Photography was just a hobby, but a very successful hobby, as John Cohen won the most important international awards and attracted the attention of Cecil Beaton C.B.E., Sir William Russell Flint R.A., Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., and Lady Clementine Spencer Churchill amongst others.
Painting with light is all about photographing projected images that surprisingly are not often projected on to a screen. John discovered the projector really is a ‘magic lantern’! Computers and digital images were unknown at the time when some of his finest pictures were created over 40 years ago. Yet they have stood up to the test of time and are still considered exceptional, making quite a statement!
It was by chance, seeing an image projected, partly on the curtains and wallpaper that started this unique art form. By moving the projector and focusing on to other objects, noting how they distorted the image and influenced the texture and shape, led to the idea of photographing what could be seen. Then by adding more projectors he was also able to blend different images too and so ‘painting with light’ began.
John started with an idea and experimented with various images, but sometimes something unforeseen happened, that sent him down a totally fresh route to create a very different picture than were originally planned, it is these ‘inspired accidents’ that have since turned out to be his very best works.
The London Salon Trophy
The first time this much coveted International artistic photography trophy had ever been awarded for a colour photograph was in 1967. Presented to John N. Cohen for his creation ‘Spirit of Spring’ he was also the youngest salon member ever to have received it. ‘Spirit of Spring’ was created by his own technique of ‘painting with light’ that enabled him to blend a portrait transparency with a negative of a tulip on the same emulsion. This technique involved photographing projected images that were not always projected on to a screen.
He subsequently had over 20 One-Man Exhibitions of his photography (some were sponsored by Kodak) 2 held in New York, 4 in London, The Edinburgh Festival and many other UK & USA Cities.
He received favourable reviews and comments in ‘The Times’, ‘Arts Review’, many other newspapers and photographic magazines.
His original ‘Painting With Light’ pictures intrigue and make quite a statement! Now his pictures are just becoming available for sale as limited editions.
“Indeed, since the photographic image is made by the action of light, truth to light is truth to the medium of photography! All John Cohen’s photographs are made, simply and solely, by the use of light. His magic is the magic of the luminous, his poetry is that of the chiaroscuro. The attractions of his work is all the greater for the purity of the photographic technique, and its appeal all the more universal for being couched in an imagery common to all men and intelligible to all.” Sir George F. Pollock Bt., M.A., F.R.P.S., F.R.S.A.
John uses ‘painting with light’ (rather than computer manipulation) to express ideas, or thoughts, rather than reality.
A free fully described article ‘The Magic Lantern’ of how to do it is available.