"Modernism really was about a belief in a promising future, a belief that our problems could be solved easily by progress," said Craig Krull, whose gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica represents Shulman’s work. Krull said he saw the uplifting diagonal of Shulman's photograph, much like the fins on 1950s cars, as having an "optimistic flair."
While conceding that the photo is both "comfortable and thrilling," he said it also has a "portentous feel of white, well-to-do women encased in a glass box above a dark and teeming city."
Shulman knew he had taken a great picture, but he could not have known how enduring it would be. First published on the cover of the Sunday Pictorial section of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner two months after it was taken, it would make architectural stars of both Shulman and Koenig. It has been reproduced countless times in books, magazines and newspapers.
"And suddenly Pierre Koenig becomes a hero, based on one picture," Shulman said of the photo he called "one of my masterpieces."
In time, the scene-stealing fame that came to Shulman with the picture grew to rankle the architect, who later became a professor at USC's School of Architecture and who died in April 2003.
"It's not just a photograph, it's the house too," said Koenig, who said he very consciously designed the house so its horizontal lines would echo the city's grid below.
Shulman's photographs were not without controversy. Some believed he made the structures look too beautiful.
He rearranged furniture to suit his perspective, brought in props and posed models in the frame. Sometimes he used filters or infrared film to make his photos look more dramatic and full of contrast.
He also would shoot through cut branches or pots of nursery plants to give the impression that a newly completed home was more fully landscaped.
Shulman was unapologetic about these tactics, saying he wasn't just taking pictures, he was "selling modernism."
"I sell architecture better and more directly and more vividly than the architect does," he said.
In his later years, the value of Shulman's photographs increased dramatically. Photos that in the past he had sold for $35 or $50 apiece began fetching, on the art market, $2,000 to $20,000 each.
Always generous with what he knew about his profession, Shulman for decades conducted seminars in photography at USC, UCLA and other universities. He was awarded the American Institute of Architecture's Gold Medal for architectural photography in 1969.
Shulman's home in the Hollywood Hills, designed by Soriano, was designated a monument by the L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission in 1987 as the only remaining unaltered steel-frame structure by the architect.
Though his shooting slowed down in his later years, Shulman continued taking assignments, working with his collaborator, Juergen Nogai, into his late 90s.
In 2005, the Getty Center announced that it had acquired Shulman’s archive of 260,000 negatives, prints and transparencies.
Shulman's first wife, Emma, died in 1973, and his second, Olga, died in 1999. He is survived by his daughter and a grandson, Timothy, both of Santa Barbara.
Services are pending. His family suggests donations to the Los Angeles Conservancy or the Friends of the Los Angeles River.
Luther is a former Times staff writer.