I am happy to share that all 30 of my students have been promoted to their new classes and have received their new books. With excitement and happiness, they all shone like stars. It brings me great pleasure to share these radiant faces with you.
As you know, in 2020, I took on the responsibility of ensuring their complete education for my entire lives. For this reason, I regularly visit their homes and families to assess their situations. The years seem to be passing for them in the blink of an eye!
I began with 10 children, and now I have more than 30. Hopefully, in the coming years, I will be able to admit and shift more child laborers from their workplace to school.
For more than 15 years, I have been working on the issue of child labor in Bangladesh. From the beginning of my photography career, I wanted to change the situation and raise awareness of this issue. However, I was not happy with the slow progress happening in our society. Therefore, I decided to change people’s lives directly and started with those people whom I had photographed and those with whom I was already working.
I started by providing training and helping to set up businesses for people in need, especially the parents of child laborers. With these businesses, the families could earn more money and send their children to school instead of factories.
To get working children to school, I had to go door to door many times and request that their parents send them to school. Eventually, I was able to convince some parents about the importance of education and motivated them to send their children to school. It was not easy, as I had to take full financial responsibility for these kids, including expenses such as admission fees, tuition fees, daily food, books, clothes, and financially compensating their parents for the entire amount of money they would have earned each month if they had worked instead of going to school. I will also have to bear all the children’s expenses to ensure that they will continue to attend school.
Like these 30 children, more than four million children are struggling in our country. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible to give hope to these 4 million children. If every capable person would lend a hand to one child, miracles would happen, which could transform our society into a better-educated population who could better contribute to the development of our country, a benefit for us all.
My heartfelt thanks and deep gratitude for your kind support for the work I do. Without your support and love, I could not make all of this happen.
If you are interested to join this exclusive program send an email to know detail at: email@example.com
About the workshop: The focus of this customized program is to teach photography going beyond boundaries. Each student will have exclusive access to me through the duration of the workshop, giving them the opportunity to take advantage of my work experience, teachings, and methodologies. Due to the intimate nature of these workshops and the real world working environment, each student can expect to learn and experience much more than they would during one year in a standard university photography program. Each workshop is six days long and set in locations that are rich in culture with a wealth of photographic and documentary subject matter.
Behind the growth of any nation lies the hard work of its workmen. Saluting our indefatigable workers, who keep Bangladesh moving forward as we celebrate #LabourDay#MayDay.
It is essential to recognize the contribution of Bangladeshi laborers who work tirelessly in various industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and service sectors.
Unfortunately, many of these workers face challenges like low wages, unsafe working conditions, and lack of job security. On this day, we must take a moment to reflect on these issues and pledge to work towards improving the lives of our workers. Let us honor the achievements of our working-class people and commit ourselves to creating a better future for them.
This photo album serves as a tribute to the hardworking men and women who contribute immensely to our society. Your comments, filled with appreciation and support, only reinforce the significance of this celebration.
Each photo represents the resilience, dedication, and unwavering spirit of our labor force. It is an honor to capture and share these moments with all of you.
Let’s take a moment to reflect on the achievements and sacrifices of our labor community. Feel free to share your thoughts, personal experiences, or messages of gratitude.
Together, we can amplify their voices and recognize their invaluable contributions.
May this album serve as a reminder of the strength and unity that define us as a nation. Happy Labour Day to all, and thank you for being a part of this meaningful journey!
“The moment I wake up, right away, I smile…. I am aware that a life is offering me twenty-four brand new hours to live, and that’s the most precious of gifts I received, while living every second of my life for a new day, for a new hope, for a new destination. I am a traveler, and I don’t mind being called gypsy. Hanging my bag, holding my camera, eying over everything, I keep walking. I discovered a part of me in my journey. I mostly save each penny from my work for traveling. Simplicity is my luxury. Visiting my maples world is pretty sweet but I don’t mind waiting. Travel brings power and love back into our life. Sometimes we plan a trip to one place, but something takes us to another. Whatever purifies it is the correct road. Thus I stepped to Istanbul with an open eye in road to be lost”
– GMB Akash
There are a handful of cities around the world that draw me back again and again. In my list Istanbul was a most desirable place to visit. I got my chance and landed for a quick tour. In Istanbul It is difficult to be in quiet places in a city of 13 million, which was best for me. I was attracted to the city for its rich history—it was the capital of three empires and it’s the only major city in the world that straddles two continents. Navigating Istanbul can be difficult for tourists. There are so many forms of transportation—trams, trolleys, ferries, taxis, metro—and so many ways to get to a place.
As a travel photographer I love all options. While I keep clicking my camera, a short, wiry Turk goes past, carrying a dozen folded carpets balanced on his head. The weight of the load seems to be greater than that of the carrier. Women wearing veils, only showing their eyes, gold bangles and chains reminding women of my Old Dhaka’s. Several groups of photographer’s roaming around like me with cameras on shoulders and heads almost mechanically swiveling from side to side in an endeavor to miss nothing. The famous Blue Mosque was just near my hotel, I was stunned by seeing one of the most famous and most stunning Mosques in the world. Istanbul is a city for those who can still enjoy a sense of providence: a sense of discovery and a sense of marvel.
Continually after walking almost ten hours it was not tiring to me. As a travel photographer one must quality is to be brave. Brave to face anything and everything on the journey. I travel alone and learn to enjoy entertaining myself. It is quite fun to explore a strange place and not get bored in loneliness. I love to watch people, introduce new rituals and learn about different forms of life. I keep images of memory in my travel folder. Photographs are not only holding my memories, but emotions and my interpretation of an untold journey.
Wherever I go, I keep trying to match my country with the place I am visiting. Often I started missing my country. In Istanbul I was finding my bond, hearing Azan in mosques was weaving images of my place, my Dhaka. There is a universal language in the world, the language of love. We human beings are always trying to name our emotions, level our feelings so I keep trying to write in my dairy. My days ended so quickly, with my mixed emotions I was leaving the city, Istanbul. I headed to catch another flight for another place with the imaginary in my mind ‘Splendid Istanbul’
“I am not only burning myself in these journeys, I am shaping my molecules, the discovery and ending up here, neither do I go home. I will pack my bag by holding my camera, & another mystic road will open its arm for me, and I very well know, miracles dwell in invisible. I – a lost soul will walk step by step, hearing entirely in silence. When I keep learning the art to fly, I keep discovering till my universe dissolves”
What to describe and what to write? All I could see were dead bodies all around me. A silent anger, unbearable pain and helplessness froze my finger to click. Besides dead bodies and each drop of their blood asked me to tape their catastrophic death memoir to show the people around the world how painfully they left the world. Those memories have been haunting me for a long time.
I witnessed the tragedy of the Rana Plaza collapse 10 years ago today, surrounded by dead bodies and blood.
Drinking tears now is a daily menu to the people whose life collapsed with the building Rana Plaza.
I don’t know how many times we will remain mute and hollow out graves! I don’t understand why the world’s most innocent souls have to always be trapped as vulnerable victims! Their souls will never rest in peace until we know how dreadfully they died without even being able to tell their last wishes.
On that stormy day when I arrived at the hospital door, I was repulsed by the sorrow I encountered. No, rain was not the reason; it was the pain in every face which no words can describe.
Looking at a hundred wounded bodies and amidst the cries of the hundreds of wounded, I felt an urgent need to share their stories with the world, to shed light on their unbearable suffering…
Today, as we mark the tenth anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy, let us remember those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed. May their memory serve as a reminder of the need for justice, for greater protections for the most vulnerable among us, and for a world where such tragedies never happen again.
Remembering Rana Plaza Tragedy…
(The 2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse (also referred to as the 2013 Savar building collapse or the Rana Plaza collapse) was a structural failure that occurred on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, where an eight-story commercial building called Rana Plaza collapsed. The search for the dead ended on 13 May 2013 with a death toll of 1,134. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered the deadliest structural failure accident in modern human history and the deadliest garment-factory disaster in history.)
If you are interested to join this exclusive program send an email to know detail at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the workshop: The focus of this customized program is to teach photography going beyond boundaries. Each student will have exclusive access to me through the duration of the workshop, giving them the opportunity to take advantage of my work experience, teachings, and methodologies. Due to the intimate nature of these workshops and the real world working environment, each student can expect to learn and experience much more than they would during one year in a standard university photography program. Each workshop is six days long and set in locations that are rich in culture with a wealth of photographic and documentary subject matter.
