Portrait of Portraits of acid attack survivors from Bangladesh. (Photo by Ken Hermann, Getty Images/171889832)

A creative photographer with work in two worlds: Ken Hermann

July 10, 2013 | By Gemma Fletcher | Creative

Ken Hermann’s work straddles two very unique worlds. When at home in Copenhagen, he works on advertising campaigns for a range of clients and collaborates with Getty Images to create premium imagery. Meanwhile, in his personal work, Ken travels to remote parts of the world to document and bring attention to individuals living on the fringes of their communities.

Following his series on the tribes in Omo Valley, Ethiopia, and his work documenting both coal miners and the Kumbh Mela holy men in India, earlier this year Ken traveled to Bangladesh, to focus on acid attack survivors there.

Drawing attention to the positive and aesthetic aspects of these otherwise tragic stories, Ken has created a portrait series exploring the resilience of the mutilated victims. Through his work, he examines questions such as, “Can beauty prevail when innocent people are disfigured by acid attacks? Can they rise stronger than before, more empowered and determined?”

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Portrait of Portraits of acid attack survivors from Bangladesh. (Photo by Ken Hermann, Getty Images/171889832)

Portrait of Portraits of acid attack survivors from Bangladesh. (Photo by Ken Hermann, Getty Images/171889832)

New dreams and hopes

To acid attack survivors in Bangladesh, dreams and hopes are splintered in seconds. Medical treatments and surgeries are simply beyond their means. Instead, they go on living with marks of cruelty literally branded into their faces and bodies. Stigmatization follows, and rebuilding life and setting new goals for the future require both determination and strength.

Umma Aysha Siddike Nila is a woman of such qualities. She was still a teenager when her husband, then in his 30s, drowned her face with acid, because she refused to follow him to his home in Saudi Arabia. The acid has left an irrevocable trail across her beautiful face and forever put an end to her dreams of becoming an actor and dancer. Still, Nila refuses to see herself as a victim.

“I have nothing to hide. I look at myself and love myself for who I have become in spite of what I have suffered,” she says.

Nila has devoted her life to support other acid victims in her community. It is her contribution the enduring fight to reduce the number of acid attacks in Bangladesh and the culture that perpetuates the attacks.

Ken’s co-collaborator Videographer Tai Klan takes viewers even closer to the women portrayed in Ken’s photography with this short, moving documentary.

Editor’s note: Gemma Fletcher is a Senior Art Director for Getty Images. See her most recent “Space man” work with Ken Hermann on gettyimages.com.

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  • Anis Zarei

    This is so awesome for those of us struggling with two worlds or creativity.