The Architecture of Cities: New York IV

Moynihan Train Hall.

If you would not mind toe stepping into peaceful urban madness. We might listen to one thousand songs: Or we might merely hear Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California”: Rolling Stones’s “Street Fighting Man”.  But just maybe  “Also Sprach Zarathustra ” sets the tone to follow me as I lift a lens to New York on this fine day.

We march along like kindred spirits: We wait to witness the manifestation of things that need our eyes. How many times have you witnessed a crimson alligator mating with a yellow swallow?

Grand Central Station.

I tend to what my camera might see. I wait. I might as well be a botanist tending to ten newly bred orchids. Years pass.

I tend to what my camera might see. I wait. I might as well be an archaeologist tending to the preservation of a newly discovered artifact. Time will tell.

I tend to what my camera might see. I wait. I might as well be a psychiatrist tending to the mental ailments of a pining patient. Something will be revealed.

I tend to what my camera might see. I wait. I might as well be an astrophysicist tending to the nature of the universe. Stars talk.

Cruising: look what the camera saw.

How we will interpret what we see and the laws of the universe, all serve the same purpose: To understand what appears before us: to discovery and the knowledge that leads us forward.

The tools of some scientists may seem different than a photographer’s: but the purpose they serve are the same as my camera: The camera and lens are my tools that I carry daily. There is always an opportunity to excavate a city’s history that hides in plain sight.

Financial District.

I stare through my viewfinder. The time lapses from daylight to the twilight before the night. What have I captured? I might have been in India: I might have been in China: But where I have been or where I am in the moment, nothing changes: I wait.

Being a photographer: Capturing a photograph: Living with dreams: Reminds me that everyday I stand with my camera, I need to be like my owl: The flight of an owl seems silent to man’s ears: I stand in that same silence: My eyes too pose silently in anticipation of an image that might appear.

An owl can twist its head around some 270 degrees. It is less than my mind twists: but like the owl my mind quivers as the prey appears…we capture.

This architectural photographer approaches each and every commission or daily appraisal of architecture as if I am excavating the properties of the said building. There is a reveal. The camera lives to record the best moments: The best of architectural photography is when an audience of one or one million becomes a witness to that reveal. It is the light the eye sees in the highland valleys or the urban streets that matter.

Every picture shares a story: Family: Nature: Portraits: Interiors: Landscapes: All of the photographers I have admired have had one thing in common: A story exists to tell. Certain egos might deny their influences: But Roger Fenton, Eugene Atget, Herbert List, Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, Angel Adams and more: At one time or another they hollered as I do:”That’s it”. That’s it is an endearing self awareness. All seasoned photographers know when they have been successful and why. They know their efforts: They utilized tools and heart to achieve.

The shape of things to come.

You see, all of the above are scientists. They used everything they knew about the science, math and their heart to execute as well as possible. Those photographers were like Livingstone, Leakey, Burton and more. Everyone was searching for something to behold, the “aha”; just different methods.

If you can hear the silence a photographer sees, maybe the answers or discoveries are linked to Gerard de Nerval’s pet lobster: The silence and the secrets are found only in the deep. Nerval’s secrets were in the oceans’ deep: Mine are clearly in my mind.

Everyone with a camera or phone has something to share: The light, the moment or the experience.

I can talk endlessly about all of the cities I love shooting in: Tokyo, Paris, Mexico, London, Barcelona and one hundred more.

But for today, and the past few weeks I revel in the joy of stepping into my New York streets. For decades I have photographed the city as if I am saying “what’s new”.

Sometimes I hate to admit that I have these passions. But to have lived my life and still almost quiver when I see what matters to me: To come to terms with the manner in which I espied the discovery; Is an amazing part of this photographer’s life.

I leave you with one more idiosyncratic consideration: I can still hear the music all the way from my heart to my eyes: Cold Play’s “Clocks”??

When it matters most, make more.

All photos 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.