By the grace of God, last week I was able to distribute 10 more bicycles among 10 underprivileged students.
Alhamdullilah, with these 10, a total of 50 bicycle distributions has been completed till now.
And I am planning to gift 10 more bicycles next month again.
One of the students, Rina said, “Brother, many girls from our village, who did not get a bicycle from you, are already married. Due to the distance of the school, they could not continue their education.
This bike not only helped us to continue our schooling but also saving us from child marriage.”
Like Rina, I have gifted one bicycle for each girl from each family, so they do not need to walk 10-12 kilometers every day which takes hours for them. They become exhausted and cannot pay attention to their education, and they tend to just drop out all together from school.
Thank you all my friends for your kind support and humanity! Without all your love and support I probably couldn’t go this far every day.
Please keep me in your prayers so that I can continue my journey to alleviate the sufferings of the people at least for one day.
P.S. If you want to help even one girl with a cycle, please send me a direct message.
Love and light
Photojournalist and Profile Photographer at Panos Pictures, London
Founder of GMB Akash Institute of Photography, Dhaka
Now-a-days Beauty Begum (45) cannot remember anything. Even a few days ago she could remember everything, from her bazaar list to TV serial’s schedule. At present she is forgetting everything. In front of her eyes in the hospital bed lays the horrifically burnt body of her husband, Jamed (42). Somehow this is no longer affecting her. Now she is constantly thinking about the doctor’s prescription of eggs, lemons and malta’s increasing prices. Her savings of many years from their daily bazaar profits is now in the pennies. Now she worries about her husband’s job that he did for 15 years as a temporary employee. She felt helpless about the increasing price of eggs and lemons; she doesn’t know how to give courage to her terrified son who is supposed to attend the Secondary Board examination. She is overly concerned how to pay 2500 taka of her house rent. Moreover, the burnt body of her husband is repeatedly moaning in pain at night, not letting her sleep for a second. All in all, Beauty Begum is forgetting everything.
It is not only the middle class housewife, Beauty Begum who has been thunderstruck with this perverse reality. Labourer Jamir Ally’s wife Parvin, who came from a village, is as well speechless. Her eyes moisten while she feeds labourer Jamir Ally. Sometimes she gets scared to see how painfully the petrol bomb has burnt her innocent husband who has worked tirelessly just to feed their children. The labourer man who used to return home at night with their bazaar used to crack jokes all the time. Poverty never hit them as much as this disaster and happiness was always there in their wrecked house. Still now he wants to talk, wants to explain how horrible it was to be burnt with fire. Having deep pain in his eyes tired Parvin whispered, ‘Poor people have to go through a lot of difficult tests in order to survive in this cruel world.’
Dhaka Medical’s Burn Unit is only a temporary address for those who now do not know about the time, date or day. The constant unbearable pain, the smells of burnt infected flesh, the harsh dread running through the body and the uncertainty for the future: this is the present for innocent people who have been burnt by petrol bombs during the strike. One such victim, 20 year-old Nazmul expressed his terror to his mother by saying, ‘People burnt by petrol will not live long, will they, Maa?’ The mother who has not eaten or drunk anything for three days while Nazmul was in critical condition could not answer him properly just cried and said, ‘Your maa will die if something happens to you bazan (son).’ Wounded Nazmul came out from the burning bus by using his hands. On the 26th January the petrol bomb in the Jatrabari bus has devastated Nazmul’s future and life. Still Nazmul is dreaming of recovering; still he is trying to console his mother, and hoping to live a longer life.
Like Nazmul, a lot of injured people are trying to believe in destiny. Mr. Billal (26) has given the name to his first child, ‘Sinha’. After getting married two years ago Billal thought life will take a right turn. A Petrol bomb has shattered his family, the future of their three month’s old Sinha and Billal’s entire reality.
Beside Billal’s bed is pickup driver Najmul Islam who is shouting in pain, ‘I will die, please do something, please do something.’ Unmarried Najmul took a loan of 11 kah and bought a pickup van two months ago. During the strike a petrol bomb hit his new van and him. His past, present and future all is now in despair.
Gravely injured seventy year-old Abu Taher is constantly calling Allah, in pain he keeps continuing to say. ‘La Ilaha Illahallah’. In insupportable pain such an old man has been suffering days and nights. It seems pain has no end.
The white bed sheet of hospital has wrapped Alsam (19) very well. His mother is continuously fanning him, touching his head and hair, calling him and saying, ‘Have a look Aslam, see who has come to see you. Open your eyes bazan (son)’. Aslam’s mother continues to call him but he will never answer her again. Alsam went to another place; a place from where no one can answer.
(Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), Burn Unit doctors said that most of the petrol bomb victims were burnt from 20 percent to 40 percent of their bodies. Out of a total of 111 patients who are having medical treatment in DMCH burn unit, 61 are in critical condition. A continuous blockade interspersed with hartals (general strikes) has been going on since the 6th January, 2015. It was called by the 20-Party Alliance demanding the resignation of the Awami League government which came into power through the one-sided election of the 5th January. The protests have become increasingly violent and nearly 1,000 vehicles have been torched or vandalized. The security forces have in turn arrested more than 10,000 opposition supporters while more than a dozen protesters have been shot dead, prompting allegations of a shoot-to-kill strategy.There has been an outbreak of violence and innocent ordinary people are being killed. Petrol bomb attacks on vehicles in Bangladesh are leaving people dead, destroying families and terrorizing normal society)
The sound of Monu’s footsteps compel us to look at him. It seems he is willingly trying to make the strange sound grab our attention towards his new gum boots. Before I speak to him, he shows all his teeth and enthusiastically says, ‘Bhaijan I bought them for 200 taka from the street. Bou (his wife) had washed them so well that I can see my face in them! Ha! Ha! Ha’
Before I compliment him something someone on my right side, Nibaron, who is Monu’s colleague of 15 years loudly said, ‘Hmm, does your new wife, still cry for you to drop the job, Monu?’ Monu recklessly replies, ‘Women are fools! She thinks tannery labourers die earlier. Allah is the one to decide. Women are crying party. Now I have these gum boots to protect me. She is happy and I am happy too!’
Monu got married to ‘Salma’ five months ago. Salma heard that tannery workers die at an early age, so she started requesting Monu to leave this dangerous job. But by doing this job for last 15 years, Monu, a 21 years-old man is surviving. He cannot imagine doing any other work than tannery nor is he capable of doing any other job.
The chronic cough he has or the rashes on his skin do not bother him anymore. Still he dreams of a better future with the 8000 taka salary. Now the dream is sweeter with his caring wife ‘Salma’.
Posing for the camera he said roughly, ‘By working in this hell, I am still alive. God might be giving me a long life bhai.’
I have been taking photographs in this factory for many years. I cannot find many of the faces I used to know. When I inquire about them the common response I hear is that because of illness they moved to their villages with their families.
The repulsive smell on my body or the sticky chemicals on my favorite jeans does not affect me anymore; Just like Monu. Only when I return from this work and the rickshaw puller turns his head several times and at last wisely says, ‘Sir, you came from tannery!’ Then I realize I am also polluting the air.
Like Monu many labourers believe that a pair of gum boots is their safe guard. Some of them tie gamsa (a traditional cotton towel) to save their lungi from the filth. But when they start working their sweat, factories chemicals, and raw leather shower them with poison and loathsome smells. A pair of gum boots and gamsa can not not save their hope to survive very long.
Every time I enter these deadly factories, I imagine that I am leaving the 20th century and have gone back 100 years in time. The ancient plan has neither fan nor any air circulation system. Thanks to those decades old broken bricks in the wall there ia a path for some fresh air. The leather hangs from the ceiling makes the air more toxic. The unstoppable giant drum keeps moving restlessly with raw leather pieces and produces extreme laud noise. If fatigue overcomes labourer they fall asleep in the piles of raw leathers. Some labourers get a cigarette and take a break to see the sky outside. But the sky is dark and filled with smoke. The drain that is passing by is full of red chemical liquids that keep polluting the area and the mighty river Buriganga for 60 years now.
11-year old Rakib gives me the brightest smile and curiously asks, ‘What do you do with all these picture, sir?’ But he then rushes away before I can speak to him. Carrying uncountable leather pieces in his shoulder he has no time for questions and answers. Rakib’s friend Monir (7-year old) keeps pinning up the leather at the yard. After the death of his father he got the job in his father’s factory. He had no idea what had happened to his father. He only knew he was suffering from an incurable disease. He feels good to work during the whole day and it is only in evening when his heart cry for playing.
