November 15, 2007
The photographer who defined urban L.A.
(Page 4 - Previous Page)When you ask Shulman about the growth of Los Angeles as a city, he divines no pattern and presents no special insight.
"It just evolved," he answers. "It was organic," he says, much as he describes his career and his life.
Shulman's abiding affection for nature running in parallel with the modernization, industrialization, growth and change of the last century brings to mind another classic -- Chaplin's "Modern Times," in which the Tramp and the street urchin, literally enmeshed in city life, decide at movie's end to leave for the country. Nature, and its balance, have always been the antidote to a modern world that seems out of control.
As the 20th century evolved, with all its chaos and tragedy, as Los Angeles grew in all its sprawl, as the 21st century takes hold with much to fear and much to hope for, Shulman endures in his 97th year because of his ability to make time stop in his photographs, to appreciate what is before him, to bring an ordered calm to our turbulent times, to take from modernity and make it seem classic. And then, to move on to the next photo -- or the next party.
Tom Teicholz is a film producer in Los Angeles. Everywhere else, he's an author and journalist who has written for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Interview and The Forward. His column appears every other week.