"Cohen has spent decades doing hit-and-run street photography in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His pictures are always taken from waist-height, and he’s taken 800,000 shots he’s never even seen.
His furtive shooting technique has always been laced with danger. One of his images is of a man, angered by the invasion of his personal space, swinging a punch at him [last image]. ’That type of interaction took a psychological toll over the years,’ he says. ‘I made a lot of nifty pictures by being that close to people. But after a while, I went to a wider lens. 28mm. Then 35mm. Now I’m at 50mm, so I feel very safe.’
But isn’t getting audaciously close, almost predatory, integral to his work? ‘The trespass makes it happen, yes,’ he says. ‘When you’re trying to make a new object, you’ve got to make something happen. And you learn to read people’s reactions quickly.’ After all these years, honing in on details to find images has become automatic.
'I get on a trolley and go to a specific intersection. I like to go to the same one 10 times, so I understand the texture of the neighborhood,' he says. As for Wilkes-Barre, he sees no need to dwell on it any more: 'The slice of America I've been looking at is everywhere.'”