Based in Copenhagen, Denmark Ken Hermann works for a diverse range of clients amongst those leading brands, agencies and media corporations. Ken Hermann has a degree in advertising photography and his work has been published by a number of magazines and exhibited around the world. His City Surfer project made him the winner of Hasselblad Masters 2012.
An urge to explore photography has brought Ken around the world, from secluded regions of India and Ethiopia to the big city landscapes of New York where he has worked for renowned photographers like Brigitte Lacombe and Asger Carlsen. The life in the cities as well as in the more abandon places is a big inspirational source to Ken Hermann and he loves to combine his commercial work with his other true passion- to explore life, people, and cultures. Ken Hermann works in the fields of portrait, editorial – and commercial Photography.
The Beauty of the Omo Valley is a series of portraits of some of Africa’s vanishing tribes. As the title suggests, my ambition with this project was to capture the beauty of these often very primitive peoples – and the environment they live in.
What particularly fascinates me about Omo Valley is the tribes who live in harmony with the beautifull unspoilt nature. The tribal people live as they have done for the past millennium without much contact with civilization. – It means, for example that there is no running water, electricity, sewerage and shopping. Therefore, the tribal people usually walk around naked or with only a blanket around them. One of the most well-known tribes is the mushi tribe. They are the ones where the women adorn themselves by putting a plate in their lips. I got two different explanations why the women adorn themselves like this. One is that they get a plate in their mouth when the girls get married which gradually is replaces by a bigger one for the simple reason not to to appear attractive to other men. The more official version is that the bigger the plate the more prestige and wealth the familly have.
The biggest challenge of the trip was that the tribes live so isolated and far from civilization. To get to Omo Valley I hired a car with a driver and guide in the capital Addis Abbaba. Everything I needed on the trip was bought in Addis Abbaba and carried along as there are only small local markets in the tribal area. I traveled around with camping equipment, power generator, food and water for the whole trip. To drive a few miles in the area can take several hours because earth paths and dried rivers is used as roads. You are very dependent on nature and weather – and it is only possible to visit the tribal areas outside the rainy season. Have a look at the behind the scenes Video!
I have a degree in advertising photography and I use the same kind of technique when I travel to remote places like Ethiopia that I use on commercial assignment. I shoot all my pictures on medium format camera: I like the quality of the medium format I use Phase One 645 with a 40+ digital back.
I use broncolor lightning and when I travel I use the Move 1200 L which is a powerful battery generator that can be used even though I am far away from electricity. I like the look of the soft light, so I often use big softboxes even though it would be a lot easier with just an umbrella. On my last trip I used broncolors Para 88, which gives a beautiful light.
The downside is it that I always have to carry around a lot of heavy equipment and that it is some times difficult in remote places but it is important for me that the equipment is reliable and that it enables me to get the look I am aiming for.
There was quite a big reaction on all the equipment from the locals, some had never seen flash equipment before and got really scared of it – a few ran off into the bush, bot most of them came back after my guide explained them what it was all about. I usually test the light on my local guide so they can see that it is harmless. To make my book The Beauty of the Omo Valley I have been in the southern part of Omo 3 times. After my second time in Omo Valley I was contacted by the German book publisher Edition Panorama who wanted to make a book with my pictures.
I still have an urge to explore this amazing part of the world. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and photographed. And despite the major challenges of travelling in the area you can not take the beauty from Omo valley.
If you wish to buy the book, click here
Previous BLOG’s from Ken Hermann