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Cobra Snake is young, making money and still using coupons


Mark Hunter (a.k.a. the Cobra Snake, with Karl Lagerfeld, left) grew up in L.A. and went to Santa Monica High School. But your average 20-something he is not. Some would describe the 24-year-old as the definitive photographer of hipster culture worldwide.

Getting his start as an assistant to Shepard Fairey, the young photographer quickly became immersed in the creative worlds of haute couture and club kids. He has met, partied with and photographed celebrities. Now he works alongside them and considers many of them his friends.

On his website, where he sells his photos and clothing, he has posted a tribute to DJ AM — with photos of the deejay smiling, working and hanging out. And although he's quiet about the topic of Adam Goldstein, he dishes about just about anything else — except how much he earns from taking photographs of other people.

Hunter chatted with us about his dream life, what he’s wearing, and what’s next:

Cobra-snake-balloons When’s your birthday? July 21, 1985

Your sign?
I’m on the cusp, but I’m a Cancer.

You’re very young and yet you’ve achieved a lot. Do you already feel as if you’ve seen and done it all?
No way. I’m just beginning. I’ve got so many other cool things I’m trying and working on. I’m really excited about life.

Can you talk about those cool things you’re working on?
One is that I’m working with RVCA [the surf and skateboard line] and we’re doing a collection with pieces of clothing that I designed.

What kind of clothes? Men’s? Women’s?
Fun button-ups, crazy jeans. It’s good for everyone. It’s wild and crazy like me.

Speaking of clothes, it’s been said that you dress badly and that you will wear absolutely anything. Why is that?
I’m so aware of fashion and trends. I’ve photographed New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and other fashion-type things. I digest all that and I just do whatever I want.

Is there anything you wouldn’t wear?
No. I find irony in everything. I’ve worn Ed Hardy on occasion. It was my Halloween costume. I wear Crocs out. I get made fun of for that.

What are you wearing right now?
Right now, I’m about to go to Hurricane Harbor or Raging Waters — whichever one has better coupons. So, I’m getting my beach look on.

I’m pretty sure you are doing fairly well financially. You still use coupons?
I love coupons.

What are your dreams?
To continue to be creative and sort of push the boundaries. This whole thing has been ridiculous for me. I got into meetings with big corporate companies and I’m on the agenda as “Cobra Snake.” It’s crazy.

Cobra-Snake-Tub Cory Kennedy. You helped her get her start. What made her stand out among models/subjects?
She has amazing personal style — mixing things you would never think could work, and she makes them look great. Along with her carefree personality. She is a very magical person.

And what about your beginnings. How did you get started in your business?
I was working for Shepard Fairey for a couple of years as his assistant. He was introducing me to a lot of cool parties and art events. Events where Bjork would be deejaying and things like that. I recognized that this is special, so I would take pictures. People would say things to me like, “Hey I didn’t bring my digital camera tonight. Can you e-mail me some pictures you took?” So I would e-mail the photos. Eventually I set up a website called Polaroid Scene.

What kind of camera do you use?
I never talk about my camera. Everyone has been trying to rip me off.

Do you have a work routine? Things you do to get yourself ready?
It’s hard because I’m preparing myself for many different climates and I never know what I’m getting myself into. I’ll do a keys, wallet, cellphone check. Camera, extra batteries.

Favorite drink?

Do you have a favorite night club?
Not really. Cinespace in Hollywood.

Talk about club culture. How has it changed since you’ve been photographing it?
It continues to evolve. Kids are finding the same music off blogs. Kids in Australia can listen to the same music they do here in L.A. because of the Internet. It’s a crazy international party scene.

You’re from L.A. Like many photographers and other creative artists, did you ever do the bi-coastal thing, splitting time between here and New York?
Yeah, I shared an apartment with Steve Aoki in New York for about two years. For a while, I focused a lot of energy on building a fan base in New York. Now it’s more international cities.

You’re all over the world now. What’s your favorite city?
I like Sydney. I like Paris. I like Tokyo. It’s so hard for me to pick. I’ve gone to Argentina with Toms Shoes and did a shoe drop. Giving shoes to those who don’t have them. It’s not always about partying.

Do you photograph bat mitzvahs and bar mitzvahs?
Yes. Also weddings and birthday parties and Sweet 16s.

How many assistants do you have?
I have an amazing team of about 10 people that help me with everything. From running the Cobra Shop, my online store, to helping with photo shoots, art shows and castings. We also go on team hikes and bike rides.

-- Lori Kozlowski

Photos: Cobra Snake

Comments () | Archives (34)

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i love how he states "art shows". saying his photography is art is like saying McDonald's is cuisine. I could tie a 4x5 camera to the side of a cow with a timer affixed, have nicholas nixon edit the images, and put a show together. that doesn't make it art nor the cow an artist. rewarding this uniformed snapshot photographer with the moniker artist is misguided and an insult to actual image makers. why not say flickr is the new saatchi collection?

When did Lagerfeld morph into the crypt keeper?


