Leo Kogan

“WHAT IS INTIMACY?” is about capturing moments of intimacy between friends, family, and strangers. I seek out images of what a healthy relationship should and could look like, from an outside observer’s perspective, while also capturing the human need for intimacy and love that many people desire. Nan Goldin has been a great influence on me. In her book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Goldin tells a story of the struggle for intimacy among her friends and lovers.

Until recently, I had not been exposed to a healthy romantic relationship in my own life, either through my parents, who divorced when I was very young, or in my own personal life, in which I have never been in a romantic relationship of my own. As I was growing up, both of my parents cycled through multiple partners after they separated. I've had to learn to care for these distant, temporary people in my life. Then once they left, I had to learn how to move on and forget about the short, intimate relationship I shared with these individuals. Now that both of my parents are currently in more stable loving relationships, I am seeing how they love and care for their romantic partners. In the process of making this project, I have been granted small windows into what it means to love and I have learned why we as humans try to hold onto the gift of the short, intimate moments that we are given in life.


Brooklyn-based photographer Leo Kogan began photographing in the summer of 2019, after his mother, a former war photographer, gave him her old Leica. Ever since, Leo has focused on the nexus between street photography, narrative, and psychology, with an intent to capture a larger human story in a single image. Who are these characters? What has he captured of their struggles, loves, and lives? He seeks intimacy, but not with his subjects. Rather he is a bystander to their intimacies, to their environment. His method is to stay discreet, unseen, so as not to disturb life as it happens, candidly.