The Architecture of Cities: The World

New York Empire State Building.

I still stand in wonderment: I feel like Shakespeare’s Puck: Not the merry wanderer of the forest nights: I am the 180º flip side of that.

Though I am six-foot-three and a million pounds, I am Shakespeare‘s Puck: I am the merry wanderer: I am Puck’s daylight. I am his light: he is my light: I surrender my love for what freezes before my eyes.

I have stood in the Arcadian idyl of our planet’s paradise. I have stood in the center of our planets’ built metropolises. Wherever I may be my mind only hears the dulcet tones of nature’s pitter patter: My eyes see a reflection of myself in ourselves and in architecture’s reflection on our built environment. I then make a picture.

The things I admit to make me cringe a bit. Does making photographs truly make me that happy?

A friend recently wrote to me: “keep freeze framing those unique moments where built history reflects”. When I see those things that I need to see: When I make a photograph that I need to make, of course, the day is mine: The moment is mine; and the capture is mine.

One day in a particular year I felt I was concurrently in many countries and many cities. I remember it felt like I was a spider scrambling on all sides of a web that needed mending.

You might imagine the onslaught of emotions running through my mind: In one moment I was making portraits of famous artists: Henry Moore, Joan Miro and Willem de Kooning (stories for another time): in the next my body was running on empty trying to be somewhere before the light vanished.

Is it cathartic to talk/write about the intrusion of my heart entering my mind as I race from here to there to take pictures? No! But hindsight’s 20/20 allows me to reflect on what it has meant for me to race across millions of miles to make a single snap.

As I write I realize that I have come to terms with my personal insanity: I confess that every single picture I have made is a result of my mind celebrating something that I see; something that I literally express in a voluminous scream: “That’s it”.

The above is not a conversation that one would have with a fellow traveler, a fellow photographer.

London: Wilkinson/Eyre.

The nature of what I have done and what I do and will in the future is my own personal drive to make a new photograph: it is like celebrating a feast of pleasures: like the pleasures of wearing attire that is old and agreeable: it is like the pleasures of donning, wearing something brand new.

Though I have traveled quite a bit for portraits there is nothing in my mind that compares to what the life and breath of architecture can be.

Restoration by Hawkins/Brown.

The feeling reminds me of cinema’s set designers. They create and recreate moments within frames that were not there or might have been there days, years or centuries before.

When I am in the cities of countries, and countries of continents I am uniting everything I know to make in one single frame: a chemical compound that is all brought together in a single set designer’s storyboard.

I am always reveling in the moment:

Bull Ring Seville.

I was standing in Seville, thinking about matadors and bullfights: I was imagining the tragedy of Carmen: I looked deep into my lens: I considered the math, science and technology: The shutter was released: a single photograph was made.

The entrance to the Bull Ring Seville.

Now let’s be honest: if that is not nuts, nothing is.

The day I saw the lead photograph in this essay, I remember taking a few steps forward. I remember asking myself not to move too quickly. I remember thinking about where I should begin the framing. I remember thinking about where I should crop and of course stop.

My feet moved in so many directions: I just laughed out loud. I was so excited to snippety snap, snap that I was literally dancing in place: My body was completely still: yet my mind and body felt a torrent of passions that was totally out of control: The moment was frozen!

From somewhere came the drumming in Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing”. I danced a bit.

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.