In the Style of Stoller, 2007
Like a lot of guys, I once dreamed of becoming an architect. I don’t know if I had any earthly idea what that meant. My vision of the profession was shaped by books, movies and by a few friends and neighbors who were architects. The fictional characters were interesting and compelling, men manically driven by their imagination and their desire to leave a lasting mark on the landscape. The real live architects I knew were similarly interesting, worldly people.
I suppose some of us are builders by nature. I built fanciful structures with wooden blocks long after it was age-appropriate. When I should have been listening in class I instead made drawings of buildings in the margins of my notebooks and imagined majestic interior spaces. In my quest to learn more, I visited buildings. I read architectural design magazines. When I was in college and should have been paying attention to other things, I spent evenings sequestered in the library pouring over books about architecture.
I failed to achieve my dream for reasons of my own making. I embraced three-dimensional design, the challenge of placing distinctive structures in context and the tangible aspects of solid geometry. But I couldn’t seem to get my mind around more conceptual math. I still have a hard time building anything with a straight edge or precise corners. So in the end it’s probably a good thing that people’s lives were not put at risk in buildings I designed.
Back in those dreamy days of youth, though, no photographer fueled my interest in architecture more than the late Ezra Stoller. (I wrote about Julius Shulman, another member of my architectural photography pantheon, here.) Stoller’s photographs filled the pages of Architectural Record and accompanied stories about modern architecture in other magazines and newspapers. My interest in architecture bloomed in the early 1960s. Many of the great architects of the Twentieth Century were working in those days, and Ezra Stoller was their preferred photographer.
If this kind of photography interests you, there are a lot of Stoller’s photographs on Google here.
If you’re more interested, a new collection of Stoller’s work, Ezra Stoller: Photographer, is coming out in December. And if you’re in New York, there’ll be an exhibit of Stoller’s work opening at the Yossi Milo Gallery in January. Finally, you can also check out the web site for Esto, the firm that was built around the Ezra Stoller body of work and continues to represent a small group of superb architectural photographers.