The Joyful Approach introduces Eddie Cohen, a visionaire and artist way ahead of his years. I have known Eddie for quite a long time and it’s always enthralling to hear on what his latest project or adventure is. Eddie told me about an idea he had for capturing the runners in the NYC marathon before and after their run. As a runner myself having run many marathons, I know well about the transformation and range of emotional charge that takes place. Eddie is a brilliant photographer that captures the human in his raw authenticity. I am so grateful for him sharing this work with The Joyful Approach.
Eddie, can you give us a brief background; where are you from, where you grew up ..schooling?
Thank you for featuring the work — it’s exciting. I grew up in Brooklyn, I went to Penn undergrad to study business and product design. After school, I moved to California to work at Apple, and recently left to focus on art and photography full time.
You’ve been involved in some impressive projects since you graduated college, can you tell us about some of them?
Thanks! I’m just extremely curious and as a result have worked on a lot of different projects. Recently I collaborated on an Augmented Reality app for the iPhone called Dimension. It’s an app that lets people explore parallel worlds that exist in our reality.
Some other work I’ve been fortunate enough to work on: an alarm clock that teaches people to meditate, an app that transcribes your voice, an app that helps babies sleep, a smart TV that responds to movement, and a lot of other experiments that haven’t really seen the light of day.
You are quite the adventurer .. can you tell us about some of your most impactful travel adventures and why they were so profound for your journey?
I’ve been extremely fortunate that my parents encouraged me to travel at such a young age. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and lived abroad for extended amounts of time.
I’d say the three most impactful adventures I’ve had were: traveling with my grandfather to China when I was 14, going to Burning Man at 20, and traveling Asia at 22.
- When I was 14, my grandfather took me to China to visit marble and textile factories. It was an eye-opening experience that sparked my obsession with traveling and exploration.
- Burning Man was also pretty transformative. I went after my sophomore year of college and was exposed to a new way of thinking and being. For the first time ever, I was able to see “normal” people get weird. It was beautiful. After Burning Man, I learned to meditate, became obsessed with electronic music, and started to live more authentically to myself.
- When I graduated college, I went with some friends to travel Southeast Asia. After some time, I got restless and started a project. I got a white collapsible backdrop and took portraits of people. We’d meet people from all walks of life, get to know them, and I would take their portrait. The portraits were powerful and this project led to further exploration.
So, how did you fall in love with Photography?
I got a camera for my birthday when I was 14 and immediately fell in love with the medium.
Because I was familiar with technology, I was able to make a website and share my work. People responded well to the work and encouraged me to keep going. I continued to experiment on the side and only recently have spent time focused on making work.
I’m interested in the medium’s ability to convey ideas visually and share my perspective.
What is it that your drawn to with capturing a photograph?
My work revolves around extremes — people, places, and ideas — and aesthetics and beauty.
I try to capture sparks of life—the energy that motivates people to do exceptional things. Across the work, the goal is consistent: to reflect a subject’s unique spark, and perhaps, through that, help us all see the world a little differently.
As a marathoner myself, I’m fascinated by the concept of your most recent project with the New York City Marathon ..Can you please share what the concept of this project was about?
I was interested in capturing the simultaneous state of exhaustion and euphoria — something that’s uniquely present to marathon runners. The pictures are powerful because you can see raw emotion unfiltered.
Fun fact: I snuck into the race with an invalid bib and ran the first and last two miles of the race with all my gear.
What feels Joyful in your life now?
Most of my joy in life come from my relationships with my family, close friends, and compete strangers.