I think the first post is just jealous! He has a fun life....and obviously has struck some chord...

This guy is a joke, a poseur and terrible photographer.


Just when you thought "ugly is the new beauty" it turns out "stupid is the new artistic genius".

I'm sorry. Am I missing something? Why is this guy famous? or talented? His pictures look like crap to me.

If that fellow is 24 he needs to find a good moisturizer and get some sleep. He's looking rough.

Cobra Snake rules.

C. Snake's art and philosophy is an asset to the fashion and photography world. More power to him!
Aside to R. Murrdock et al.: What?? A camera attached to a cow could possibly make some interesting, original art - I agree, it wouldn't make the cow an artist, that burden would rest on your shoulders.


well said roger murrdock. thanks

I couldn't agree more with RM, I've seen his so called "Work" in PAPER Magazine before because they evidently love him there but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary in his photos that prompted me to say wow! He's no Thierry Mugler or Richard Avedon yet, you've got a long way to go kid. In the immortal words of Han Solo "Kid Don't get Cocky"!!

take your medication and go back to your room. you scare me!

The haters are transparently jealous.

I love Karl Lagerfeld, but whats with the driving gloves...does he have something sinister in mind for the "Cobra Snake". Tune in next time kids for the exciting conclusion of who choked the snake!!

He is a very cool man.

honestly, speaking as someone who actually knows mark, he doesn't preach himself as being gods gift to photography. everyone else has been giving him that title. if you ask him if he thinks he's a good photographer, he says he's still learning. his care free attitude, style and photographs are the perfect example of what's current in society. life is too short to take yourself so seriously guys..

What kind of camera do you use?
I never talk about my camera. Everyone has been trying to rip me off.


Canon 5D and now Canon 5d mark 2 . . . CANON 28mm f/1.8 USM Wide Angle Lens and the 220ex flash now the 270ex flash . . . point and shoot drunk people or cool people. Its art

Those who "don't get it" don't understand what sort of movement he created in the party scene. Every party I go to, there are at least a couple of photographers trying to be Cobrasnake.

And Roger, you probably don't get it because you are more concerned with collecting cheesy Ansel Adams photographs to hang on your wall. I wouldn't exactly compare cobrasnake to mcdonalds. Be happy for the guy.

I've known about the Cobra Snake for a number of years. I thought Mark was in his mid to late 30s.


Dude, this guy created nothing. FYI: Party photographers have existed for decades.

Just b/c the dude buys a camera and pushes the button doesn't mean he has talent. This guy literally makes photography look bad.

If you want cheesy, this guy is Velveeta.

Oh, and BTW - NOT jealous, thank you. Just tired of this idiot.

I guess you can call me jealous or a hater, but at the same time I'm actually happy for this guy, he's been very lucky. But remember - it's just that - luck. There's no ability or talent in what he does. I've found from living/working in LA that talent has almost nothing whatsoever to do with success. You just need to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, or mooch off the right people.

ROUGH doesn't quite cover it. He looks like Ron Jeremy's spawn put through the spin cycle.

As for not talking about his camera gear, that's weak. If you have skills, you don't need to hide what's in your kit.

It's cool he's found success and a niche. Hopefully he truly does capitalize and expand his business dealings so that when this "scene" is over, he's still got some way to make a living.

i<3 cobra snake

keep on hating, haters, only going to make him more famous!

FOREVER my creative inspiration, and cant wait for him to step foot in Australia later this year!!!! xoxoxo

Another West L.A. trustfund kid gets an advert in the LA TIME living section... what's going on here? First Maxim Ludwig, now this clown? Who is the editor of this section and how much money do they receive from Maxim and Mark's rich daddies? I can't wait till this stupid paper fails completely.

Dear god he's so ugly! Why do all those highschool girls love him so much?

by the way lauren inches, you're an idiot. be sure to stay in australia because we don't need more aussie trash like you in los angeles

I kept thinking Cobra Snake was some lame hair-farmer band from the 80's. Now I see there isn't even anything as exciting as that - yet the Times has been hyping this guy for months.

Heads up LA Times... this guy's no Andy Wharhol. But he certainly seems to like 12-15 year old girls.......

Fabulous Fashion article! Fashion and Modeling has influenced every person so much so that it has become the IT career. For styling tips and assistance for your portfolio and enhancing your image, through fashion styling@866-565-7541

Mark "The CobraSnake" Hunter serves as an inspiration to those who still think it is possible to get paid to be yourself. Rock on, Mark! -- The Sandman Loveth -- #SLOAFNOWTONGO

He uses an alright Canon DSLR. Plus, if you wanted to copy him all you need is a flash and DSLR a camera or a G10/11 and you can get the same quality. Nothing spectacular. Meh. #realtalk

Glad to see the coverage of The Cobra Snake from back in the day. He's still going strong all over LA, even into 2011. I ran into his printer the other day and he said that TCS has a new design coming out. Looks something like: in all white on black with a real 80s metal edge to it.


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