Standing beside Monir I was trying hard to understand their miseries but laughter broke my concentration. I saw a group of workers cracking jokes outside and were laughing hilariously. Life goes on. These simple people risking their lives everyday in order to live the best they can. Society is not actually willing to know about their sufferings but they are nevertheless willing to buy their processed leather which leather has a good worldwide reputation. However the savles of the toxicity and repugnant odors have no good reputation. In their way home to to their slums they cannot sit in any tea stall to relax. People shout on them for their repulsive odors which disturbs everyone. Only their produced goods get place inside a branded shop with a prestigious tag ‘Made in Bangladesh’. The makers only receive humiliation.
Tannery worker Omar Faruk sadly says, ‘If we travel by bus nobody will sit beside us. One day a man harshly said to me, ‘You must come from hell.’
(Almost all of Bangladesh’s 200-plus tanneries are concentrated in Hazaribagh, a densely populated, filthy neighborhood on the banks of the Buriganga River in southwestern Dhaka. You can smell them long before you can see them: an unbearable stench like bad eggs, rotting fish and harsh ammonia. It’s almost impossible to walk through the tanneries without a scarf pressed to your nose. At almost $1 billion a year in sales, the leather industry is one of Bangladesh’s most profitable sectors. The lives of more than 20,000 tannery workers are still at risk. After 60 years of tannery operations, no one knows what content of toxins have been poured into the river, only that it is incalculable and staggering. Chromium sulfate, lead, organohalogens, lime, hydrogen sulfide, sulfuric acid, formic acid, bleach, dyes and oils all flow into the river)
The small window is a passage to the world for Rebeka Khatun (22) since she rented the tin shed room two months ago. Living in hospital for ten months took most of her will power after the deadliest incident of her life. Now she does not think too much. But the silence of her tin shed rented room does not allow her to rest in peace. Idle Rebeka now thinks about the charger fan that is restlessly cooling her. The inventor of the Dolphin charger fan might never have thought a garment factory worker could think about this fan for such long time. Yes, she wants to think different things now-a-days. She is tired of answering the same questions, tired of seeing unknown faces, tired of begging from people, tired of crying so long. She needs a break but from what she does not know.
When she closes her eyes her mother gently touches her cheeks. The mother who once made cow dung to feed Rebeka. The mother who wiped her tears when she cried and slept in hunger. Rebeka and her mother Chan Banu (45) had seen all the ups and downs in life. In the village they had to even beg to survive. Chan Banu did everything for her daughter Rebeka . She was life to her. Rebeka opened her eyes that were filled with tears and touched her right leg which itched all the time. There is no electricity for two hours and the restless Dolphin fan slowed down. Rebeka was sweating; the salted water flowed from her body, her eyes and maybe from her soul. The girl who started earning at the age of 15 never imagined her life without her mother and as a disabled person. She could not sleep the last two nights. Rebeka’s husband Mostafizur fanned her the whole night but pain is part of her existence now. Even when she opens her mouth only pain is visible on her face.
She lost her father in childhood. Her mother remarried just to save her from hunger. Fate did not take any right turns. After some years the mother and daughter moved to Dhaka with her two stepbrothers. Her stepfather’s only problem was Rebeka. But Chan Banu chose her daughter. Their struggle took them to the right place after so many years. That was to the garment factory. Thinking about the happy times unconsciously Rebeka slightly smiles. Her mother used to buy fishes for her after getting her salary. The last 12 months she and her husband’s life depended on charity. One year ago together they earned 22000 taka. Now the government assures her 10000 taka monthly as interest of her compensation that is hardly enough to live a disable life in the costly city of Savar. It’s been four years since Rebeka got married. She and her mother together joined Rana Plaza. They went everyday to their factory Ethar Tex hand in hand. One month before the biggest disaster ever she had a miscarriage. She and her mother cried a lot. Chan Banu said, ‘Don’t worry! Allah will give you happiness ma!’Huh! Happiness! Rebeka tried hard to turn her body around and her tongue dried. She had to ask her husband for a glass of water. Asking for help is now her only job.
Rebeka has gone through eight operations. Now she is mentally preparing herself for another. Depression is a minor word to express what Rebeka feels about life. Five members of her family died in the incident of Rana plaza. She was sewing the last piece of a pocket during the one hour left of her assigned work. She was about to go to the canteen to join her mother who was a peon in Ethar tex. After recalling the last glimpse of her mother she felt hollow. The mother who sacrificed all her happiness for her, she could not even hug her for the last time. She could not find her body. No DNA test matches. No compensation. No consolation.Disabled Rebeka is hoping for nothing. Life has treated her in the worst possible way. She just wants to know why Allah punished her!
It is not only that daughters like Rebeka are crying for mothers. Hundreds of mothers are each day crying for their dead daughters. Hundreds of mothers are still roaming around in front of Rana Plaza after nearly twelve months after the incident by holding pictures of their dead children. On the day of the accident Romila Begum (46) combed her daughter Lovely’s hair and requested her not to go to garment factory. Romila continued, ‘I am afraid Lovely, do not go for collecting the salary today. I will somehow manage our today’s food.’ Lovely had a fight with her husband and after leaving three of her sons to her mother she left for the garment factory . And never returned.
Clutching Lovely’s photograph at the site of the ruins, Romila fainted after saying, ‘My daughter gave her gold ring before leaving the house, and now how I will feed her sons and my family without compensation Allah!’ Ambia Begum who also came to join the demonstration by demanding compensation holds Romila. Ambia Begum harshly said, ‘You people will never understand our pains of losing children. Compensation isn’t charity, it is the right of my daughter’s blood’.
But the survivors who lost one or legs aren’t very hopeful with the compensation they got from Government. Rehana Khatun (24) was a sewing operator of New Star Ltd. at Rana Plaza. She had been rescued after 20 hours and had amputated two legs amputated six days after the incident. She said, ‘two years ago everyone in the family was against me taking a job in the garment factory. I left the village after my father’s death because I wanted to give a better life to my two younger brothers. When I started sending money back home they all became positive. I bought gold rings and a television for the family. I became the role model for my village.’ By telling these facts Rehana’s face suddenly gets depressingly dark by adding, ‘I do not want to go back to the village. Conservative villagers already told my mother that I ruined my life because I wanted to be independent woman’.
Rehana is not hopeful with the money the government gave her. Rehana said, ‘Interest of 1.5 million every month for two legs! But who will take care of me? Who will give this extra expense? I could have earned this money and have a good life at a lower cost if I were well. I want a way to run my life. I want a job that I can do in this situation.’
For Yanur the 1st term exam is more important than remembering Rana Plaza’s anniversary. She believes that she will be able to forget those unbearable scars of her muscle injury. She believes that she will be able to remember all the word’s meanings of her English book. She believes that she will one day forget pains of her chest and the memory of her mother. She believes that one day she will recover from the trauma and will no more cry for no reason. When Yanur rushes forward with the sharp sound of that scary crack-crack of the wheelchair, everyone understands Yanur is going to the William and Marie Taylor School that is inside the CRP (Center for the rehabilitation of the paralyzed) hospital from the hospital hostel. Talking about her present condition Yanur was looking through the little window of her small cabin keeping her favorite book Maxim Gorky’s ‘Mother’ aside. She softly whispered, ‘I missed mom a lot. I have five siblings. Poverty forced my mother to seek job in Rana Plaza at Ether TexLtd. Two years ago she found the job for me there too. We together worked and she used to say after some years we all will return to village with our savings.’ Introvert Yanur has had no frienda other then mother Anowara Begum. They found her body in the building after 17 days.
Anowara came to Dhaka with her family 18 years ago because of river erosion. Yanur’s father is waiting for compensation. He is coming every day to visit his daughter in CRP. For taking care of the five little children he recently got married. Speaking positively about her new mother, Yanur said, ‘What can my father do alone? He has to all the time take care of me. Our new mother is a little different from my mother. I am trying hard to accept her. Only it hurts a lot when I call her mom.’
