Roeg Cohen is a photographer based in New York City whose portrait work has a simple elegance to it; less like a structured portrait and more like an intimate glimpse in to the life of the subject – like glancing up at the model and catching them mid-thought…
How long have you been shooting and what or who was it that first inspired you to take up photography?
The first time I picked up a camera with the intention of exploring photography was about 10 years ago. It was an epiphany more than anything; I had just moved to NYC and had a lot of creative energy. Photography was how I chose to use it.
I want my pictures to feel personal and for the viewer to wonder about the subject.
I really love your use of contrast and grain; tell us a bit about your aesthetic. What is it that you want your images to say?
I didn’t go to school for photography or study it beyond looking at work that I liked. Working with other photographers helped me learn lighting; that experience has been invaluable. My aesthetic developed by trial and error. I took pictures of everything when I first started teaching myself. I learned that I responded to intimate and thoughtful moments. I want my pictures to feel personal and for the viewer to wonder about the subject.
What are the contents of your camera bag on a typical shoot day?
It depends on what I’m shooting but I usually carry a digital camera, a 35mm film camera, and a Polaroid Land camera.
By keeping it conversational, you get organic, thoughtful moments as opposed to posing.
Your portraits have an amazingly relaxed, spontaneous feel about them; how do you achieve this? Give us a bit of an insight in to how you prepare for a portrait shoot and how you interact with your subjects during the sitting.
For me, it’s really important to be open and ego-less with a subject so they can relax. If they aren’t comfortable, then I’m not. I tend to talk a lot while I’m shooting… that helps break down any barriers a person might have and allow them to be vulnerable. By keeping it conversational, you get organic, thoughtful moments as opposed to posing.
What projects are you currently working on? What is next for you?
I have a few different projects going on at the moment. I’ve had a recent renaissance with Polaroid pack film. It’s getting harder and harder to find, so I want to capture the personal moments in my life with it while I can. I recently looked back on the Polaroids I had taken over a 5-6 year period and they really resonated as something special to me.
Another thing that has interested me lately is working with other artists that intrigue me; especially artists that are present in their own work. I find it interesting to see how the aesthetics of two artists congeal.
My longest project has been on Horses. I’ve been doing that for 7-8 years and I’m actually taking a break from it at the moment.
See more of Roeg’s work at:
All images copyright Roeg Cohen.