Damaged / Goods: Brad, where do you live?

Brad Cohen:  I live in Venice. I've been here for the past 15 or so years. To say I love the ocean is an understatement. It feeds my soul. As long as I'm in LA, I can't really imagine living anywhere but Venice. I have to be by the sea. That said, Venice has changed a lot over the past 5 years and not for the better. It's a bitter sweet place to live.

Damaged: When did you start getting serious about taking pictures?

Brad: Truth told, I've been shooting a long time. But honesty can't say I got serious until about 2 years ago. I fell into it in my mid 20's, (I'm 42 now) I was studio managing for an advertising photographer by the name of Aaron Rapoport. He was cool, he gave me free reign over the studio and gear. Managing the studio was my day gig. By night and by all other means I was a musician, passionately pursuing my dream. Photography was something I did on the side...Growing up in LA has its advantages, you get to grow up with dynamic people. I went to high school with James Perse. We worked together on and off while he grew the biz, at a certain point he needed an in house photographer. I got the job. I was 34 when I started for him. Did that faithfully for 8 years. It was photography school for me in a lot of ways. I took it very seriously, learned a lot, I became technically masterful. That gig ended in early 2015. That's when I decided truly to be a photographer. To me, being a photographer means a lot more than being someone that takes pictures. Or is technically proficient at taking photos. Being a photographer is lifestyle. It's an endless exploration of seeing. Witnessing and cultivating. Inspiring and instigating. To capture moments as they occur and be able to create and recreate moments to occur in front of the lens. And have it all appear effortless and real. That's the job as I see it. Breathe life into a moment and then capture it.

Damaged: Did you go to school to study photography?

Brad: School never worked for me. I have to learn everything the hard way. By failing, and then having the courage to try again.

Damaged: Please tell us what you define as a versatility in your approach?

Brad: Versatility is my approach. I love more than anything being handed a set of circumstances or parameters or resources and then being let loose to create. And at the end of the day, I think my success is directly correlated to my ability to adapt my techniques to any given set of circumstances. My process is as much a self exploration as it is a job. How can I connect. How can I inspire. How can I bring authenticity to this image and the next. So in that way, all jobs or photo shoots. Whether personal or for a client are the same. It's the same pursuit.

Damaged: You have an extensive portfolio of clients in the Fashion industry. How did you first get your foot in the door?

Brad: I touched on this before... and we've all heard it before. And it's just true. Right place, l mright time. And who ya know. And I want to add it's not just who you're born to know. This biz, like all, is about relationships. I resisted this reality for a long time. Didn't want to have to "sell" myself. Didn't realize it's not that at all. Now I fully embrace and love it. You gotta get out there and meet people. Talk to people. Charm people. Make people smile. It works. 

Damaged: What is your take on the hyper sexualization of the female body in American culture?

Brad: I'll admit to being a bit hyper-sexualized myself so there is an adolescent part of me that doesn't hate it. That said. My rational mature mind thinks it's dangerous for our youth. I think that intimacy carries with it a responsibility that kids don't understand. And I think there is a gross desensitization that goes along with the proliferation of the hyper sexualized female image. It's clearly a slippery slope and I'm not sure where it ends.

Damaged:  We’re living in great times, especially for creatives to live in and thrive LA If you had full creative control, what would be your ideal creative concept and for what brand? 

Brad: I'd love to shoot a series of images during child birth. Visuals that depict the power and beauty of the moment. I certainly wouldn't want to sterilize the imagery but I see it cast in a glow of purity and possibility. And the light. In a perfect radiant light. Shot for Apple?

Damaged: Do you prefer to shoot in studio or in a more organic environment and if so why?

Brad: I spent a lot of time in the studio shooting for James Perse. I feel very comfortable in that environment. I love the precision you can attain. The total control over all the aspects of an image. That said, the variables a location can offer I find way more interesting. I love the unexpected. I love to discover on the fly. I love the daylight.

Damaged: What is your ultimate career goal ?

Brad: My ultimate career goal is simple. To have a relevant voice in the visual conversation. To be turned to again and again by the top tier in the industry. As much for the images I can create as the experience you have working with me. I like to have fun. I like to collaborate. I like to inspire and empower people I work with to show up with the best they've got.

Damaged: Who are your main influences on your work?

Brad: When it comes to influences, I don't like to look to much at what is going on around me. I find it distracts me from discovering what my true voice is. Who am I as a photographer, that's what I aim to discover.

Damaged: Please tell us how in your opinion, simplicity amplifies a brand?

Brad: I think simplicity amplifies a brand because you're essentially distilling things to their essence. Cutting through the noise and trends. Speaking a language that resonates indefinitely. There's power in simplicity If you can pull it off in a dynamic and authentic way. I think it takes a lot of courage and restraint to keep it simple. In the end, I think it can speak very loudly and shine above the creative screaming for your attention.

Damaged: Is there a message that you are trying to convey through your visuals?

Brad: I'm working very very hard at identifying a discernible message in my imagery. I know it has a lot to do with love and hope, and presence and authenticity. It's about beauty and grace, it's about the future and a not so distant past.

Damaged: What was your inspiration behind this story?

Brad: I shot this story in a alley in my neighborhood in Venice. As a lot of personal work does, it started with a piece of clothing. I secretly (secrets out) love to shop for women's vintage. I think I kinda have a knack for it. And it's all about the image I'm going for to create with it. I find inspiration in a beautiful garment. I had worked with Anna before and I knew she could where this body suit well. Really bring it to life. The girl can move. I love working with her. I've been exploring the alleys in my neighborhood. I've had success shooting in this environment before and wanted to do it again. There is something distinctly SoCal about it to me.

Damaged: Does music have an influence on your creative work?

Brad: It took me awhile to figure this one out which is so strange to me being a musician. But music is huge. On this shoot, I played one beautiful track by Howie Beck throughout the whole shoot. The mood was set, I felt it, she felt it, it made the process effortless. I really like dialing in one track, one that feels like it captured the movement and feeling I want. And then just let it play on loop.

Damaged: What is your ultimate career goal ?

Brad: I'd love to shoot a series of images during child birth. Visuals depicting the power and beauty of the moment. I certainly wouldn't want to sterilize the imagery but I see it cast in a glow of purity and possibility. And the light. In a perfect radiant light. Shoot for Apple?

What’s your damage?

Brad: Caring way to fucking much. But pretending like I don't.


Photography @bradmitchellcohen
Model @anna_iaryn with @msamodels