BEN BOHANE is an Australian photojournalist, author and TV producer who has covered Asia and the Pacific islands for the past 25 years. He is the founder and present Director of Wakaphotos.
After several years in Sydney working on alternative lifestyle magazines, Bohane’s first foreign reportage assignment was covering the Vietnamese army withdrawal from Cambodia in 1989. He then spent the next four years based in South and South East Asia covering the wars of Cambodia, Burma and Afghanistan. He secured the first interview with Golden Triangle opium warlord General Khun Sa in 1991 after he was indicted by the US. In 1992 he was reportedly the first western traveler to go overland from Kabul to Moscow in decades, as the Soviet Union was collapsing. In 1992 he was based in London covering Northern Ireland and Europe.
In 1994, Bohane returned to Australia and began covering the much under-reported Pacific region. Since then he has focused on “kastom and conflict” throughout Melanesia and black Australia, documenting cults, cargo cults and new religious movements in the Pacific. While covering every major conflict in the South Pacific – East Timor, West Papua, Maluku, PNG, Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia, he traveled and lived with a variety of tribal, cult and rebel groups and was thereby able to secure the first pictures of BRA leader Francis Ona in Bougainville in 1994 and the only interview and pictures of Guadalcanal warlord Harold Keke, before he surrendered to Australian and RAMSI troops in the Solomon Islands in 2003.
His coverage of Indonesia included interviews with the commander of Laskar Jihad in Ambon, OPM Commanders in West Papua and Falantil Commanders in East Timor.
He has the largest contemporary photo archive of the South Pacific in the world. His photographs are collected by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum and the Australian War Memorial, as well as being held in private collections.
His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Time, Newsweek, Stern (Germany), Monocle, The Guardian (Uk), French Geo, Asahi Shimbun (Japan) and many publications in Australia. Ben has also done news stories and documentaries that have been shown on ABC & SBS TV Australia, BBC, F24 (France), ARD (Germany) and NHK (Japan).
In 2003 he published “Follow the Morning Star” documenting the forgotten struggle for independence in West Papua. HIs book “The Black Islands—Spirit and War in Melanesia” has been published by Waka Press, while the exhibition is touring widely.
He is on the advisory council for the Pacific Institute of Public Policy: www.pacificpolicy.org, the main independent think tank for the Pacific and is one of the founders of the Australian photo collective www.degreesouth.com together with Tim Page.
Bohane lives in Port Vila, Vanuatu where he continues to specialise in Australasia and the Pacific islands.