The Project

Contact lens portrait project, int.l

The Badlands National Park, SD: Constellation
Staten Island, NY
Beijing, China
Long Island City, NY
Brooklyn, NY: Coney Island
Tibet, en-route to Qomolangma
CONTACT LENS: Wall, South Dakota
CONTACT LENS: Interior, South Dakota (Lilian)
CONTACT LENS: Wall, South Dakota
Beijing, China

The CONTACT LENS endeavor is an ongoing environmental-portrait project initiated in 1990 by artist/writer Gary Joseph Cohen. The project spans across the United States, China, Tibet, Mongolia, South Korea, France, Italy, Israel, and continues to expand daily. As the title suggests, CONTACT LENS alludes to the role photography plays in our lives by bringing people and places into sharper focus. It also alludes to the "corrective process" image-making shepherds by bridging distal experiences into contact with one another while maintaining mutual sovereignties.

Environmental portraiture is best defined by its past and present practitioners: August Sander, Diane Arbus, Arnold Newman, and contemporary artist Dudley Edmondson palimpsest an exhaustive list.

The intimate narrative thread that connects person to place, and place to person is in essence The Essence. A majority of Gary Joseph Cohen's CONTACT LENS subjects are complete strangers to him, and are often only passing through the camera's chosen stage at that given moment. For more information on his praxis, please consider visiting:

Gary Joseph Cohen is a published photographer and writer, as well as a veteran educator with 20+ years experience. His photographic works have been published and/or archived in Versal Magazine (Amsterdam); The Pinch Journal; The Blue Earth Review; World Vision (China); Ancora Imparo (; and elsewhere.

Literary credits include: Best New Poets 2005 & 2006; Euphony; Heliotrope; New Orleans Review; Parthenon West Review; Isotope Journal of Literary Science and Nature; Lana Turner Journal of Poetry and Opinion; and elsewhere.

In 2003, Cohen served as The Badlands Artist-in-Residence, contributing a portion of his manuscript to The National Park Service's permanent collection. ( )

His first monograph CONTACT LENS can be found on ( The environmental-portrait project showcases select environmental portrait work from Gary Joseph Cohen's ramblings around China, Korea, Tibet and the US. The deliberate double-page pairings of portraits propose what-if encounters between complete strangers, with implicit and/or explicit affinities and dissonances charging the atmosphere. The images in this tome span roughly from 2008 to 2010, and are the manifestation of a rapid expansion and contraction of time, place and space (geographical and personal).

Images from the CONTACT LENS, Int. are drawn from Cohen's ever-increasing archive. Please consider "Liking" this page to stay in CONTACT:

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6 responses

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (9 Nov 2013):

    Very impressive photo essay and collection of portraits...You have my votes.

  • JPG

    JPG gave props (17 Nov 2013):

    Congrats on getting Story of the Week!

  • Carol Arntsen Masiak

    Carol Arntsen Masiak gave props (18 Nov 2013):

    Congrats on story of the week and your vision and talent!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (21 Nov 2013):

    Hell YEAH! Rad!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (21 Nov 2013):

    Congrats on making Story of the Week!

  • Gary Joseph Cohen

    Gary Joseph Cohen said (28 Nov 2013):

    Thank you all so much! Always an honor.


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