Julius Shulman, who died two days ago at an advanced age after a full life, is one of those photographers who are well known in their sub-speciality but not as well known among the general public—including, even, photography enthusiasts. Mr. Shulman is probably better known among architects than he is among photographers.
For a little more background: we were tipped off by reader Allan Connery to a video of Calgary architect John Brown giving a virtual tour of Pierre Koenig's Stahl House. The Stahl House was the subject of Julius Shulman's most famous photograph, a picture that came to define mid-century Los Angeles modernism. And here's a link to information about the award-winning film about Schulman, "Visual Acoustics," compliments of reader Rodney Dean.
Shulman published or was a party to dozens if not hundreds of books. A Constructed View: The Architectural Photography of Julius Shulman (here's the U.K. link) gives an excellent introductory overview of his work, a brief biography, and useful information about architectural photography in general. For a more forthrightly nuts-and-bolts approach, there's a reprint available in the U.S. of his classic 1962 instructional book Photographing Architecture and Interiors. The latter deserves a place in the library of any aspiring architectural photographer, but it's no longer a good basic introduction to techniques and it won't be the place to go for things like advice on lighting equipment. Mined for more of a holistic approach to a career and a subject by those who wish to know more about Shulman's thinking and methods, however, the title still has a lot to offer, even to generalists. Those who want a more comprehensive survey of Shulman's work will want to seek out Taschen's three-volume Modernism Rediscovered, a treasury of pictures selected from the quarter-million negatives Shulman donated to the Getty Research Institute when he retired in 2004. The book is available in the U.K. but doesn't seem to be in print in the U.S. (It shouldn't be that hard to find if you dig a bit, though.)
A couple more accomplished but lesser-known photographers who've belatedly been getting a little attention recently:
Jimmy Forsyth , also recently deceased, was a methodical documentarian of the "Geordies" of Tyneside (in the Northeast of England). A lifelong Socialist, he was blind in one eye, described as "a single man who was often lonely," and he created his work mostly living on "the meager resources of the dole" (what Americans would call welfare). Ironically, his last book, the very inexpensive Jimmy Forsyth: Photographs from the 1950s and 1960s, was published only a few weeks ago in June (the link is to Amazon U.K.; Amazon U.S. doesn't seem to have this title sorted yet). The obituary at The Guardian is a vivid and charming glimpse into the life of a man who must have been "a character."
Elderly but still thriving, the once and future fashion photographer and classically free-spirited bohemian Lillian Bassman was the subject of a delightful short profile in The New York Times yesterday, written by Ginia Bellafante. The story of her onetime repudiation of photography and her discovery of Photoshop in old age is fascinating, as are the details of her independent life (I was especially touched by the brief description of her lifelong romance, from age 6 till death did the two part).
She's also the beneficiary of a new retrospective, upcoming from Abrams. Called simply Lillian Bassman: Women, it's only available for pre-order at the moment. The new book, says the publisher, will have "more than 140 of her best images reproduced in stunning tritone, including many never published before and others not seen since they appeared in the pages of the legendary Harper's Bazaar of the 1950s." Much anticipated by fans of fashion photography, Lillian Bassman: Women is expected by October 1st.
(Thanks to those mentioned, Ade Rixon, Roger Suppona, and all those who sent the Bassman link)
Featured Comment by Carl Weese: "As mentioned in the Times article, Ms. Bassman has a show of her prints opening tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 7/18) at KMR Arts Gallery in Washington, Connecticut. I understand the artist is planning to attend."