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'Follow the Sun'

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2008, at 10:19AM
Josh, the photographer Ed Fuentes

“Dude . . . you wouldn’t believe the day I just had.” 29 year old photographer Josh Spencer's face had the look of a skateboarder who had just found the perfect urban playground. He did. Spencer had just gotten off a double-decker bus that was following the Downtown sun with architectural photographer Julius Shulman, known for a decades long body of work defining Los Angeles.

Shulman's Los AngelesSpencer used the day to observe, and photograph, how Shulman frames the City. The same was true of another of Spencer's photo heroes, Patricia Lanza, who was also aboard with an Annenburg Foundation sponsored documentary film crew covering the day for posterity.

The bus, with police escort, began on the western edge of Staples Center. “We would cruise a street slowly, and when Julius saw something he liked, the bus stopped so he could get his shot,” says Josh, who managed to spend some time with the renown photographer and get on a first name basis. “He’s as sharp as they come,” he says, and adds how the 97-year old Mr. Shulman talked about how he still is shooting weekly with his assistant, and remains as excited about photography and Los Angeles as he was in the 1950s.

-5.jpgJosh noted that Shulman said he considers his own current photographs as “propaganda exposing what he deems as poor urban planning.” Then Shulman softened as he was asked by another photograher what keeps him feeling young. Shulman replied that the thrill of the chase and the magic of getting a shot is still the driving force in his life.

I would think for those photographers, many who shoot the city daily, spending a day with Julius Shulman was magic. Archive it as Case Study Shooting Thrill, Downtown, January 20, 2008.

Julius Shulman's Los Angeles exhibit at the Central Library closes January 27. Top Photo: Ed Fuentes. All other photos courtesy of Josh Spencer © 2008 Josh Spencer

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