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David Palermo’s Recent Meeting With Julius Shulman

March 14th, 2008

Recently reader David Palermo had the opportunity to spend over an hour with one of the great architectural photographers, Julius Shulman at his LA home. With David’s permission I am reposting his description of his meeting with Shulman here just as David posted it on the PFRE flickr discussion group:

Hi gang. A number of weeks ago I mentioned that I might get to meet Julius Shulman. Well, yesterday I spent over an hour with him in his home! Just he and I.

If any of you are wondering who this person is – he is probably the most well known architectural photographer on the planet. The following link shows some of his images:

www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/artists_editions/all/0…

and here is a video of him seeing his most recent book set:

www.taschen.com/pages/en/community/video/18507.julius_shu…

What an honor it was to be able to spend time with this legend! I drove 2 hours from Santa Barbara to his L. A. home and nervously rang his doorbell. No answer. I rang it again after a few mins. No answer. Hmmm maybe he is sleeping. What do I do now??? Just then I hear a voice from another part of the house, “Hello? I’m over here.” Whew! He’s here and not sleeping! Cool! So I walk over to the screen door to his office and ask if I can come inside. He says, “Well, I sure hope you aren’t going to stay out there!” The man, at 97 had a sense of humor – very cool. Heck I guess if you make to 97 you have a sense of humor!

So I came in and we chatted for a long time. We talked about his images. He gave me lighting tips! He wanted to know about me and my work etc… just the nicest guy you could meet.

I study his images quite a bit – he is one of my favorite photographers. His sense of design about a place is amazing… that’s what I like most. He can see compositions so well.

You’d think at 97 he’d be retired. No way. He shoots about 5 assignments per month. He just got back from South Coast Plaza – a beautiful mall in Southern CA. he was in Palm Springs shooting there. And recently finished a calendar at the Griffith Observatory with his partner Juergen Nogai;

www.friendsoftheobservatory.com/items.php?itemid=2

He was gracious enough to autograph my books and calendar. I collect photography books.

I think the most useful thing I took away from this meeting was that lighting is important if it compliments the way a place was built. Now I know this doesn’t apply too much to RE photography but it applies to what we do in general as photographers. It means a lot to me to think about that a little but more because I get so caught up in lighting sometimes that I forget what I am trying to do/say as a photographer.

He invited me to show him my portfolio in April. He wants to talk about it and help me edit etc…

Oh he is also working on about 5 more books. One we will all be very interested in having! he asked me to read some of what he wrote to see if I liked it. I did. ; )

If you ever get a chance to meet and talk with photographers you admire, do it! It’s a huge inspiration!

Check this out:

www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/shulman/

Be sure to click on the sound description about how he shot his most famous image “Case study house #22”.

David

What a fantastic opportunity! Thanks David for letting us share it.

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