Ken Ohara

( born 1942) is a renowned Japanese photographer.
Ohara Ken is most noted for his series of photographs titled "One", in which he presents faces with a standard size and tone. His work offers an intense examination of space and time in portraiture and provokes a rethinking of the limits of photographic depiction.

"I try not to photograph what 'we' think it should be but what 'it' is."


This book of 500 closed-up faces taken in New York in the 1960s. Classic photo book originally published in 1970.

Depending on how you look at it, you will find this book to be frightening or enlightening. In my case, it was the latter. It is a thick collection of 500 B/W photos of people's faces. As you can see on the book's cover, the face is closely cropped so that you only see the eyes, nose, and mouth. This is how it is for all the 500 faces. 

It is a monotonous and seemingly never-ending collection of humanity. They are people of all ages and races. The eyes, nose, and mouth are located at the same position on each page. Their individualism and differences disappear. It shows how people are really the same despite the differences we always see in each other. It also proves that the human face is much more that just the eyes, nose and mouth. 

When this book was first published in 1970, it caused a major stir in Japan's photography circles. It was quite shocking. In 1997, the book was reissued by Taschen in Germany. The original edition now fetches a premium price.

" With"

Ken Ohara's photographic series of one-hour exposure portraits create in their final form a new identity for each subject. The traditional evaluations we make of a portrait, ie “How do you look?” are lost in the blur of a passing hour. 

The soft outlines of heads and bodies take on a new power in their loss of detail, and we look to the objects that frame each sitter to give us a context for identity.

 Like Meatyard before him, Ohara's collective subjects create a wry and melancholy portrait of the absent artist.

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