Saad Adnan Khan
Photography has become a language of self-expression for the youth in the country. This language that is unconventional, bold and provocative becomes eloquent and expressive at once through unique framing, composition and subject matter. Virtual spaces like flickr, redbubble and even facebook seem tangible enough for the colours and ideas found in the artistic photographs people upload nowadays. These photographs tell so many stories of life, of beauty, of dreams and of the photographers. With the advent of cellular technology, photography workshops, accessibility of DSLR camera, photography is now an art form for and of the mass.
The winning photo - 'Jute Monster'.
Jashim Salam, one of the many photographers who emerge from this photography culture of Bangladesh, does not only believe in the creative aspect of photography, but also the social aspect of this art form. With his thoughtful and creative notion regarding photography, he recently won the first prize at the sixth Emirates photography contest 2011, (main theme -- black and white). Out of 14,998 photographs, from 134 countries, Jashim Salam's photograph “Jute Monster” took the first prize. Along with acclamation from the jury he has also won a gold medal and 20,000 Dirhams. The photography competition was organised by the United Arab Emirate's (UAE) premier government cultural body Abu Dhabi Cultural and Heritage (ADACH).
Such international fame and statute of Jashim Salam, which is bound to inspire the young photographers in the country, is a result of passion and love for oneself and the surrounding. “I love street photography. My photography started when I used to get out of my house with a camera. Even now when I leave my house without my camera, I feel restless and incomplete. If my camera is not with me, I feel like an organ is missing from my body,” says Salam. This spontaneous and spirited enthusiasm for photography grew since the end of 2005, when Salam did a basic course on photography in Chittagong. Before photography, his interest lied in painting, cricket and guitar. None of these “impractical” notions were supported by his family members. When Salam completed the basic course on photography, he realised that he wanted to continue, which was another proposition that did not gain much support from his family. His family members' view changed when Salam achieved awards in the 69th International Photographic Salon of Japan (Asahi Shimbun) held in 2008, organised by THE ALL-JAPAN ASSOCIATION OF PHOTOGRAPHIC SOCITIES (AJAPS).
Jashim Salam, courtesy : Jashim Salam
Salam believes that he can raise awareness and address problems in society through his photographs. “We live in a society where there is injustice and oppression. People suffer from monga, migration problem, poverty. There are so many people in our society who are marginalised like migrant workers, handicapped people, underpaid labourers and climate refugees. I want to present their stories through social documentaries (series of pictures or picture album presenting one issue or subject). These people are the real heroes and survivors. Whatever good is left in the nation and whatever progress is made, is based on their labour,” says Salam compassionately. His winning photograph “Jute Monster”, is a portrait of a jute farmer from a small village over the Brahmaputra Char. “We can learn a lot from these people. Their perseverance and strong attitude toward life regardless of the daily oppression they face, is so moving,” mentions Salam.
Salam is a first year student of photo journalism at Pathshala (The South Asian Media Academy and institute of Photography). His work has been published in numerous national and international newspapers, magazines and publications including Reader's Digest, Himal South Asian, Better Photography, The Climate Crisis, CNN, Photojournale, National Geographic Online, Reuters, Forum Magazine, The Daily Star, New Age, Prothom Alo, New Nation and many others. His photographs have been exhibited in Bangladesh, France, UAE, China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Russia and USA. He has won several national and international awards. He has been working for DrikNEWS, an international news photo agency since 2008
Salam thinks Bangladeshi photographers are far more creative and in sync with their culture compared to photographers from other nations. “I was a little disappointed in the photographers from other nations at the Emirate's photography contest, because I thought they are still stuck to taking pictures of fruits and flowers. They didn't really present their culture properly. We, Bangladeshi photographers might not always have cameras, but we have the talent!” boldly states Salam.
Salam believes that there is a huge possibility of photography getting established as a full-fledged and strong profession in Bangladesh. “People are so talented. The only problem is that we don't have proper back up and exposure. However I am learning a lot in Pathshala. I am gaining so much more than just technical support from this institution. I'll only ask young photographers to be passionate and sincere. Think about the country and take good pictures,” suggests Salam. As a photographer, who thinks that the quality of photographs depends on the main subject and right moment of clicking the shutter, Jashim Salam has proved that one needs to be passionate to fulfil one's dream and must have love for humanity to succeed in life.