Idan Cohen on How Photography Hobby Teaches Point of View

In Chapter 6 of 19 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Boxee co-founder and head of product Idan Cohen answers "What Role Does Photography Play in Your Life?"  Cohen begins by providing background on early photography experiences at school and with his father.  Even then, his photos were about his surroundings and random people.  Many years later while studying art and photography at university, Cohen finds value capturing memories and moments as trophies in the same ways hunters covet and display their kills. 

This is Idan Cohen's Year 1 Capture Your Flag interview.  Cohen is co-founder and head of product at Boxee Inc, an online video software company.  Previous to Boxee, Cohen held telecom software innovation and developer roles at Comverse.  He was a Captain in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and graduated from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Geophysics and Art.


Erik Michielsen: What role does photography play in your life?

Idan Cohen: I was never really into photography, my father really loved photography and like I remember myself, so 1st grade, we went on the first kind of field trip with our class and he gave me one of his old cameras with a roll of film, and it’s funny, I still have that roll of film, and it’s very weird the photos that I took at that field trip. And I remember that I got back, and I think that my mother looked at those photos or my brother, it wasn’t my father, like my mother or my brother, and they said, this is completely useless. 

But then I look at it now, and it’s not useless at all, it’s like exactly what I was interested in, and it was—a lot of it was about people, other people, so it’s really weird because it’s this roll of film that’s just random people that was around me, it wasn’t even my classmates, it was just—it was in the zoo and it was people that were in the zoo. It was very weird. And then, about 20 years later, I was going—I was in university and I was studying art and I took this photography class, and I got a camera and I started getting back into it. 

It was a very active—it was photography history but for me, that was enough, I never learned technically how to take photos. So for me, photography is about coveting images, it’s about being really greedy with what I see around me and wanting to just have it for myself. So if I see an image that I like, I wanna have that. And it’s a way for me to freeze time, if it’s a beautiful girl, if it’s a beautiful situation, if it’s a kid that’s doing something that I’m excited about, if it’s just an ironic situation, I just wanna have that. 

And so I see it very much like the modern—that’s the modern version of hunters. Because, you know, hunters would go and they coveted these animals to put them on their walls as trophies, and for me, that’s these trophies of what I see with my eyes. And that’s how I see photography.