Would you dare shoot like Mark Cohen (or Bruce Gilden)?

I came across those videos of Mark Cohen on YouTube today (you can check out his books "Grim Street" and "True Color"):

on the second video, skip the intro and go directly to the 1:33 mark:

and I was wondering if you can get away shooting on the street like Mark Cohen today and then I remembered this video of Bruce Gilden:

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  • Ben H

    Looks like a great way to get a nice camera broken. What a couple of @ssholes these guys are.

  • This is all about ethics which the second guy says he doesn’t have. Well, he’s right and it’s sad… Any photography and street photography especially is about respecting your subject, being in harmony with it. These guys may manage to get some interesting pictures but at what price? Not my cup of tea, thanks…

  • Yokokoko

    @Greg: Naturally, street photography does not have anything to do with respecting your ‘subject’, ‘being in harmony with it’, and so forth. It is unceremonious, it protrudes into peoples ever-so-grim daily life and gives them a big shock. Whether you want to invade their privacy with a big bang, or sneak away without getting noticed; it is all up to to the photographer’s very own ethics.

  • andy

    He’s all about snapping away on the streets, see what comes up on the photos and then makes up things to talk about and keeps bullshitting away… “i like that shadow, i like that corner, i find that button on his sweater interesting”, no stories behind his work… so sad in my opinion. Back in my school years, my instructor once made fun and said: If you don’t find any good things to talk about on a photo when doing a critique, say something like “Oh, I like the black matte board I used to frame my work, it’s black.”

  • Paul

    This isn’t about photography anymore, can’t have any respect for this guy.

    • Alain

      Well, I’m interested in exactly the opposite kind of photography, meeting your subject, getting acquainted, including him in the process…
      This is more like hunting…

  • I’ve heard the term bullshit artist all my life, now I know what it means.

  • DFV

    Question; does he ever make a single focused shot?

    I wonder if I would punch a guy out if he got that close..?

    • Eric Pepin

      using a wide angle lens in daylight probably at f8 – f16 with a flash, ya he could get plenty but chooses not too.

  • Ray

    I think my 9 year old could do just as good with a point and shoot. Nothing goes into framing the picture or composing it. This is just a gamble that you catch something worth working with. You may as well be shooting blind folded.
    I don’ consider this a good photographer at all.

  • Being a amateur-streetphotographer I can’t see myself getting shots this way. Despite Mr Cohen is a respected artist, and Bruce Gilden is working for Magnum I find their way of working disrespectful to the people they portrait.

    • Eric Pepin

      Many street photographers take pictures where there subjects do not even know its happening, this could be considered just as disrespectful. Its all opinion, and while I dont love this sort of shooting (in peoples faces) I can appreciate the results it can produce.

      • Sure are the results often beautiful.But taking pictures in that manner leaves no ‘space’ for the people, there is no escaping the picture. While shooting in a less aggressive manner often leads to a nice moment of contact, or even a nice conversation. And people don’t have the feeling they were raided.

  • Doug

    Whata buncha philistines.

  • M!

    @3:59 you can get arrested or beated up in many countries for just doing that

  • Jei

    Brilliant but you’d probably get stabbed or shot shooting like that today. Especially in London!

  • mat

    I’ve never much like how either of these guys startle their subjects. Shooting without the subjects being aware or asking permission first is one thing (and perfectly acceptable IMHO) but physically invading space like that, jumping out with flash in hand, is just crap, poor behavior. In particular Gilden. His representation of the city is just of startled people with little depth or insight.

  • I was just watching a documentary about Henri Cartier-Bresson this afternoon. He was specifically asked why he didn’t use flash. His response was something similar to firing off a gun during a theater performance. It’s violent and disruptive. Exactly what I see here.

    There is not ‘seeing’ to Cohen’s style of shooting. It’s guess work. It’s not respective of either his subjects nor the act of photography.

  • Travis Dart

    Maybe we should start a poll: Morons: Yes or No?

    I think we’re all agreed that the answer is Very Yes.

  • Peter

    There’s nothing quite like the excitement of street photography…. being in the thick of it. And these guys sure seem to have balls of steel… I’ll give them that. But personally I prefer capturing an “untainted” moment…. ie untainted by the presence of a photographer. So the moment.. the emotions, are a genuine thing that was going to happen anyway. Which seems very different to me than a “deer in the headlights” type of moment, where all of the moments, photo after photo, start to look like the same “just before the photographer attacked!” moment.

  • PedroDashT

    WTF !! shooting under woman’s skirts now thats ART !! man i can get my @ss kicked if i did that Artists my foot

  • sflxn

    Hmm… Not my cup of tea. His photos from that video just didn’t inspire me. They seem more like pop culture-y snapshots. I guess if you go around shooting thousands of random snapshots like that a year, you’re bound to get some interesting shots. I’m more interested in contemplated shots than cowardly random snapshots. My type of photography requires quality of effort and not quantity of randomness.

  • dh

    These guys see it then frame the shot. They previsualize the photograph loosely. They know what a 28mm or 35mm is going to get. These are not grabshots. They define a tradition of shooting in the late 20th century derived from early Evans up to Winogrand. They actually change and shift focus distance and f-stop continuously. They think quickly before they shoot. Then they are excellent at editing. Which anyone who really knows photography is more then half the battle. The pictures are compelling and are pretty terrific. Cohen’s work is over twenty to thirty years old. Gilden is in his seventies and shooting in Hati post earthquake. Wow! Most of these comments up here are sr hacks! We need more work like this. The only reason this looks outdated is because most shooters are way to passive and are simply sheep. Me included.

  • Max Silver

    A lot of people work in this style these days. It’s a more aggressive type of street photography. Not entirely different from grand Masters like Moriyama, for example. There’s also some lesser knowns doing a lot of this work like that Canadian photographer Michael Ernest Sweet. I think he’s doing a lot of this now in New York City. It’s good photography in that it is different but it must be confrontational even dangerous at times I would think. I wouldn’t risk a Leica in this situation that’s for sure.

  • James Donahue

    With all his success, this guy laughs all the way to the BANK. I love the way he does street.

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