Chasing the Light; Chasing History

One day many years ago I was strolling as if I was a ghost among the throngs of Fifth Avenue holiday revelers. My left eye caught a glimpse of something sparkling. Millions of people made noise; I scampered across the avenue. I wanted to see the source of the glint in my left eye.

I felt naked: My camera draped over my neck: I walked tippy-toe as if along the Northern Cape Province in Kimberley, South Africa. I imagined I spotted The Millennium Star.

Met Life Clock Tower: New York City.

That twilight evening I was younger than I am today: my youthful exuberance believed I had discovered something I needed to capture.

I pressed, I urged myself to make this photograph before it vanished in history’s memory.

It felt as if I was on a safari. I heard something in the bushes. I saw the sparkle of my prey. My camera moved to capture what initially was a glint. In the moment the blue was dazzling.

I work very hard to make a photograph. Sometimes I will hear the needs of the client: Sometimes I will hear my own aesthetics: Whatever it may be, I prowl around my intended capture until I feel there remains one solution:”Snippety-Snap-Snap”.

Architect Toyo Ito:: Hotel Santos Porta Fira in Barcelona.

Sometimes I may overwork an idea and get caught in Copernicus’s Epicycle: circling around the intended shot so many times, I can hear the fear of losing the light into the darkness: What an unfathomable risk that would be.

I cannot allow the burden of making a successful shot sway my choices: I just need to be alone in my mind: to dance in the quiet of my mind: Then I must shoot:

If I allow myself to dance: If I feel the quietude: The moment will relax: The picture will become part of the dream I imagined.

I remember one day in the Museum of Modern Art. On one wall there was Picasso’s “Guernica”. On the other side of the wall was Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy”.

I scanned the rooms looking for security guards. Then I secretly touched the Picasso and the Rousseau.

That very moment was so electrifying that I realized the rest of my life would be about the moments in my eyes:

I began to imagine what it might feel like to sneak a touch of the world’s great art> I wondered what an emotional charge it could be to caress the best the world has to offer.

I turned my energies to architecture: I realized my eyes had to capture for my own personal  history what might be the most exciting architecture.

The United Nations: New York City.

My mind toured the globe: My mind toured continents, countries and cities: Not only would I experience the rise and fall of cultures, but my camera would have a compelling conversation:

My camera would capture Niemeyer, Hadid, Gehry, Kahn, Wright and hundreds more> My camera would through my pictures listen to their conversations: It is my camera that needs to capture what might be great.

I could be the whale that sings, breathes and swallows all of the krill that swim the seven seas: Imagine the stories that I could tell: the adventures I might experience: The one day, one moment that my camera might see.

My camera is like the jeweler who looks through his loupe and identifies a diamond’s vein of blue. My camera is the one who gasps, “Aha”. My camera is the one that makes sense of my days as a photographer.

It is my heart that shakes…It is my heart that shakes as I race to capture the light before it turns into the darkness.

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.