DPP Home Profiles Parish Kohanim - Split Personality

Friday, September 28, 2007

Parish Kohanim - Split Personality

Parish Kohanim embraces a variety of genres as he captivates and ensnares his viewers. His images are bold, dramatic, vibrant and whimsical—and he always delivers the goods.

“I had some tulips that I grabbed out of the vase to throw out,” he says, “and I said, ‘Wow!' There was this beautiful light coming out of my window, and I put them on this painted brown background and in minutes I shot it. In the right light, that became beautiful. It's how we choose to look at beauty in our lives. We can take some of the most mundane things and make them beautiful the way we look at them.”

Choosing to see beauty is the crux of Kohanim's vision. While he doesn't turn a blind eye to negativity in the world, he feels the need to counteract all the bleak imagery in our society to focus on bringing more beauty into the world. Surprisingly, he has found a backlash against his love for beauty, but because it's motivated by a personal vision, Kohanim refuses to compromise.

“Do I need to apologize because I want to shoot beautiful things and beautiful people?” he asks. “That's all I see. It's not that I turn my face from the disturbing things around us; the media does a great job of bringing it in front of our faces all the time. I'm inspired by beauty, so I photograph people in a sculptural way that pleases me.”

On a recent visit to Kohanim's studio, the photographer Gregory Heisler shared his thoughts on the art world and Kohanim's contrary relationship to the prevailing themes that are seen in many contemporary galleries.

“He said, you know what the definition of art is?” Kohanim explains. “You take a photograph, throw it on the floor and step on it and take it on the sidewalk and rub it against the asphalt and then you go to the gallery and they say that's art. God forbid if you shoot something beautiful or colorful. What's wrong with color? What's wrong with beauty? I don't care about the trends. I never followed trends; I just kept the same. And maybe I could have made a lot more money, but ultimately you can't lie to yourself. I just keep doing what I do and hopefully it will turn around and we'll realize that we really need this beauty in our lives, and we need to connect with that beauty because that's such an important part of our being.”

Adds Kohanim, “I always say that what I do as a photographer isn't going to change the world, but I just feel compelled that I need to document it. When you document it, you've frozen that moment and you're sharing it with other people. It will never come back again, that moment. I'm not trying to put a lot of importance to what I do. I put my heart and soul into it; my passion.”


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