Street Photography by Mark Cohen – Grim Street

Mark Cohen is an American photographer best known for his inventive street photography, and a self-described “surrealistic action photographer,” who uses flash at close distance on his subjects and is referred to as a great outsider of street photography. During the 1970’s  Mark Cohen developed a  unique style and method contrary to what was coming out of New York by the likes Joel Meyerowitz, William klein and Garry Winogrand who were at the forefront of street photography and previously with Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank.

Mark Cohen Grim Street

Mark Cohen would seem to be rebelling against the norm of what was perceived as street photography whose inspiration seemed to come out of chaos itself. His book Grim Street is edgy, sexual, gritty and full of powerful imagery. The subjects are often fragmented and captured from a ridiculous close distance on his unsuspecting subjects providing an insight removed from our daily experience on the dusty streets of the mining town of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania USA which he calls home. The Gloomy and innocent mood transpires through the black and white photographs and confronts the viewer with startling beauty, while rapidly moving through from rough and confrontational, to serene and peaceful with a strange sort of respect for his subjects.

Mark Cohen’s method is not just a typical grab shot either, his camera, prefocused and often shot from the hip level searches around its subject hunting titbits of delicate detail joined by the thrusting burst of flash from the strobe in a violently cropped spot of the visceral, sexualised human body.  In the video you see Cohen stalking his subjects, using cover to ambush and feigning disinterest to his subjects; you also see that often he doesn’t even use the viewfinder at all to frame his subject which makes for one of the more complex bodies of work in street photography around.

Cohen also has another book True Color which follows on from Grim Street and is in err… colour, without flash, and was commissioned by the George Eastman House and is next on my book list to buy!




Street Photography by Mark Cohen – Grim Street & True Color
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