Armed with his medium-format Fuji GX617 panoramic camera and film, Cleveland-based photographer Eric Mull traveled to 17 cities to capture the 51 tallest buildings in the U.S.; and to create black and white panoramic photography for his new book The American Skyscraper.
A purist by nature and a commercial shooter "by day," Mull had some unqiue technical challenges with shooting buildings as subjects as far as lighting and shooting angles was concerned, but enjoyed capturing subjects he did not have to pose, in natural elements he was not able to change.
Since discovering a passion for the craft at age 18, Mull has been seeing the world through panoramic vision. While other shooters were concentrating on horizontals, Mull turned his camera sideways focusing on the vertical panoramic photography of inanimate objects.
"Most people drive by our nation's skylines everyday without ever looking up," says Mull. "The strength and pride that exists within those structures have been instrumental in shaping America during the 1900s."
The year and a half-long project documented every era of American architecture, from the Woolworth Building in New York City and its 57 stories built in 1913, to the New York Times Building, completed in 2007, and stretching skyward for more than 1,000 feet. The book captures each city's tall buildings in a single day of shooting.
From iconic buildings like the Sears Tower in Chicago (108 stories tall) to the Empire State Building (102 stories tall) and the Chrysler Building (77 stories tall) in New York to buildings that define their city's skyline like the Bank of America Tower in San Francisco (52 stories tall) and Key Tower in Cleveland (57 stories tall), The American Skyscraper also illustrates the achievements of great architects like I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli, and Philip Johnson.
According to those familiar with the project, the buildings posed a minefield of logistics to navigate in post 9-11 America. A photographic adventure not unlike Kerouac's On The Road, Mull had confrontations with many security guards when trying to find locations off-site to shoot. Still, the challenges were well worth it.
"The detail and vast differences from building to building in each American city are as defining as the people themselves," says Mull who is now working on another book of panoramas.
Cities covered include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Jersey City, and Miami.
Mull has worked as a professional photographer for more than 20 years, beginning as a photojournalist. Now he shoots for magazines as well as corporate and commercial clients. For more information, visit theamericanskyscraper.com.