Solid foundations

If the City of Angels did ever have any angels, then they are pictured here in Julius Shulman’s iconic photograph of Stahl House.

This is a photograph that captures a sense of place exquisitely. Illuminated against the night, the modernist architecture  elevates these women from the valley of broken dreams below. As they sit there, engaging in idle conversation, everything seems right with the world. Everything is at peace.

Let your eyes lead you to the right spot.

Shulman’s position draws out the lines in the scene, which  lead us into the image to create a kind of visual narrative. In  the foreground the lines of a sun lounger lead us up to the house. Even the placement of the cushion acts like a discreet pointed finger. Then the architecture guides us inwards to the women, before the canopy escorts us outwards again, along  the boulevards of Los Angeles, all the way to the horizon.

From the foreground to the background, always look for the leading lines. They can be subtle or overt, but without an underlying structure to your composition, the viewer  will be lost.


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