Julius Shulman and the Fujica GX617

Recently I've been fortunate on two counts: I heard Julius Shulman speak in person and I had a job that required the use of a Fujica GX617. Shulman spoke about a lot of things—none of which touched upon the questions put to him. If you're 97 and still working and your images define Modernism in LA, maybe even define the photography of architecture, you don't have to answer questions. One of the things he said that I enjoyed hearing is that the camera is the least important part of the equation. True. His brilliance is in being able to see the essence of things, physical things, built structures, lines, volumes, masses, spaces. I often wonder if people really see that in his work, since so often we get caught up with dropping names ("NOOOTRA") or thinking about architectural history. Shulman's work is very important historically, but as someone who tries to do what he did (I just said "tries"), I see the value in his work less in its historical context and more in its teaching how to see and interpret and present.
So the connection between this great photographer and this camera? Whether he ever used it or not, I couldn't say. He said it's not about the camera, and it isn't. But sometimes a camera is so fun to use and so helpful in getting the user to see in a different way, that well, it is about the camera.

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