Movie Review: Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

Upload from November 22, 2011

If you are at all interested in architecture or architectural photography then Visual Acoustics is a must-see film that is chock full of inspiration!

Visual Acoustics is an incredible documentary about the life and work of the legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman. He collaborated with such architectural giants as Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Frank Gehry. His photography propelled the careers of many architects and inspired the modernist architectural movement.

When this documentary was made Julius was 97 years old! His magnetic personality and enthusiasm for life are a pleasure to witness. The film itself is incredibly well produced with fantastic visuals, great interviews (with writers, architects, & family), behind the scenes shooting, and plenty of anecdotes and stories. In fact, this is probably the best photography documentary I’ve ever seen!

Why You Should Watch This Documentary

  • It’s an incredible look into the world of legendary architectural photographer Julius Shulman
  • It provides great perspective on the body of work and lifetime achievement of a hard working photographer
  • An awesome introduction to architectural photography
  • Great behind-the-scenes footage of Julius shooting
  • Julius breaks down how many of his images were shot
  • Tons of compositional tips

One element of Julius’ life that’s evident in the film is the number of relationships that he has developed, especially with architects and the people whose homes he photographed. It was inspiring to see a photographer cultivating important relationships and how mutually beneficial they could be. It’s an important lesson I try to keep reminding myself of. Having the opportunity to work repeatedly with someone allows improvement and collaboration that results in better work.

You can view some of the beautiful work created by Julius at the Craig Krull Gallery website. You might also be interested in an interview Dwell magazine did with the film’s director, Eric Bricker.

The documentary is available for purchase through the film’s website, or through Amazon. You might also want to check your local public library for a copy!

Rob Lim

Hi there, I’m Rob! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I love all things photography: shooting, teaching and always learning more! If I’m not reading up on the latest photography news, or studying a technique, I’m probably reading a book or planning our next adventure!

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16 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. My fave is the Chrysler Building in New York. It's so glamourous!

  2. Favourite building/structure would have to be….hmm tough choice. Fallingwater probably. Maybe empire state building.

  3. Great review and hurray for giveaways!!

    My fave structure ever has got to be the Brooklyn Bridge. Every time we go to NYC, which is quite often, we always end up on the bridge for hours just taking pictures. There is just something about the whole structure that facinates me. The cables, the wood planks, the bolts… not to forget the history about it; I just love it all!!

  4. My fav structure is the golden gate bridge!

  5. It's so difficult to choose just one… but I love the work of Louis Kahn, in particular, the Phillips Exeter Library in New Hampshire. (with the Salk Institute a close second!)

  6. British Museum Atrium. I must have stood there for a good ten minutes just looking up. Or wait, maybe it's the Pantheon in Rome. The scale of that place is amazing! Yeah, I'll go with the Pantheon.

  7. Nicole Voth says:

    The Guggenheim in NY. So cool…

  8. I love the Sydney Opera House – it's so distinctive and the ultimate architectural symbol of Australia! The architect, Jørn Utzon, won an international competition with his design and despite a lot of controversy, the government actually commissioned him as the sole architect. I've heard that at the change of government that forced Utzon to resign, the architect who took over actually ruined Utzon's plans for the internal structure, which were meant to give the building fantastic natural acoustics, but he was recommissioned in 1999 to design all the future changes, so eventually I guess we'll get to hear what he really wanted it to sound like!

  9. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, takes the cake.

  10. Funny that this should be the topic- I just came across a photo of the Dancing House in Prague! It's so interesting, I've never seen something like it.

  11. My favorite building to date, is a building here in Honolulu, HI. It's a condo unit but the shape and design of the outside of the building just makes me want to go inside to see if it's half as beautiful as it is on the outside. :)

  12. Definitely the Esplanade of Singapore. The first time that I traveled alone, I arrived at first at Singapore. There the first building that I visited was the Esplanade. And it was my first (a lot of first!) "coup de coeur" (don't know the english idiom, maybe "crush" ?). This building is so amazing, it looks like two Durians, or fly eyes.
    During my 3 months traveling, I've been in Singapore for about 10 days in totals, and I've been 4 or 5 times at the Esplanade, and I kept on being amazed every time !

  13. I really enjoy the library in downtown Seattle. It's beautiful and nontraditional, so many options. If you've never seen pics, you really should google it.

  14. Have not seen it in real life life (yet!), but I love the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

  15. My favorite structure is the Eiffel Tower! The tower itself and the magnificent views from the tower, its incredible! Oh la la!

  16. My favorite building/structure would be the Taj Mahal. I have never seen it in person (one day I hope). Not only is the architecture amazing but also the reason it was built.

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