I met photographer Richard Schulman and his wife, Barbara, a few years back and instantly developed a friendship with them. Their love of design and architecture is infectious—they eat, sleep, and breath design. And in Richard's case, he shoots it. He photographs both buildings and the people who create them with equal precision and he's shot pretty much every significant artist and architect of the last 50 years. He sat down for an exclusive interview with Dwell about working with legends like Philip Johnson and Andy Warhol, and he curated and provided commentary for a collection of his work, twenty-two images in all. Stay tuned for that slideshow, which we'll share later this week.
What's easier, shooting buildings or architects? Which is more fun?
I am fortunate to be commissioned to shoot both portraits and architecture. They are both fun. I love meeting the personalities and capturing their spaces, and I love illuminating architecture for all to see.
Of your portrait subjects, who surprised you the most?
Probably Philip Johnson. He knew everything about my career and was generous with his time and was supportive of my career.
Significant. It was an amazing moment because Andy introduced me to Jean Michel Basquiat during the shoot. During the session I made a portrait of the two men together. Historically, it's now the only "posed portrait" of the two in the world.
You've shot what seems like every major artist and architect of the last fifty years. Are there differences between the artists and the architects?
The artist imagines an idea. An architect imagines the world.
Who do you wish you could photograph, but never had the opportunity?
Dead or alive? A portrait of Miles Davis, President Obama, Bill Clinton, Robert Oppenheimer, Einstein, and Sophia Loren when she was twenty years old.
You're also a professor at Parsons. What's the greatest piece of advice you could give to those looking to become photographers?
Go with your heart, define your passion, and organize a business plan.
What was your most unusual shoot?
Photographing "Samantha" a 23-foot-long reticulated python, feeding on a 40-pound pig, "Babe."
Have you become friends with any of your subjects?
I have friends from my sessions from many countries—architects, designers, artists, and collectors.
How is it that you began shooting the Pritzker Prize winners?
I have photographed 27 of the 32 winners. I think for one photographer it's the most substantial archive of the Pritzker Prize winners in one portfolio. It started with Philip Johnson and Richard Meier introducing me to other unique architects. My books have also allowed me access to some of the most interesting voices in architecture.