Teen Families
1000 families book cover

Presentation 1000 Families

Uwe Ommer spent four years making the largest and most beautiful kaleidoscope there has ever been. A focusing screen, a tube, a mirror, a lens, the odd trick – the system is rudimentary and has filled us with wonder for centuries. But if it is magic, what actually intrigues us is not the system but the infinite number of combinations it can produce based on surprisingly simple materials.

Uwe has gleaned these materials along the way, during his many encounters. The fact is, he was acquainted with them before: he’s been photographing people for 30 years and more, because it’s in his blood.

Look at these faces, and you will rediscover a grandmother, a friend, or an uncle in people you imagine a thousand leagues from you. You’ll see how close we all are – alike and yet so different. This experience will teach us to look at other people through different eyes, and not get stuck on the accessory that stops us seeing by making things far too simple. Look at all these details which create a diversity other than that of prejudices and barriers. It took Uwe’s loving eye to make this portrait of humankind at the dawn of the new millennium. I’ve been turning Uwe’s kaleidoscope for four years now. I haven’t got tired of turning it, and every time I do, I’m the richer for it.

Olivier Delahaye Paris, May 2000

The Story of a Journey

“A family album for our planet … what a wonderful, simple idea!” exclaimed my friends, adding (not without a tinge of envy) “and what’s more, you’ll have to go round the world.”
So, on the hunch that they could well be right, I set off to

- lose my first bet, and find funds and sponsors easily
- buy an indestructible vehicle
- drive nearly 160,000 miles on roads and tracks and across fields all over the world
- sleep in hundreds of hotels and other distinctly less salubrious places
- lose a lot of weight
- break and repair everything that makes a vehicle work (even an indestructible one)
- see my hair turn white
- fight tireless mosquitoes
- get married in Las Vegas
- drive carefully on the left, or the right, or in the middle, as local custom demanded
- treat everything uniformed with kid gloves, in all five continents
- encounter highway bandits and robbers
- make friends
- set infants wailing who aren’t used to “pale-faced” and “long-nosed” strangers
- try to get an elephant to smile
- use up thousands of films of every kind and format
- endure and make countless toasts to everyone’s success and good health
- be suspected of being a thief or child kidnapper on the lookout for future victims
- break down, preferably in places really off the beaten track

- find honest, Mister-Fix-Anything mechanics
- eat a lot and often so as not to turn down invitations
- get stuck for hours and days at borders that wouldn’t budge
- avoid running over cyclists, sheep, dogs and other pedestrians
- swerve round camels, buffaloes and sacred cows
- try not to step on snakes
- try to get somewhere before nightfall
- ask for help from mayors, priests, headmasters, imams and shepherds
- find interpreters and understand them
- learn three words in all sorts of languages and forget them as quickly
- bale out after downpours
- approach families – in the street, in restaurants, in church, in the fields, on beaches and golf courses, by phone, at campsites …
- obtain and extend visas
- get lost in the wilds
- curse road maps
- win over a touchy female buffalo
- regret not snapping fleeting images as they flash by
- promise to come back one day … everywhere!
- be taken aback by the immense hospitality and sincere enthusiasm
of families taking part in the ‘album’
- get back home safe and sound, four years later
- win my second bet and succeeded in making portraits of 1.251 families.
On my return, 4 years later, scarcely raising an eyebrow, my friends asked :

“Well, how was your little jaunt ?”
“Oh, fine, no problems, it was just wonderful!”

Come and meet the families at this website !

uwe ommer phorographer