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I started taking pictures at age six. My Dad liked to do it, and I loved my Dad, so I borrowed his camera to be like him. After taking pictures for the high school yearbook, I studied physics at MIT, and narrowly escaped a career as a nuclear physicist. Traveling the world as a photographer appealed far more than spending my life measuring things, much to the dismay of my parents. (See MIT alumni articles below.) Four years later, my brother graduated something-cum-laude from Harvard and became a stand-up comic. He is now Senator Al Franken. I can call him Al.

My mother always worried. When I called her from Africa to say “Mom, I'm going into the jungle,” she answered, “I'll be happier when you call to tell me you're coming OUT of the jungle!”     In a postcard to my brother from Ghana: "Dear Al, I have malaria. Don't tell Mom.” Owen Franken

So I’d figured out a way to visit more than a 100+ countries (see subjects ) and get paid for it.
I left photojournalism after the overthrow of Ceaucescu in Romania. Driving film to the  Belgrade airport the day after Christmas in a rented VW, its windows blown out by sniper fire, I realized there were safer subjects to photograph. On top of it, my agency did not bother to pick up the film until after the weekend.

I moved to Paris in 1988 and stayed for the oysters. The dangers now are botulism, salmonella, an occasional mad cow or chef.  I discovered the joy of food during early travels. Even now, I wander off to discover markets and to eat. I had a meal of rat, bat and dog in Indonesia, dog sausage with my son near Dien Bien Phu in a rickety Soviet jeep (a male bonding moment), and roast wild cat (probably a young snow leopard) with my daughter in Burma.  She is still angry with me about it but loves to tell her friends.


My clients include:

  • Editorial : The New York Times - Travel and Dining sections, The Art of Eating, Travel and Leisure, Food and Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Saveur (US), Fodor's travel guides, inflight magazines, VSD, Paris Match, Le Point, Saveurs (France), Gault et Millau, GEO, der Feinschmecker, Essen und Trinken
  • Organizations : The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the United Nations, the US State Department, the USO
  • Covers : Time, Newsweek, Saveurs, The New York Times Magazine, The Wine Spectator
  • Published books: A book on Spain, Fodor's Escape to Provence and Escape to the Riviera.   A recent book honored  the Paris Hospital, St. Louis, on its 400th anniversary.
  • I have worked for I.M. Pei at the Louvre and Paris chefs Pierre Gagnaire, Bernard Pacaud, Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse, as well as Daniel Boulud in New York.

Ongoing projects:

  • A book about street food
  • Tracing dishes of great French chefs to their source, focusing on artisans – Contact me if you are interested in sponsorship.

I am happy to explore new assignments. For assignments and archive sales and prints, contact me to discuss rates and terms.

Part of my extensive photo library can be accessed here by subject and key words.

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Tel +33 1 44 76 02 25 | Cell +33 6 03 54 52 15 | ofranken@alum.mit.edu

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