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Shutterstock Portrait Series: Hannah Cohen at CreativeMornings/NewYork

For the last three years with Shutterstock, we worked with photographers to capture the spirit of CreativeMornings’ attendees in chapters around the world. Together, we’ve collected over 2,000 portraits.

A good portrait tells the truth about a person in that moment in time—not the whole truth, but close to it. It’s an intimate dynamic that requires connection, patience, and acuity of the subject’s spirit.

We interviewed each talented photographer to learn to see what they see when they raise the camera.

Meet Hannah Cohen, Brooklyn-based freelance wedding, lifestyle, and portrait photographer. She has also volunteers for CreativeMornings/NewYork!

What is it about portraiture that inspires you?

“When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.” - Annie Leibovitz

I love collaborating with portrait subjects to create the time and space for an honest, intimate moment. These moments lend themselves to portraits that hopefully showcase a bit of that person’s energy and personality in an arresting way. I am endlessly curious about the world and portraiture creates the opportunity to capture and study individuals whom inspire me.

Portraiture is a personal exchange—how do you get your subjects to open up? What do you say or do?

Every portrait session is unique to the next. I spend a lot of time observing and researching my subjects so that I can find a unique angle to help showcase their persona and story in a new way. Sometimes, it’s a matter of finding an environment that they have a strong connection to. Other times, I’ll ask my subjects about their hobbies and interests, and try to bring details of those interests into their shoot.


At what moment do you know you successfully captured someone’s spirit or personality? How do you know?

I think a strong portrait speaks for itself. I strive to make imagery that feels iconic and pulls viewers in. I want my portrait subjects to feel a sense of pride when sharing their images to friends, colleagues, and future generations. Hopefully, the portrait reveals a side of them that they don’t often get to share with the world.

What advice would you give to people just picking up a camera, ready to explore the wonderful art of photography?

Keep a camera on you at all times! It could be your iPhone camera or a DSLR. You never know when you’ll be inspired. I recommend shooting moments and stories that move you. So long as you’re passionate about the story you’re trying to tell, the rest will come naturally.

See more of the CreativeMornings/NewYork portraits.

Discover more of Hannah’s work on her website and Instagram.

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