Richard Carlton London
'Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment a photographer is creative. Oop! The Moment! Once you miss it, it is gone, forever.'
This quote from Henri Cartier-Bresson might seem an odd choice to begin a book of architectural photographs. Buildings do not move, after all. But as Rick London makes clear, other factors affecting the photograph do move and shift: the light, the sky, the filtering of colors by clouds overhead, extremes of temperature, and even the cleanliness of the architectural subject's windows. London hunts and finds each building's "moment," and compiles them here.
Any corner of the city could come under his lens, but London starts by scouting out promising areas--districts that are historic, or that overflow with creativity. Then he goes on the prowl armed with the eyes of a painter, with curiosity and with his iPhone. He calls his method "pedestrian"--he is on foot, after all, and what could be less remarkable than someone walking a city street, iPhone in hand? Of the multiple photographs he takes, he then notes aesthetically interesting ones, prints them, and then lays them out in a loosely thematic structure. (You can look forward to teasing these structures out as you look through this book.) London accompanies each photograph with a short, epigrammatic description: He always gives you the building's location, and sometimes notes how he shot the picture, conditions affecting it, or a nugget of history.
Reflections of Philadelphia offers an inventive and playful way to consider the city around us. Buildings seen through London's camera sometimes resemble the molecular structure of crystals or the geometry of cloud nebulae. You may have walked by a building a thousand times, but you will never look at it the same way after you have seen London's take on it. Natives of Philadelphia will see old friends in London's cityscapes. Newcomers will make new ones. Art aficionados will enjoy the complex compositions, such as the ghost-like face of Ben Franklin watching out through the reflection of trees, or a vase of buds appearing to spring from a high-rise. Children will get a kick out of discovering geometrical shapes. Native-born or tourist, young or old, you can use this book as a field guide to discovering the city, both its hardscape and London's unique, transcendent perspective on looking at it. And maybe you too will be inspired to look at your surroundings with fresh new eyes, and even to create your own photographs, as London encourages us to do in his endnote.
- Jaan Ingle Troltenier, Art Historian