it is the event that matters it is the game of how my aesthetics converse with the science and math of photography... and the moment when my camera engages my minds eye.

My days behind the camera, my days thinking about photographs are spent trying to create something that is an experiment, an experience.