Mark Cohen was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania where he lived and photographed for most of his life. His work was first exhibited in 1969 at the George Eastman House but came to prominence with his first solo exhibition at MoMA in 1973. Known primarily for his black and white images, Cohen was also a pioneer of the 1970s color movement.
Working in a “shoot-from-the-hip” style and making use of the legacy of street photographers from Eugène Atget to Garry Winogrand, Cohen flouts conventions of traditional portraiture. “There’s no conversation. I’m not interested in having to explain myself,” he has said. “I’m just using people on the street in the most transitory way.” Shooting in the gritty environs of working-class Pennsylvania, Cohen brought to street photography a literal and innovative closeness that came from his style of holding the camera at arm's length without looking through the viewfinder while using an unusually wide-angle lens.
Cohen is the recipient of two Guggenheim Grants and his work is in the collections of major museums throughout the world.