Now-a-days Yanur finds it hard to remember things. She has had a massive muscle injury in her left leg. She was in the emergency unit of Apollo Hospital for nearly a month. By touching Yanur’s new hair she sadly said, ‘I had long hair. My hair was under a pillar; my leg was opposite under another pillar. I heard people sucking each other’s blood in thirst. But I believed at that moment my mother was alive. After one month I knew she was dead. My father went everywhere for compensation and got three lakh for my mother and for me nothing.’ Yanur is trying hard to recover from her injury by attending physiotherapy. She wants to continue her education. Putting the English book on her lap she asked, ‘Who is responsible for my disabled life? I want to forget my scars, my right leg that I hardly can move; they said they will not give me money because I did not lose my legs. Can they imagine how bitterly I am living every day? I want to be well-educated; won’t they at least give me this opportunity?
Nearly twelve months have passed since the Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar on 24 April, 2013 ‐ one of the deadliest accidents in the history of the world’s industrial sector. This tragic incidence has pointed to the fact that workplace safety and security for workers, even in the globally competitive RMG sector of Bangladesh, is far behind the required standard. An industry in which 3.6 million women are working in Bangladesh, a job which brings liberty for women. The total number of deceased is the same for most of the noted organizations and so far 1134 dead have been reported. The numbers of victims initially buried without identification, prior to the DNA test results, were 291. The Rana Plaza tragedy resulted in an outpouring of commitments from governments, local and global institutions, groups and individuals. According to some reports, each family of the deceased and seriously injured received up to a million Taka
‘I bet almost everyone in this structured world at least once in their life, feels like leaving their predictable complacent and comfortable surroundings and lose themselves in a chaotic, crazy and frenzied ‘nowhereland’. When I get lost in such a hectic adventure my pulse rises rapidly as I leave behind all the sober responsibilities that I have. When I leave to get lost in such an unknown destination I am transformed into a Gypsy. Most people of all countries of the world welcome travelers with love. Perhaps it’s because all of them are invisibly chained to their daily reality and seeing travelers makes them dream. That’s why when they see a traveler with a camera their smile says, ‘You lucky dog!’
To go traveling, the one factor that pushes me the most is always photography. To get to know an unfamiliar world I go out to find a story of the people living there then interpret my journey through images. Travel photography reveals everything about a country, a region, a community, a culture, a person. It arouses interest in others to be familiar with the place, to go to the place, and to find themselves in the place’
– GMB Akash
Travel Photographer’s Map:
There was a time when I put my globe on my reading table and imagined myself to be like Vasco da Gama. I wished to take pictures of the world with my small tiny black machine. Time passed by and I understood that if I open the ‘window’ of my map that my own country comes first and only after walking through it do I want to go to other countries. The importance of our Petenga beach in Bangladesh can be the same as being in Laos for me. The Dhaka mosque is an ideal setting with which to start shooting that prepared me for the intense inspiration that that I felt at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque. However, it is not only desirable destinations in other countries that create excellent photographers. Even discovering one’s own territory provided the pleasures and excellent photographic results equal to those of a world tour. For those people who get the chance to travel outside their own world, their TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER’S MAP becomes like a puzzle to be solved. When you are aboard you like to take pictures of everything you see. Because when we are away from our known place a lot of questions arise in our minds. How differently do these people wear clothes? What do they eat? How do they travel? Where do they pray? Restless clicks of travel photographers start at dawn and last throughout the day in order to get all these questions answered in the form of images. If you can gather together all this answers it will become your complete travel story.
Travel Photography pack light and with love:
Sleepless nights and unstable feelings are what a traveler photographer experiences before a journey. From Cox’s bazaar to Switzerland my feelings are the same kind of restlessness before such trips. I admit that there are few people who are very calculative, well researched and who can follow their initial plan for their photography tours without becoming impulsive. But I belong to the first group. The thing with travel photography is that it’s dreadfully addictive. You want to go when you want to go, reasoning be damned. But you must practice some self-control and try to remain disciplined.
Try to carry the absolute minimum that you can. Why lug around extra devices in your already heavy back pack? My traveling kit consists of – a couple of dark t-shirts, three pairs of jeans, a hat, a belt with lots of compartments, a must-have torch, all in one knife set, a flame-less safety lighter, a camera strap, three-four hard drives, a laptop, a phone, and a tiny toiletries kit and my precious dairy book. That’s all.
Hats off for bringing out your soul:
Congratulate yourself whether you are traveling within your native land or to a foreign culture. Not all people have the courage to step out from their comfort boundaries. The best thing travel photography can do is bring out your soul. On the first morning in a new place I wake up with the sun and get ready as fast as possible to hit the ground running. To know a new place, new people, new cultures morning light is blessed. Whether I am traveling to Sundarban, Bangladesh or the ancient ruins in Rome, Italy, my focus is on discovery. If your photography can discover the secret to enchantment of the place then you can depict your travels accurately through those genuine frames. Shoot the topic you find the most interesting. Shoot something that puts a deep mark in your heart and that will represent the place. Your story will be the invitation from that particular place that will attract anonymous people to visit it. So the rules are:
– Surprise yourself by discovering a new place, a new culture, a new life pattern, different norms or simply different people
– Create your album so that it presents something unique about the topic
– Attract attention
Always be alert and informed:
A new place invites new danger. When you are doing travel photography alone you must be alert about your safety. I have faced a lot of such incidents that would have been life threatening if I had not reacted instantly. Whatever area or country you are visiting try to find out basic safety cautions. Avoid dangerous areas by finding out where they are from locals. Do not always trust taxi drivers. Try to skip night outings alone. If you introduce yourself to a stranger do not give your full information. As a travel photographer you have to be like a dog. You must be able to smell out both danger and images.
Money and food matters:
Make a smart budget. In a new place there are chances to be cheated. I save for several months in order to do travel photography so it is important that I have my expenses broken down in order to help me to meet my budget. If you spend too much unnecessarily then at the end it will affect the quality of your travel experience and spoil your trip. Try to find out where to locate the cheapest but nicest places to stay and eat. Try to stay vigilant and not let people fool you. Invest wisely. And never compromise by not trying local foods. For example, in Nepal my morning starts not with bread but with MoMo the delicious local dumplings. Indulge in these small things which help you to integrate into the culture. Travel photography and the resulting work are never complete if you are not a part of the experience.
Open up to new people – you have heard it more than a thousand times but I am going to add it one more time. First – in the new place, make observations. Second – go a little bit closer by taking random pictures of everything. Third – Start communicating, either with a local vendor, or children or shopkeepers. Start a conversation. Fourth – you will be automatically diverted to the most attractive thing of the spot that holds your attention as an outsider. Fifth – if a particular thing attracts you then spend a long time with it. Slowly but surely the people of the place will start to act normal and will go back to their natural gestures. Remember to look at a place widely and then begin narrowing it down one scene at a time. Finally you will find a beautiful discovery that is worthy of depiction.
Respect the situation. Know about the norms of the place. Learn a few local words to communicate. If you are in Shylet (Bangladesh) you can amuse people with your Shyleti words. If you are in Manila (Philippines) try to do the same. If you do not understand something sensitive, silence is the best way. Be polite when you are shooting women, young girls or teenagers. Never offer money after taking photographs. This is a very bad practice which creates long-lasting problems later. If you want to give something, give a gift. For example, I always carry chocolates for children.
Now go! Feast your eyes:
Travel photography is something that you owe to yourself. If you are a good travel photographer then you know all genres of photography from landscape to street, people to culture. When you are traveling as a photographer try to be a person with whom people want to associate. While doing travel photography I like this attention because this interaction with people helps me to discover a culture and the people more intensively. Remember that you have to be constantly on your feet. I hardly ever take taxis because slow walking is the best discovery machine for which travel photography can be thankful. So let’s walk and start shooting.
Dutch travel photographer Wil Thimister and GMB Akash are going to take ‘A Visual Voyage’–by way of a Travel Photography Workshop 2-9 May. Whether you are a beginner, an enthusiast, or a professional, First Light Institute of Photography is inviting you to join the workshop on a truly amazing photographic adventure. Please send an email to email@example.com if you are interested in participating. To know more details, visit: http://wp.me/p3F0uP-5W
“These disorders — schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, depression, addiction — they not only steal our time to live, they change who we are. In the time period of working with drug addict, I encounter tremendous shiver in thought of helplessness that how they are silently dying in these dark alleys and there is no dark Knight to hold them straight only we are here to celebrate the funeral of these fallen stars”
– GMB Akash
Drug addiction is a major social evil in Bangladesh, affecting thousands of young people and their families. There are thousands of addicted people in Bangladesh and most of them are young, between the ages of 18 and 30 from all walks of life. Drug addiction in young Bangladeshis is mainly seen because of reasons like depression. People try to remove depression using drugs as a tool. And this is how they become addicts.
