The Beauty of Omo Valley

In his Upcoming Book, Ken Hermann Photographs the Unique People and Scenery of The Ethiopian Omo Region

Omo Valley can be counted as one of the most intriguing places in Africa. It is home to an estimated 20, 000 tribal people, with some of them living in such remote locations that they have virtually no contact with the outside world. We now have the rare opportunity to view a wonderful and candid selection of images featuring the people in this area, with the release of Ken Hermann’s new book, The Beauty of Omo Valley.

Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Ken has taken three working trips to this part of Ethiopia, yet remains fascinated by it. ‘Omo is a place where not much has changed over the last 1000 years’ he told us. ‘What really fascinates me about Omo Valley is the tribes who live in harmony with the beautiful and unspoilt nature.’

His book will be published in august, and an exhibition will follow it. We asked Ken a little more about his work:

The Plus: How much direction did you give to the people in the shoots? -Or are their poses natural?
Ken Hermann:
I often give the people I photograph a lot of direction, because I always have some idea about the shoot in my head. If you bring your model to a different location, you need to give them direction and bring them back to a more neutral pose; otherwise it can end up pretty stiff. I always try to spot how people behave before I shoot. Sometimes you can recreate the same poses and it always looks good.

TP: How did the people react to you? Are they familiar with the technology you used, and with photographs?
The reaction in each place was very different: in some places they are used to tourists, but the more remote you go, the bigger reaction you get from the locals. A few times I even experienced the locals getting really afraid of my light equipment, so we had to shoot my guide first, so they could see it wasn’t dangerous.

TP: Did you give them any prints of themselves?
Yes, on my second and third trip I brought them prints of my previous shoots. It’s always a great pleasure to see their reactions when they get their own portrait on print.

TP: What photography equipment did you use?
I shoot on a PhaseOne 645 +40 camera and my lighting equipment is from Broncolor. I travel with the Move 1200 (batt. generator) and the Para88 reflector.

TP: What is one thing you learnt from doing this project that you will never forget?
I have learnt that happiness is not always a matter of money. In our western world we tend to be more material- but that is non-existent in a large part of Omo Valley.