I’m really thrilled to be able to share the work of Bangladeshi photographer GMB Akash in today’s Monday Minute – you may recognise his work from when he won the prestigious accolade of Travel Photographer of the Year in 2009. So it’s with great pleasure that I am able to share an insight into his life as a travel photographer and what taking photos means to him.
What has been the most memorable assignment/project you have photographed and why?
I worked for 10 years on my project ‘Survivors’, which is one of the most memorable projects for me. Once an 8-year old balloon maker told me: “I took some damaged balloons for my little sister, I have no time to play. I have only time to support my parents.” It was at that point that I realised should turn my lens on lives like hers.
After that my aim with ‘Survivors’ has moved beyond documentation only. My goal is to bring as much help as possible to such people as these. A soon to be published book called Survivors aims to lift the lives of those who are depicted in the book . 25% of the sale price will go directly to assisting some of the people featured in the book. I have already taken the small step to assist ten families who feature in the book and I have been actively monitoring the changes in their lives. It’s a matter of great bliss to watch a factory boy sitting beside his father in their own vegetable shop. Their smiles are priceless to me, particularly when I think back to the grim portraits that I’ve found myself taking in child-labour factories. To be able to show the other side makes it all worthwhile.
What do you love most about photography?
How it underlines our lives, our awareness: by transforming sufferings into photographs, I persist to treasure and poke the ‘spinal chord’ of the world.
I see the beauty of people and the human soul in the pictures I take. And though the circumstances of some of the people I portray may be grim, back-breaking, depraved, the people themselves are always remarkable characters and souls. Photography is my language; to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it ‘hear’. I breathe in photography. Without photography I have no existence.
What’s the best photography lesson anyone gave you?
‘Click, click and keep clicking, until your thirst become eternal, until you make your own kind’ – I am following this rule throughout my lifetime.
Name one picture that made you say “I wish I could take a photo like that”?
There are numerous images. I often look at images of James Nachtwey and wish I could take pictures like his. Being able to be placed in those places for taking photographs is absolutely impossible for a Bangladeshi photographer like me.
If you could choose to shoot with just one lens, what would it be and why?
35mm. This lens is not too wide, but it allows for a little bit of wide-angle. You can almost get close to the frame that you see through your eyes. I don’t like shooting too wide-angle, as it destroys the image. I prefer to keep the picture as natural as it is in reality.
All images (c) GMB Akash
Thank you so much GMB Akash for taking the time to provide such an interesting insight into your life as a travel photographer. I wish I could take images half as good as his, they are truly incredible. You can see more of his work in the following places:
You can also read more about his book Survivors and order a copy here: http://121clicks.com/articlesreviews/gmb-akash-talking-about-his-new-book-survivors