Drug users are taking drugs by sharing same needle with each other. Injecting drug users have few places to turn, and they are one of the groups most at risk of contracting and spreading HIV. Heroin is mostly smoked within aluminum foil or cigarette paper, but in Bangladesh this is injected. Injections through infected needles can cause diseases of the liver, brain, heart, lungs and spinal cord. Estimates of the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh range from 2,500 to 15,000 most of them are affected while taking drugs. A Heroin addict may need about Taka 500 worth of the drug a day. They neglects the needs of the family, and those are non-earning may sell off family assets. They also go out on the streets for mugging and dacoity.
“Rickshaw driver Mohammad Bashir has been addicted to heroin for most of the last 13 years. His habit cost him his job and put an enormous strain on his family. Like most addicts, he often uses shared needles. Police has caught him in the spot, members of his addict team has managed to fly. But police caught him, while he is continually requesting police to leave him in the word of his promise that he will not inject him any more with drugs”
Drug addiction is increasing among the street children who live without a family, love and care. Bangladeshi youth are ‘huffing’ shoe glue, a drug locally called ‘Danti’, which is seriously harmful to mental and physical health. Up to 17 percent of street children in capital Dhaka are addicted to drugs. Children as young as 10 years old are also experimenting with alcohol, phensidyl, Heroin, Baba, Ganja, pethedrine, and other forms of available drugs. For managing the money for drags these children spends all their earnings on drugs. Some time they beg whole day in the street and end of the day spends everything on drugs.
“Bitter experiences are there too. I visit all danger territory where these addicted people living senselessly. Few of them try to beat me sometime, few of them tied me with their arms and cried and cried, few of them burst out in depression and few of them wants to end their sufferings. But this is cycle of unbearable torment which has no end. In a world with chaos and hunger, everything becomes a guerrilla struggle. It becomes almost impossible to save lives or grow dreams sometime. But yet these lives deserve our affection, attention and sympathy. No medicine is as effective as love to them. “– GMB Akash
“This is not just a story of poverty and despair. Poverty is not all that holds them back. Every day, they are willfully denied an education, opportunities, a future, and an identity. This is the story of a people whose lot it is to only exist as numbers in ration cards, relief programmes and slum-arson stories. This is the story of the Biharis of Geneva Camp. A community of over 160,000 people who have lived like animals for the last 40 years and will likely live and die as animals in congested ghettoes at makeshift camps and shanties all over Bangladesh. This is the narrative of the Biharis of Geneva Camp.”
‘Geneva Camp’ is just one of the 70 camps all over Bangladesh set up immediately after the Liberation War of 1971. In 1971, the Biharis were a torn community. The tragedy of the Bihari community unfolds as far back as 1946 — the year communal riots in Bihar tore irreparable divisions through India — with thousands of Muslims massacred in an organised pogrom that added momentum to the movement for the partition of India. This resulted in a separate homeland for the region’s beleaguered Muslims. Between 1947 and 1952, families by the thousands left their ancestral lands to take refuge in the erstwhile East Pakistan.
During the Liberation war in Bangladesh in 1971, the Pakistan army, sensing this divide, recruited some Biharis to fight the rebellious Bengalis. Whether they supported the Pakistan army or not, many Biharis remained neutral in 1971, shy of taking sides with their local brethren. Thus the division widened in those tumultuous years leading to the sub-human “ghettoisation” of the wretched children of a lesser God. After the war in 1971, the International Community for the Red Cross intervened and found out that most Biharis wanted to migrate to the truncated Pakistan. Over half a million registered “Urdu-speaking” Pakistanis found a voice at the high level Simla pact of July 1972 and later an agreement was reached in 1973 between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh on this issue. As per the agreement, the Bengali prisoners were released and sent to Bangladesh. However, not all Urdu-speaking Pakistanis were repatriated to Pakistan. Even today, hundreds of thousands live in Bangladesh in camps as non-citizens.
Here, the rituals of life, death, triumph, hope and misery of each family, packed into 8 x 8 little boxes. There are only 270 toilets for a population of 25,000 and the numbers increase daily. The living environment of the camp is very deplorable. It is unhealthy, dirty, damp and unhygienic. This condition exists in other camps throughout the country. The municipalities/city cleaners never enter the camps to clear the garbage. The Bihari camps have almost no educational facilities. Throughout the country, only 275 of the 19,000 children in camps go to school. Only six of the 77 camps have a school. Most of the people make handicrafts or repair cars to make a living. Into the filthy rooms – homes and workshops rolled into one – women and men were busy working on brightly coloured saris. From about 1,600,000, only 60,000 are thought to register in the voting system in 2008, but in reality, those in the camp are denied the right of applying for a national ID card. Without citizenship, they cannot even obtain legal housing, so most live in 66 camps packed with people and livestock scattered across the country, including Geneva Camp.
Geneva Camp was built in 1974 by the Red Cross to help assist the new generation of stateless people. The older generation complains more than the younger ones, who are better integrated and bilingual. Free of the baggage, the younger generations are far more ready to become Bangladeshis: 70% of the people want to stay in Bangladesh, 17% want to go back to Pakistan. Despite recent progress in voter and ID registration, however, 37 years of being unrecognized have left the Biharis living in abject poverty and vulnerable to discrimination.
“Geneva Camp turned out to be a bordered little inferno located next to fairly well-to-do neighborhoods and commercial areas. Human spirit, however, knows how to counter the forces of nature and history. Inside the camp, little Bihars had been recreated with the memories and longings that the migrants are well known for. Still the government does not know how to handle it. No one does. The government has not picked it up. Civil society has not picked it up. These people have been left to fend for themselves.”
“I am fascinated to some faces, some characters who are incredibly important to me as a photographer or as an admirer. Many of these faces are invisible but their spirits for living life makes them invincible. Journey of portraying these invincible characters starts long ago when I find out there are certain people who are icons of heroism and enthusiasms. Over and over again I go back to them, find them out and by portraying them able to keep a part of these victors with me.” – Gmb Akash
Often get inspired by these faces I go to isolated group/people who are ordinary or I can say by having an urge to go to these people is my practice for understanding them. As an individual they are available around us, living life in troubled climate every day. But their willingness to over come difficulties titled them Invincible. My characters are raw, picked from a sticky street or from an isolated brothel or even from a dumped factory. Every face is passing a message of anticipation. I have learned to run my photography equipments; I have studied to learn to take portraits or getting a best environmental portrait. But when I concentrate beyond technical things, these characters become icons to me. I looked into them through the lens and I tried to pick the message of anticipation into the photograph. This is the biggest challenge which has no rules, which can never be taught, which can be only a self taught rule of getting invincible faces into photograph.
I emphasize the character. I want to present them vividly. I go to very close to my characters. Apart everything, I focused them. In spite of taking environmental portrait, often I try to present the environment differently. When the characters become focused, my concerns packed to represent these faces as a representative of their own environment. I would like to make imagine the audience – where these faces are come form, where they live in, what they do. Inviting questions can be way of portraying significant things which we mostly over look.
Most of the time, I have to work in very compact situation. Often I been located, where life is put in a box of measured 8 feet by 8 feet room or in a distressed noisy factory or even in an abandoned colony where I have to pass by three feet narrow road. I need to be patience and keep trying to work in these compact situations. Often I hardly get changes to use lot of lens. I am comfortable with 24mm and besides habituated I believe it is good to work with one kind to work fast and flexibly. For taking portrait I use 70mm. I do not like lot of distraction. My image should be clear and focused.
For taking environmental portrait, placement of the character is hard thing. I keep in mind environment should not disturb the character, I am taking in. It has to be supportive to each other. But I prefer to believe in my photos, character is presenting the environment; environment is not presenting the character.
– I always use natural light. No flush gun and no manipulation. Even in a bad light day I tried to use the available light into the character little differently so that it creates a different mood.
– Simplicity and be straight is my rule. Be focused, use simple background, experiment with color and get closer to the character.
– However near or far is my character, however intimate or distant the gaze my camera directs, I always keep in mind the elements of composition and the technique that will best help me to communicate what I am trying to say.
