Use the slideshow to view Samuels's photographs. If viewing on a computer, clicking the image will open the slideshow in a shadow box gallery.
These images were all done in the same semester—I think it was 1968. I would have been a fourth-year architecture student. I took Geoff Winningham’s very first course in photography at the Media Center, which was then still at the University of St. Thomas before it moved to Rice in 1970. Geoff had just come back from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago and was very attuned to street photography. So that’s where I went.
At about the same time, maybe a bit earlier, we were lucky to have artist/philosopher Charles Schorre exclusively teaching our architecture class for two semesters. He was a big influence on us, in so many ways. He said, “Buy a single-lens reflex camera.” So, I went out and bought a used Miranda for $50. It was the best camera I ever had because it was so knock-about that I didn't mind using it for everything. You could get it dirty or wet. It had a 50mm lens and that was it.
This sequence of photos was probably shot over several weeks, likely in November or December, as there are Christmas decorations in some of the shots. These images were all made within a few blocks of each other in downtown Houston. There’s the old Foley’s Department Store and the Rice Hotel, and you can still recognize some other buildings in the background.
I walked the streets. I was fascinated with crowds and reflections. In one series I wandered into a shine shop, and these guys let me take pictures. For some of these, my girlfriend was driving my little Studebaker. I was in the passenger seat snapping long exposures of people waiting at stoplights.
When the pandemic shutdown started in 2020, my project was to scan old photos and slides. These photos came from a few rolls of old black and white Tri-X film that I had mostly never printed or even looked at again. They’re fifty years old and still look pretty good.
I was like, “Wow, interesting stuff!” These were always my favorite photographs.
—As told to Jack Murphy
Danny Marc Samuels, FAIA, is Professor in Practice of Architecture at Rice Architecture, Co-director of Construct at Rice Architecture, and Partner at Taft Architects.