Omar Kharem is a photographer and a musician/composer. Born in Manhattan in 1927, he is a native New Yorker. In the late 1950’s Omar became interested in photography and made his first photograph with a Kodak Brownie camera. In the early 1960’s, he switched to 35mm Nescon camera and eventually added Pentax HIA and Pentax H3, which he has used for the majority of his photographs. Also added were a Canon FTQL and the Nikon Photonic to his collection of cameras.
In 1965 Kharem began working as a professional free lance photographer doing work for community organizations, business groups, entertainers, theatre performers, dance and many other cultural and political events. As a photographer, it was Kharem’s good fortune to have many jazz musicians as friends and published his first series of jazz photographs in a magazine essay on Jazz in 1966. Among these first photographs were of fellow musicians in the act of improvising, creating great Jazz and a great influence on his photography throughout his life.
Beginning with Kharem’s first exhibition in 1968 at the NAG on the Lower East Side, he has exhibited his work at many other galleries and museums up to the present time including, but not limited to, Studio Museum of Harlem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art and other venues in New York City.
In 1991, after 10 years of working in the photography industry as a spotter, retoucher, copy camera operator and printer, Kharem retired to concentrate on his photography and return to playing and composing music. Kharem currently lives in Yonkers, New York.