We had the good fortune of connecting with MARTIN COHEN and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi MARTIN, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“Never for an instant forget the effort to renew your life, to build yourself anew. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway of life itself. This is not an easy task. Indeed, it may be the most severely challenging struggle there is. For opening the door to your own life is in the end more difficult than opening the door to all the mysteries of the universe.” Daisaku Ikeda
I just love this quote, it has a permanent place on my Buddhist altar. It reminds me that no matter the circumstances, it’s up to me to make sense of life and give it meaning. If I choose the path of an artist – or any path, for that matter – I need to stay on the road of self discovery and put in my effort on a daily basis. Especially during this challenging period of Covid-19, it’s easy to fall into a state of apathy. There is no greater force than resilience, our ability to adapt and choose for a proactive and creative life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always chosen for the things I loved to do, never held a steady job in my life. I have traveled a lot, often with my camera, and I have been blessed with great friends. I have acted and directed film and theatre, I have taken tens of thousands of photographs, many of which were published or exhibited in galleries worldwide and one famous museum in Buenos Aires (Palais de Glace). I spent long nights with my telescopes under the stars and for the past years I got serious about singing. Not a boring moment – but certainly plenty of challenges. Since I tend to favor playtime over money, the bucks mostly came and went. I can’t exactly say I have built a secure existence for myself, but surely an adventurous one. And to some extent, security is an illusion. All we have is this moment. I am proud of my images of Cuba and Africa as well as my astrophotography. In my portraits, I usually work with natural light. I enjoy the response I get to my images – we all have our own unique way of looking at things. And after forty years of taking photographs I am slowly coming to accept myself as a seasoned professional with a special gift. It’s about time!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love nature and there are many beautiful places within a couple of hours driving distance from Los Angeles. The ocean is right in front of my Santa Monica studio and a nice beach walk and/or swim would be a great start. Driving up the coast along the PCH in the late afternoon is a total treat and then we’ll have Margaritas at my studio and dinner at a small Caribbean joint with great food where you can bring your own beer or wine: Cha Cha Chicken on Pico and Ocean Avenue. Or we can go more upscale at a fantastic little French place called Le Petit Café on Colorado and Stewart Street – unfortunately I just found out they are closed due to Covid-19. New owners dubbed it La Petit Chez Mimi so now there’s some excellent French take-out food. Worth a try! Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite spots in the desert, fantastic hiking, gorgeous night views of the Milky Way in summer and fall. Another remarkable place not too far from there: the Trona Pinnacles, totally worth a visit – https://www.blm.gov/visit/trona-pinnacles. Big Bear Lake is another favorite of mine, often there is snow. If you like snowboarding, skiing or just hiking in the mountains or along the lake, you can rent a rustic cabin with a fireplace away from the town at Cienaga Creek Ranch. I have done it numerous times, highly recommended.. Ojai Valley is gorgeous as well and the Krishnamurti Educational Center has a wonderful library and beautiful grounds. Back to Los Angeles: the Getty Museum is an absolute must, for its architecture as well as its expansive art collection. They always have special photography exhibitions. The Griffith Observatory is definitely worth a visit as well. So much is closed right now due to Covid-19, so going out in nature is your best bet.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Too many people to mention them all: my father, who secured my broad education and stimulated my scientific interests as I grew up in Amsterdam, Holland; my mom, who raised her three children with love and affection; my dear friend Andrew Dunbar, whose amazing photographic talent and positive attitude will always stay with me; my mentor in life Daisaku Ikeda who is responsible for opening the road to my three decades of Buddhist practice; countless friends and teachers, lovers, my ex-wife Carolina, whose determination resulted in the most prestigious exhibition of my photographic career – shall I go on?
Other: http://www.martincohenphotography.com/ http://interiors.martincohenphotography.com/
All photographs by Martin Cohen, Copyright 2020.