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April 20, 2018
Text: Edie Cohen
Mention the phrase architectural photographer, and a few names come immediately to mind. Julius Shulman, arguably the best of our time and a special Interior Design Hall of Fame inductee, is undoubtedly the first. Benny Chan tops the list, too. So, it’s only fitting that he will receive the 2018 Julius Shulman Institute Excellence in Photography Award in conjunction with Los Angeles’s Woodbury University.
Full disclosure: Chan is a profound personal and professional friend of all of us at Interior Design. With his artistry and grace, he helps our pages and covers look great month after month. He’s a joy to work with whether shooting on the West Coast near his home base of Los Angeles, on the East Coast near our New York City headquarters, or further afield in Europe or Asia. The close coterie of designers and architects with which he works feels the same way. In short, everyone loves Benny.
He shoots not only architecture and interiors but fine art photography, filtered through his unique take on seemingly mundane subjects. L.A. traffic? Runways at LAX? Their images become works of art through Chan’s eyes and technical ingenuity. He has shot these series dangling from a helicopter harness shouldering an immense camera of his own making. How about forlorn laundromats at night? Or hospital x-rays rendered stunning black and white abstracts via his vision. Further abroad, he has shot the impeccable Vitra factory, helping us understand why its products, too, veer on works of art. His latest endeavor, a series on Los Angeles architecture under construction, is the subject of his exhibition at the Woodbury University Hollywood (WUHO) Gallery, opening May 12.
Hong Kong-born, Chan earned a bachelor of architecture degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) where he received the Henry Adams Student Award and the 1992 Paris Prize. He then traveled through Europe focusing on his dual passions of architecture and photography. Returning to Los Angeles, he worked for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Neil M. Denari Architects. Opting for full-time photography, he established Fotoworks in 1993.
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