Above: An acrobatic moment is captured on a Maui beach in Hawaii.
Atlanta’s go-to podiatrist, Perry Julien, knows his foot from his lens. He has treated decades and generations of toe, ankle, arch, shin, heel and bunion sufferers, to the extent that his name is synonymous with expert care and a warm, gracious attitude. He has been co-medical director for many of Atlanta’s professional sports teams and road races.
While admiring the stunning photography in his office corridors, many may not know that Julien is the master behind the camera. Nature, yoga, underwater, exotic locations and big-name rock stars are in his thrall.
No one ever saw Julien back away from a challenge, which led to his own devastating sports accidents and self re-creation.
Jaffe: How did you get interested as a child in photography to bring you to this point?
Julien: My father, a Holocaust survivor, did what he could to carve out a living in New York City by being a tailor and selling vacuums. When he was inside the home demonstrating vacuums, he pitched the idea of doing family portraits. This led to weddings and bar mitzvah jobs. He took photography lessons from an expert, Joseph Schneider. Thus, my interest came from assisting my father on his weekend shoots and in the darkroom on Sunday as we developed and printed his images.
I was a teenager when I discovered that my father’s name was originally Julius Zimmerman. My uncle authored the book “Angel by My Side” about their family’s escape from Nazi Germany.
Jaffe: This is sentimental because my 95-year-old mother, who was your patient, used to refer to you as “Julien Perry”; thus, she was on to something authentic by juxtaposing your name.
Jaffe: Describe your podiatry practice and how your art and medicine intertwine.
Julien: A step beyond sports medicine, I specialize in activity medicine. We help people maintain their mobility. I have treated a 90-year-old who runs the Peachtree Road Race and others who enjoy an adventurous lifestyle. In medicine there is an art which is as important as the scientific or book method, and, as in photography, I try to think out of the box in caring for patients. Now today’s photography is more free-form and experiential.
Jaffe: What are some of the exotic places where you have shot photography?
Julien: Bolivia, Hawaii, India, a ghost town in the Nevada desert and Alaska. I am into unique, compelling places and people. Lately I have been really passionate about photographing models underwater. Many of these practice yoga or are models and love the feeling of being weightless underwater.
Jaffe: You have been out of work for long periods of time with accidents from your extreme ski adventures. How has that influenced you?
Julien: In Vail (in 2006) my leg was shattered while ski racing. I underwent 25-plus surgeries and was in a wheelchair for six months and on crutches for 18 months. I knew then that my marathon running, long-distance cycling and mountain climbing would no longer be possible. Later (in 2013) while returning to skiing in Park City, Utah, my right arm was crushed when I was struck from behind by another skier. Photography became my passion and motivation. I put my energy into seeking out unique people and locations.
Jaffe: How did you segue into rock star and concert photography?
Julien: In 1997 I started photographing music. I played guitar and bass (poorly), and this allowed me to combine my love of both. The first band I shot was Led Zeppelin at Madison Square Garden. I am now the house photographer for events at Music Midtown and the Tabernacle, which I shoot for Live Nation, and also cover events for Creative Loafing. Some of the shows I have covered recently are U2, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and Taylor Swift.
Jaffe: What are some of the most bizarre incidents you’ve experienced?
Julien: At a Jesus Lizard concert, the lead singer stage-dived, and I was kicked in the head. At Iggy and the Stooges, the crowd surged, and I was bruised in the abdomen for weeks. “Anything to get the shot” is my motto.
In trying to get a nature fashion photograph of a moonscape in a dried riverbed, I went down in quicksand. That cost me a new pair of shoes and jeans. Once while shooting a model in Hawaii, she was swept off by a rogue wave and rescued by a nearby paddleboat.
Jaffe: What’s left for you to conquer?
Julien: Everything. Photography is not so much about technical ability but what you see. I enjoy the immediacy and spontaneity of photographic images. I’ll go back to deserts, oceans and far-off horizons that provide a compelling backdrop for the people that I photograph. I feel like another trip to India may be in the cards. Or I can just go out on the street and find that moment waiting to be photographed.
Jaffe: If I were you, I’d do anything but ski.