Mark Cohen, street photography master
Mark Cohen was born and lives in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He attended Penn State University and Wilkes College between 1961 and 1965, and opened a commercial photo studio in 1966.
Mark Cohen’s photography was first exhibited in the 1969 exhibition Vision and Expression organised by Nathan Lyons at George Eastman House.
Mark Cohen has twice been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1975.
A monograph of black and white photographs, Grim Street, was published in 2005 by powerHouse Books. A second book, True Color, followed in 2007
The majority of the work for which Cohen is known is shot in the neighbourhoods of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton. Characteristically he shoots his subjects close in, often using a wide-angle lens and flash, frequently cropping the subjects’ heads from the frame, concentrating on small details and moments.
Cohen has described his method as ‘intrusive’. “They’re not easy pictures. But I guess that’s why they’re mine.”
Cohen has a very unique approach to his subject matter, in that he gets up closer to his subjects than other artists who photograph candid situations in public places. At times it looks as if he is standing within inches of the person he is photographing. One of his trademarks is that he does not always photograph his subject’s face. Instead, he zooms into a portion of his or her body, allowing the viewer to only see a hand, half of a body, half of the face, or legs. This really makes his photographs appear eerie.