The Architecture of Cities: The World

Zaha Hadid. 520 West 28th Street.

I remember the first time I heard the Siberian Tiger dance to Led Zeppelin’s rhythmic intro “Going to California”.

I have read that there are less than six-hundred  Siberian Tigers in the wild: I have made less than six-hundred successful photographs: There is something wild about mingling mind with nature.

There is something wild about marrying magical realism with the mingling of architecture’s photography.

My camera sees the changing architecture: There are thousands of names to choose from: Some design towers: some design the intimate moments: The moments that might last a millennium or a single legislative decision to augment a city street.

Oscar Niemeyer Espace Niemeyer.

The camera is like a witches brew: The possibility of creating extreme depth of field allows the camera to instantaneously see a cauldron of life’s fast/forward and past/present: The cinematographer Robert Richardson taught me this technique he utilized in the movie “Talk Radio”. He in fact used a single filter. I in fact lost that same filter traveling one day in a dream: But I returned to the mechanics of photography to retrieve a similar capability.

When I visit various corridors of the world, I must enable my eyes to see this strategy:

I am bringing into focus landscape, people and a built environment to inform a larger audience.

Santiago Calatrava The Oculus.

I could have spent a lifetime gathering data from the library of congress’s every page.

But I am a student of photography as a discipline and a history: The names that formed my vision allowed curiosity to lead them to the need to photograph a world: Édouard Baldus, Herbert Bayer, Bill Brandt, Saul Leiter and many more examined the world through a unique scope.

If I was to bear witness to the changing world of architects and architecture, I needed to follow their examples on a magical carpet: trains planes and automobiles would have to do.

I have spent a few lifetimes listening to the words of architects: The conveyors of obvious change like Oscar Niemeyer, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Kenzō Tange, Kengo Kuma, Santiago Calatrava and of course countless more who revitalized the vocabulary of architecture.That is why sometimes when I piece these short essays together I remind myself of the “Rock” band “Spirit”. The line from “Nature’s Way”: “It’s nature’s way of telling you a song”,  has always raced though my mind when I talk about what I do or what I see. I sing to share.

Kenzo Tange Tokyo Olympic Gymnasium.

My mind need not travel too far to consider what and where changes are occurring. But why they are changing and in what form is sort of up to me to explain: Robert Richardson’s considerable affect on my vision and scope, had me re-evaluating almost every perspective I could see.

Then add to the brew the history of photography: my architectural photography. Then like a pastry chef adding swirl of icing to the cake: the many conversations I have had with famous/infamous architects.

I mentioned that I have only produced a few hundred  good images out of maybe one hundred thousand photographs.

The reason is that when I travel across cities/countries and continents it is difficult to show the magic in reality. But when I need a bit of inspiration I merely remind myself of my brethren in Siberia: and so we dance.

Kengo Kuma Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center.

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.