– I prefer to intimate with the character I am going to portrait. Relation and building trust is important. Many times people refused me to take photos, but I never gave up, I always make them understand what I am doing, telling the effectiveness of the shot. And if I failed I do not force but I never fail to try.
– It is helpful to get environmental portraits by finding out where they spend their time, what the rhythm of their life is like and observing their personality.
“I think the art of photography is to observe and document in your own personal way. On my way I found these invincible faces which are inspiring to keep my searches on. These insignificant characters are inspirations to win over all chances of life. Connecting these invincible souls in photograph has no rules. Besides photography, I learnt from them, we need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We should think that we are invincible because we are.”
“God is too busy, Can I help you?” stepping into the City of Italy, I first saw this hanging poster in a coffee shop. This is the ever lasting impression on me about the country. People are so charming, lively and enjoying every second of life. After arrival, by dropping my luggage, I lost myself with a tiny bag and my camera to explore the city which is new to me in every visit. My destinations were Rome and Venice. Where, Rome is a romantic city where couples are passionately showing their feelings of love that couldn’t be contained. The art and culture of the city has been admired worldwide for centuries. From Rome and Venice I took all the images which hit my mind to store these treasures in frame”
– Gmb Akash
Welcome in the city of illusions, and the city of yearning. Welcome to Rome, a place with so much art, so much history and so much beauty.
I discover Rome, as a silent and shiny heritage. Strolling in Rome means capturing its soul, amongst age-old buildings, splendid monuments and numerous churches that bear witness to an incomparable millenary history that will charms me. But for me as a photographer, wherever I go I try to see closely only people. So, I move from places to places and captured some human souls into my camera.
Walk the cobbled streets between centuries-old ruins, drink too much coffee, browse heritage markets and grand museums, and all together I passed time by eating too much gelato. I stopped by where I saw homeless people, who were tirelessly moving places from places. My heart poured with sadness to feel that in the advent world of Europe some people are still missing the minimum thing from this one of the best cities of the world.
Venice is an extraordinarily beautiful city. When I came to Venice, that was a totally free day to revisit sites, shop or just sit in the square enjoying a Strega and watching the people and pigeons. I meet lot of Bangladeshi in Rome and Venice. People are doing different kind of business to survive here. By looking people all around me, my camera was not taking rest but even though I fill I didn’t take enough images. It seems as if at each step I encountered some aspect of the city worth admiring.
I treasured all these moments with me. I am a passionate traveler. Traveled has availed to understand depth of life. From this travel Junction I put a note in my dairy that: Do not take a single day for granted. Life is precious!
“This is an emblematic depiction of the agony of hard labor. For saving themselves from hunger they breathe in asbestos dust and toxic waste. Thus they are risking their lives everyday. On the verge of death they risk their lives in order to endure themselves. They are passing their days on one of the world‘s most unregulated and hazardous industries, leaving a trail of debris, disability and death in its wake. I spend 10 days in the Gaddani ship-breaking yard north of Karachi in 2005. I witnessed workers dismantling large ships, piece by piece using no protection, in absence of tools, where one wrong move could result in death, but they were continually depending in their bare hands. In a city of dying ships flames with smoke rising, tormented with ship body parts, metal residue, asbestos, and oil spills. Barefooted workers with little access to necessary tools are vanishing ships on the rusty sand of Gaddani and break down these steel giants coming from all the harbours of the world.”
– Gmb Akash
The beach of Gaddani, 50 miles north of Karachi in Pakistan, has become one of the two world biggest cemeteries of super tankers, cargoes and other vessels in the world.Thousands of men, mostly Pashto migrants, toil over the ships. They are seasonal workers, a large number of native and immigrant workers returning to their homeland near the Afghan border at harvest time. The group consists of perhaps from Afghanistan. They pen for their beloved, whom they get to see only during the year ends. For around USD 1.20 a day, thousands of workers labour to dismantle dozens of ships each year at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani.
Rashed, a labourer at the Gaddani ship-breaking yard has worked for five years dismantling ships. He said: “Had we had any other way of earning bread, we would not have come here.” Workers are always under high risk of accident, though they hardly care to secure themselves. Under hitting rains of sparks, blowtorches split through the thick steel skin of a ship. As they are cut lose, the pieces of metal plummet to the ground with a roar. I saw workers, toiling ceaselessly, as though banished forever to an underworld.
Many workers operate in tight spaces where the air is thin, and in high temperatures caused by hot welding, which is widely used, not to mention that they are constantly exposed to flammable liquids like paints and solvents. The work carried well into the night shipyard in Gaddani, Pakistan. This is the ship graveyard that serves as the final destination for a significant part of the world’s fleet.
“Barefooted workers would take apart, bit by bit, the dying ships with their bare hands, shipyard in Gaddani, Pakistan. On their shoulders, workers bore great metal plates to their destination. People complain about their crappy lives working in an air conditioned work place, imagine having this as your only option in life.”
“Environs can explain much. You can feel the existence without presence. & sometimes absence is required to feel this presence more intensely. I started believing these things while I captured few moments of nonexistence. Yet these moments profound very much in exist of living being. I have taken these moments from various part of my world, however they are all alike. These are like footprints of a missing thing; you can assume the missing focus through edges. Welcome you in the puzzle. Fill in the gaps by your thought” – Gmb Akash
“Life – a one way journey….We should not regret any moment which make us smile…We should make our self happy with all little pleasure of our life ….even if we have everything, we haven’t had tomorrow…Lets fill our all gaps by our presence of love, appreciations & thoughtfulness. We may leave forever, & then our environs might tell our tale ceaselessly. Let the light lit our absence.” – Gmb Akash
“Photography has taken me to discover many unexpected territory as all time I wanted to see the sights of unseen & unforgiving incidents of reality. I was engaged in one of my personal project’s work on ‘sex workers’ for which I went to Madaripur. I have been working on ‘sex workers’ last 7 years & my works demand me to investigate their situation all over the country. Last year, in the month of August when I arrived at Madaripur it was afternoon. Shockingly I have seen thousands of apes are in street, running here & there. It was an unexpected thing of my life to see thousands of ill monkeys are moaning alone. I was traumatized, unspoken & felt awful when I understand all these thousands monkeys stand in front of me are HUNGRY. I always concern to cover stories of situation which need concentration for helping out by the assessment of the world. So I take out my camera & run to middle of them”
In char Muguria area, Madaripur around 2,500 monkeys are facing severe food crisis. Due to acute food crisis many mother monkeys, passing days starved or half-starved, are even unable to breast feed their babies. Quite a few monkeys have already died in this serious situation. Concerned over the pitiable life of the monkeys, locals and visitors have urged immediate arrangement of food for the monkeys. Though the local communities are already poor to feed themselves but the heartbreaking scenarios of monkeys influence them to share their own food with them. Despite keeping distance with human the unable monkeys are taking foods from people’s hands. The hungry monkeys were competing for the inadequate foods like peanut or biscuit given by the visitors. They were also trying to eat whatever they got — grass, garbage, polythene etc. Baby monkeys are suffering badly in malnutrition. Even the water crisis made their lives more pitiful. Local community sought allocation for food for the monkeys but the higher authorities are yet to give any response in this regard.
“A mother monkey by carrying its dead child was passing from trees to trees. When it came in front of me & begged foods I realized the monkey did not identify its child is already dead. This pitiable situation made me terrified. These apes, whose residents are jungle, came out for food & begging to feed themselves. These climate victims are more alike my working project of ‘Sex workers’. Human & animal all are helpless in front of starvation & need. They are survivors of dreadful situation which many of us over looked or never know”- Gmb Akash
I usually take a picture of a person and then afwerward when I close my eyes for recalling what I have taken – the first thing that hits my mind is – Colour. After observing a person if we try to recall, then unconsciously colours comes first in our mind. The texture of the skin, colour of hair, colours of cloths and over all colour gives us an impression about the mood of the sight. Colour is a strong element to illustrate a person’s traits. I believe every person cover a mood of colour.
From beginning of my career I am working for those people who are living in the edge of the society.While I started working with these people I surprisingly discover – life has taken all colours from them but still they are cherishing every moment of their life with colour. Colour is their courage; colour creates enthusiasm on them to fight to live for another day. Person, who has nothing, has colour in life. In beginning of my career I took all black & white photographs of those who are colourful. I found out poverty, sorrows and depressions become vivid if I skip colour from their life.
