Oct 4, 201302:03 PMPoint of View


Beyond the Assignment

Beyond the Assignment

Courtesy © Undine Pröhl

(page 1 of 3)

Bilyana Dimitrova, the architectural photographer and former photo editor for Metropolis has curated an interesting exhibition for the Julius Shulman Institute at Woodbury University, in Los Angeles. Entitled Beyond the Assignment, the show features work from ten of the top architectural photographers in the country, including Peter Aaron, Tim Hursley, Lara Swimmer, and Paul Warchol. To kick off the exhibition, which opens on Saturday and runs until November 1st, the institute will host a panel discussion at Woodbury University's Hollywood Gallery, located on Hollywood Boulevard. The accompanying exhibition catalogue includes an introduction by Dimitrova, which appears below: 


I first spoke with Julius Shulman in 2006. I was working as an architectural photographer and had just started part-time as the photo editor of Metropolis. I was working on the magazine’s 25th Anniversary issue, the biggest issue of the year. I was assembling photographs from twelve of Metropolis’ heavy hitters, the key photographers who had helped the magazine disseminate architecture and design to the world for the past quarter century. Julius was, of course, one of these photographers, and I had to call and ask him to write something about the photographs that he had submitted. I got a two-page handwritten fax from him that I still have to this day.

Getting to talk to Julius meant a lot to me. His enthusiasm for life and the love he had for his work was infectious, even over the phone. He was proof that if you do what you love, you will love doing it until the end of your days. Similarly, the photographers included in the exhibition Beyond The Assignment: Defining Photographs of Architecture and Design all share a love for what they do and, while on assignment, imbue their photographs with their own curiosity, wonderment and joy. Their images show us how this type of engagement with the subject makes for photographs that hold our attention and can render the built environment unforgettable.

Courtesy © Alan Karchmer

The idea for Beyond The Assignment first came to me in 2009 as I was looking through my own archive, selecting images to print and hang in my office. I kept gravitating to images that were not really about the architecture or the design that they represented. They were images that captured my own elation as I found and captured something extraordinary. They expressed my unique experience of the architecture or the design and how it moved and inspired me. The realization that I was moved to create these types of images while on the job reminded me how much I love what I do. My work serves a function for my clients and the architecture and design community, while allowing me to express my creativity, a perfect blend of work and pleasure. I started to think about why this mutual benefit was an important component of my practice, what it added to my work and, by extension, to the larger discourse. I also started to think about the images that turned me onto the field of architectural photography and which photographers were behind them. Quickly a show of these types of images started to evolve and take shape in my mind.

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