The Architecture of Cities: New York II

WTC 2.

If there is darkness then there must be light

The light into darkness, the darkness into light is the nature of my photography.

The camera lens at first glance is my personal window into the cities’ corridors: architectural’s past, present and future. This is where I see light mingling with darkness. This is where the reveal stops the heart. This is where photography begins.

The Darkness

Looking west.

Mary Shelley wrote the Frankenstein story in the darkness of candlelight. The World War 2 Dresden bombing in darkness blinded the pilots from seeing the horror. Thomas De Quincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater” was a frenzied darkness revealed. “Silence of the Lambs” was a soulless darkness discovered. Alice falling down the rabbit hole in darkness was a world revealed. Jack the Ripper allowed for darkness to follow the victims screams. “The Naked City” is where the mysteries of the dark live.


I have found that while walking alone in New York City’s darkness my imagination prevails over my reality: I walk among the shadowed chiaroscuro buildings and city life. My mind prompts a narrative. Every frame become a reality. A frame is a fictional account of non-fiction. I live in a cinematic dream; a cinematic nightmare. I listen to my camera’s “snippety, snap-snap”. A photograph that matters is made.

The Light

550 Madison Avenue.

The light is simple: Dancing naked atop two blue whales while crossing the seven seas: Skydiving from afar with New York City in sight: caressing the neck of a twenty-three foot reticulated python with my finger tips: these thrills  give my electrolytes meaning.

I never ran to be in position. I saw a photograph that needed to be seen and I walked: It is a pace that made sense to get somewhere without drawing attention. In the moment I have never wanted anyone to see what I see. What I saw in my mind’s eye, always needed to be revisited one thousand more times: Imagine Alec Guinness’s character in The Bridge on the River Kwai: Alec was retrieved from his sun baked solitary confinement. His eyes raised to the sun: He blinked one thousand times in a nano second: His eyes began to see clearly: I too blink one thousand times in a nano second: My eyes begin to see clearly: it is the only way I am sure of what I have seen.

My four plus decades photographing in New York City has given me an opportunity to witness the undiscovered: It is one of the greatest games that I play with my camera’s eyes: To walk a mile further: To see a bit more than what I am supposed to see.

Sometimes in a plethora of memorable reveries, I hear the Celtic Sanctuary from the movie Braveheart; The two nearly star-crossed lovers began their tryst in the darkness of the night and continue into the daylight of the dawn. My photographs begin in the darkness of my mind, and come to life in the light of the day.

For every photograph I make there is a mingling of dreams from when I sleep and when I dance.

Corridors are passageways and windows into world’s that few recognize: If you allow the camera to see.

Looking north.

All photographs by Richard Schulman.

Richard Schulman is a photographer and writer. His books include Portraits of the New Architecture and Oxymoron & Pleonasmus. He lives in New York City.