To present – ‘the present’ I start working on colour. A street child, laborer of a road or even a homeless lady all of them has colour. People who are fighting everyday to live life are heroes to me and these heroes represent colour. Their skin tone, dresses, living places all are colourful and powerful. They are deprived from all happiness of life but yet they treating themselves with colour. While I discover the truth I learned to capture the mood of colour on them.
“…I realize I have no power to deny the colour of these colourful people who are straggling in a colourless, hopeless world, nevertheless they live and smile. So I can not ignore the yellow balloon of a homeless child or even a red bowl of a beggar of the street. This inspiration inspires me to work with colour. Ans I continued my journey in the path of a colourless world to meet with all these colourful souls…”- Gmb Akash
Colour arouses my work for getting the depth of the sight. I got colour in different mood in the different part of the world. But I discover people who are fighting endlessly for surviving are more colourful than any part of the world. Because of this colour is more challenging to me. I take this challenge to explore the unrevealed spirit through every capture of mine.
I have a special affection for red. I like to take picture in the early morning and late afternoon. Unpredictably red comes to my way often. People who are living in lower rang affectionate about the colour – Red. It is important to take a red shoot carefully. Contrast might made the capture disturbing, while too much red can destroy the attention for the subject. A good composition and balancing of colour can create an outstanding shot. Apart of all it is important to discover the right mood of colour in the right temperament of an individual.
I go to country to country to explore colour differently. I have found out different colour in different cast. You will find people of power through colour. Your experiences & observations with colour will help you to reveal certain attribute of a community through colour.
– I prefer to use natural light which allows me to capture the originality of the moment of colour.
– I try to find out a natural background which suits the subject’s colour instinctively perhaps my entire colour photos are – found situation. So I believe to observe more & more while traveling frequently.
– Working with a single colour allows me to appreciate more intricate details within the subject itself.
– I travel to discover for getting the unexpected shot yet carrying the note in mind that I am searching thing which I have seen several times but never been noticed. Searching without clue for a known thing helps me to get a good colour shot.
– I only pick colour which has meaning to the subject.
“While I am taking photos of these colourful souls I am learning to live in colour. By capturing these colour moments I have learned – few hints of red, blue & yellow has inspirations in our life. People who are fighting without anything in this world are healing their pains by indulging in colour”
“When the train starts your feet will shake and you will automatically try to hold something, but there is nothing to hold on to. From 2005 I went up the train. Sitting or lying on the corroded metal roof of a train moving at 40 kilometers/hour is dangerous. By knowing that any time accident can happen you obvious to be nervous. It gives you an insecurity and makes it more risky. In that time there was no one who can tell me the rule of hanging in a running train, there was no example of photograph by which I can inspire myself to capture moments in camera. But I did not think twice to step into the slippery train and attempted to make a new series on the bravery of some insignificant heroic lives.”
Seven years ago I had to travel many times by train to come to the city. During traveling I noticed low income people were traveling in the roof of the train and even in between joining line of the train. Most of them were low wage working class and traveled with high risk of severe accident. I was surprised to the fact when I discovered few of them traveled many times of the day with life risk. For knowing the reason my interest had taken me to the root. I pick my camera and leave my seat. Thus my journey starts in the running train. I had a basic curiosity to know about people whom I intend to photograph. From beginning of my journey I work for those people who are fighting endlessly to survive without anything but a smile. For taking photo of them I blended myself into the same conditions which help me to get the insight of the story. This inquisitiveness leads me in the top of the train. And I become one of the free passenger of regular running train. Thus I got familiar with the scary situation of the fearful journey; discover people and above all I took pictures.
Uncountable times, I went to the roof of the train. Often traveling made me familiar with scariness of a running train. People become well-known to me. I find out so many different stories of people and their determination of surviving. When I manage myself to step straight then I pick my camera and start capturing my feelings. No one travel to risk their life to get pleasure. All were unable to manage travel cost as they were living under the margin. Many of those travelers work as day laborer, many of them goes for selling fishes in city which they collect from their villages. All of them have to return also. These travel costs can not manage by them so they risk their life in the top of the train.
This traveling is very addictive. When you will discover people who have power on them, who were bravely setting without caring anything the something will happen to you too. These people inspire you to live life without getting frustrated. They have nothing with them only have bravery to fight against all odds of life. So this journey put power inside me to fight in rest of my life with bravery and inspire to take any risk to live a life.
In winter surface of the train get slippery, once I stepped without been concern and attempted to fall. It is difficult to take picture in opposite of the direction of the running train. Along other passengers I have faced terrible winter, unwanted rains and continual heat in the top of the train. Many times wires hit me, every time I thought I should not go more. But again I can not resist myself. Getting a good picture is toughest thing while you need to spend days and months for the right moment and for the right click. I won travel photographer of the year title in 2009 on the series. Besides all I am fortunate to be able to stand in this fearful journey which will continually give me power for rest of my life.
“I recall all these journeys repeatedly. My achievement is that I established this series as one of favorite topic for photographers. I feel happy when I see photographers come from around the world to get a free ride in the top of the train and takes pictures. All these make me happy. I collect all these treasured moment and I am working for publishing a book soon on this series. I have to say, I am fortunate by killing fears of me to become able to go to the top of the train. There is nothing to hold on to, only your fearlessness”
“Among all – Human faces are most attractive to me. Every face has a story. We as photographers reveal that undiscovered story through our lens. Faces tell stories, tell the situation of the person, and tell the story of the place the person lives in. Wherever I go somewhere I always come across to faces those are different and eventually try to find characteristic of the community; every place has its own perception, story of smell, a person bears these things in his/her appeal. I search for story behind the face, so faces are incredible to me. Through out searching the portrait we could find strange stories of lives of people from different places that we never recognize before. I am going to share my experiences during the journey of finding unnoticed faces”
– Gmb Akash
I search for getting an interesting character, a face that is unusual. I search such face in the middle of crowd. My first prior attention is the selection of the person, choosing the right character. Before I take any portrait I try to be familiar with the person. I talk to him/her and try to build a relationship with the person I will photograph. I give them time to be normal in front of my camera. I introduce myself to them. When the person gives his/her most natural expression to me, I take out my camera then start shooting. I believe it is the strongest factor which I practice so far to get a close snap of a human soul.
For me light is the most important element for getting an excellent portrait. I try to use different type of light; I try to shoot in different time of the day to get different colour and mode of light. Every light has its own appeal for creating different portraits of an individual.
Technically I use 35mm (f 1.4), 24-70 mm (2.8) lenses. But I take portrait with all kind of lens I have. Truly to say I do not care about my equipments much. For me the most important is – the person. Some times I also use very open aperture like 1.4 to get very low depth of field. So my eyes only go to my subject. As in some cases the surrounding environment is very important, so in that time I use aperture 8 to get all the elements in focus. But I do not like using very wide angel lens and I do not like a lot of distortion on the photo. I saw many people use wide angel lens for most of their works. If you use very wide thing, the picture look interesting because of the distortion. But in my opinion then the picture looks like it has taken by the wide angel lens not by a photographer. So I don’t use too much wide angle. And thus I try to make my images clean and direct.
I have strong affection for color. I am a color photographer and I believe color photography is more challenging so as complicated. When I can meet the challenge I feel relieved. I am always very careful for using light and color. I love shooting in the early morning and late afternoon. But while I take portrait in the mid day I try to shoot them in the shadow, indoor or under flat light. It creates mystical environment.
I try to use very simple background while I am taking close up portrait, so that the background might not disturb the subject and I try to use lot of – window soft light. Eyes have significance to me. One of the most important things in my images is eyes of the person. Eyes tell the story of that person. Eyes tell the unseen background of the person which I always hunt to discover.
– For me the most prior factor is the character of my portrait. The light, color, eyes & the person must have to be blend with me. I align four factors together for taking a special portrait they are – the person, the light, eyes & color.
– Attention is the most hidden factor to get a good portrait. The person need to be familiar with you and the camera, it will be your prior duty to make the person natural as well comfortable for getting a best shot.
– Several rules applied by photographers for getting experimental portraits. Every photographer has his/her own style of taking portrait. Often the most remarkable portraits are those that break all the rules, so it’s important to create your own rules to get a master copy which might never done by some one before.
– Expression indicating the direction of the person’s eyes which can impact an image astonishingly. For me it’s important to observe the right moment of the direction of eyes.
– For creating interesting images you need to give trial, for creating interesting placement of your subject. After Creative thinking, creative placement can sometimes create out of the ordinary images.
– There are almost unlimited possibilities when it comes to use light in portraits. Input of light could make a portrait more or less powerful, as well side lighting, back lighting, silhouetting can spot specific features.
– Never fail to align your mind, eyes & lens together to find the inner beauty of the portrait.
“Any Book or text or any experience sharing can not demonstrate “Portraits” practically. Pick your camera explores faces to get a good portrait. And you are welcome if my single practical example or feedback could uphold your knowledge”
After Aila attack it has been two years Khadeza Begum sold her cattle & everything to rebuild her only shelter. Now it is another nightmare for her to stay under her destroyed house after facing another devastating flood. She has no idea how she will manage to pay back all her loans, besides passing nights in this smashed house with her husband.
Kadeza Begum said:
“We have nothing left, but we have to survive, so we’ve had to build our house again, twice in two year”.
Like Kadiza Begum It takes one year to Nobab Ali for building his house after Aila attack. Again flood hits on his all effort & left him in the flooded street. After all these devastation still he is trying to get some materials from the ruined house for covering his head in the road.
Alike them all inhabitants of Shamnagar are suffering like prisoner of devastating water kingdom. Helplessness & shouts are not getting into ears of rest of the people around the world & surroundings. In all places water & the destruction of water could experience in flood affected areas of Shatkhira. Inhabitants are collecting water after walking 3 Km. as all tube well are under water & badly affected by salt.
Amina begum told:
“Here water in everywhere, even in my house there is no sign of house only water. But we are such cursed that we have no water for drinking”
After facing devastating flood every year, they are fighting to live apart loosing shelter for existing. Still they are fighting to live. They are collecting all destroyed pieces of house to shed their head. Women go for fishing. They are healing pain of each other set aside from the remaining world.
I headed to the flood affected area of Shatkhira when all those villages are under water within three days & was out of communication. Evidentially when I reached to Shamnagar sun was setting down. I was surviving in a boat & could not see surface to stand a while. With the drowning sun the village was drowning under water. People were sheltered above in roofs of their houses. Moaning of old people & shouts of children were making the atmosphere miserable.
The southern part of the country is mostly affected by rain-fed disaster. There was heavy rain all over Bangladesh but flood has affected 14 of the 64 districts in Bangladesh. In Satkhira Kobodak, Betna, Shalta and Morichhap rivers swelled abnormally over the last seven days overflowing their banks inundating 160 villages in dozens of unions in Tala, Kalarowa, Ashashuni and Sadar upazilas. Over four lakh people of 160 villages were marooned. Crops on several thousand acres land; thousands of dwelling houses, schools, mosques, markets and ponds were inundated. Over 2,000 shrimp enclosures were washed away. Families lost everything & staying night without roofs in wild weather. Incessant rain coupled with high tide triggered by depression in Bay in the last few days caused river water rising engulfing villages on their banks. No humanitarian support has been provided to the people in the most affected districts by the government, local, national and international NGOs even after 10days of water blockage. People are suffering like prisoner of devastating water kingdom. There helplessness & shouts are not getting into ear of rest of the people around the world & surroundings.
After the flood in Shatkhira, all ladies are moving for dry places by carrying their belongings. Families lost everything, passing nights without roofs in wild weather. In such a situation open air in field of water can not accommodate them for healing pains. Leaving behind everything they are moving to the city. . Hunger, helplessness & calamity force these climate refugees to the city. City welcomes them to face the uncertainty of living for their entire life time. Rootless people suffer here & there. Their tears evaporated by thirsty street of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is the most vulnerable country in the world, the frontline state of climate change. Mostly to say Bangladesh seems the leader of climate change. With 140 million people, Bangladesh is one of the world’s densest nations and also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Like much of the delta region, it floods each every year, but the flooding has been getting worse, the waters are staying longer, and contaminating the fields and the wells with salt. People in Bangladesh live precariously close to the risks of cyclones, floods and droughts and more than 100 million people live in rural areas. Two-thirds of the country is less than 5 meters above sea level and in an average year, a quarter of the country is inundated. Bangladesh has experienced severe floods every 4 to 5 years that may cover more than 60 percent of the country, resulting in significant losses. United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that rising sea levels could submerge 17 per cent of Bangladesh by 2050, creating 20 million “environmental refugees”.
Here is a short film on this concern – how people are facing the calamity by living their normal life behind:
Still images of this devastating flood could reveal people’s straggle & endless helplessness.
The lady is going inside her house. The flood has broken all her hope to pass a single night in serenity. After facing devastating flood every year, they are fighting to live apart loosing shelter for existing.
“I headed to the flood affected area of Shatkhira when all those villages were under water within three days & out of communication. Evidentially when I reached to Shamnagar sun was setting down. I was surviving in a boat & could not see surface to stand a while. With the drowning sun the village was drowning under water. People were sheltered above in roofs of their houses. Moaning of old people & shouts of children were making the atmosphere miserable. When I reached to the house of Khadeza Begum I closed my eyes. It took two years to rebuild the house of Khadeza after selling all her cattle as well taking huge loans after Aila attack in 2009. I was standing in front of her ruined house. The house which has been rebuilt these two years by the bravery of Khadeza. I could not answer when she was hitting me by asking why I come to take photo of her ruined house again after Aila. No one come to ask them ever how they are fighting against the will of nature. She cursed all those happy people who seat silent after hearing their news”
In 2009 Aila attacked Shatkhira area, after two years when that pain has not forgotten this place again faced the ferocious attack of flood. While in these two years affected people managed to build their destroyed home but again flood has taken last hope from them. Over four lakh people of 160 villages were marooned after the striking of flood in this 2011. Crops on several thousand acres land; thousands of dwelling houses, schools, mosques, markets and ponds were inundated. Shrimps in over 2,000 shrimp enclosures were washed away. Families lost everything & staying night without roofs in wild weather. No humanitarian support has been provided to the people in the most affected districts within the affected time of 13 days.
People were suffering like prisoner of devastating water kingdom.Helplessness & shouts are not getting into ears of rest of the people around the world & surroundings. Still they were fighting to live. They were collecting all destroyed pieces of house to shed their head. Women went to water for fishing. They were healing pain of each other set aside from the remaining world.
Hunger, helplessness & calamity force them to the city. City welcomes them to face the uncertainty of living for their entire life time. Rootless people suffer here & there. Their tears evaporated by thirsty street of Dhaka.
After discovering the insanity of nature & bravery of these sufferers I realize these people are stronger to rule their own live. If these brave people could get support of a shoulder to cry, rest of us could claim us as “Human”. I recall the statement from Helen Keller & focus my lens to capture some brave moment.
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do”- Helen Keller
Homeless people float near in the street of the city. By few road sides families are allowed to build their homes. Still climate refugees can not gather enough wasted digital prints, papers & bamboo for making plastic houses. Those who can not manage helplessly sleeps in open air by not letting the place empty. Everyday they collect papers for dwelling beside street.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated cities of the South-Asian countries. Due to rapid urbanization process, the city is emerging as a mega-city and this trend generates numerous economic and social externalities and social cost such as deterioration of environmental quality, increased pollution and congestion. 30 to 50 percent of total Dhaka residents are Slums dwellers. Slums of Dhaka city are beset with a number of socio-environmental problems specially ‘water’ crisis.
“In slums from early morning hours passed & water pot gathered gradually. Queues of water pots & lines of people are regular scenario of the slum. Government van comes once in a day with drinking water. They have no idea exact when the van will come, so they line up their water jars & sit beside. Most of the inhabitants of these slums are climate refugees. Most of the slum dwellers stand in lines before the sun rises. After passing the long queue, knowing that this impure water causes sickness, they feel that they are fortunate. Their consolation is that at least they don’t have to leave with empty pots” – Gmb Akash
Apparently the place seems like garbage, though this is the most desired place of the inhabitants of Mirpur slum in Dhaka city. For water, in this thirsty zone queue stars near midnight. After an immense time of patience they got quiet impure water which often makes them sick. In spite of all they give a cheerful smile when they touch the water after passing the long queue. No dirty water can kill their hope & smile.
In Mirpur slum, slum dwellers have to waits hours & hours in queue for water. Children use to drink water whenever they got chance to get the pipe. Slum dwellers of Mirpur hardly get drinkable water. Bad smell & impure wastage made the water high-risk. Dhaka. Bangladesh