Interview with Bangladesh Street Photographer Muhammad Imam Hasan

Muhammad thanks for your time. Can you start off by telling us a (brief) story on your background and how you first picked up a camera?

Thank you very much Tim for inviting me. I am from a conservative family, so art related activities were less practiced. When I was in high school I got a Yashika MF-2 from my Mama (maternal uncle) and I was fascinated to take family moments (candid). But unfortunately I lost that camera after a year and a half in. Soon after I always dreamed for a camera but I had no ability. After a long break when my wife got pregnant and was very near to delivery I had a strong desire to capture my daughter’s birth and bought a Sony compact camera and that was the start of my photographic journey. Gradually I discovered my deep interest about photography, specially in street photography. So far the journey has been very positive; I look forward in getting more deeper in this genre of photography. I completed basic and foundation course from photography school Pathshala of Dhaka.   

 

Which street photographer inspires you and why?

Somehow in street I feel comfortable with wide lens from beginning and you know Dhaka is a crowdy city, so there are multiple subjects in my most frames. So I started google about layer and found this picture of Master Alex Webb.

And begin to explore to his all photographs. Whenever I feel tired and lack of inspiration I open his book  Suffering of Light and feel energetic to explore street again.

You’ve accomplished a lot and also shoot a lot…what keeps you motivated?

I feel my deep interest to observe people’s activities from close proximity and freeze them in my frame and let it lives forever.

Congrats by the way on placing first for Streetfoto…How did you hear about winning and what was your thoughts?

Thank you very much Tim. I first heard the news from Faruque Islam; living in USA (He also awarded 1st prize in mobile category) and Shah Toufiqur Rahman Ovi from Dhaka at the same time. I was very much surprised and honored.

What’s one photograph you never get tired of looking at?

Again that will be my Inspiration Master Alex Webb’s Photograph.

Webb.PNG

If you can go back to your wedding and hire one street photographer to document it, who would you hire and why?

Very interesting question. Now a days wedding photographers are damaging the beauty of marriage ceremony by interfering the smooth event of taking shoots by giving instruction frequently. I have no ability to hire an international Street Photographer for candid wedding photography. So I want to hire Ata Adnan from Bangladesh (https://www.facebook.com/reminiscencephotographyBD/).

 

You have many awesome photographs…my personal favorite of your’s is the hand grabbing the baby…could you talk about that image and share with us how you were able to capture that moment?

1

From December 2015 to April 2016 we faced continuous bad weather in Dhaka. So I decided to shoot at Kamalapur Railway Station. I was using flash to overcome bad lighting. This shot was taken on 29th January 2016, I was walking along the train windows. I found this little kid inside the train and his father was drinking tea outside the train by keeping one of his hands over the window… it seems that he is grabbing his kid’s neck. As I would fire flash so I had only one chance.. set the camera in live view mode, decide my standing position to get perfect perspective and took shot from top. ( all things happened within few seconds)

Which contemporary photographer you really admire?

Tavepong Pratoomwong from Thailand. He is just brilliant.

https://www.facebook.com/tavepong.pratoomwong

It seems like India, Bangladesh, and Thailand are at the forefront of the street photography scene…what makes bangladesh unique place to shoot?

Thank you very much Tim again for keeping Bangladesh in List. It is very crowded here but people are very friendly so in that sense you will able to photograph very close. In Old Dhaka there is an ancient building and different ancient cultural activities within the close proximities. Old Dhaka is also known as a open market for different wholesale and such…it is a prime location for street photography.  I believe anyone would have a field day there.

How is Bangladesh differ from India as far as photography or are they similar?

All most same. In Bangladesh people are very friendly, actually little bit excess friendly though it’s bad for candid moments.. Otherwise they usually don’t get bother too much about someone with a camera. There are locals that will offer you food so that you can go about your day. Bangladeshi people could be poor but they are very guest friendly and rich in spirit.

Is there a favorite area in Dhaka you like to continuously revisit and shoot? Or do you just wonder wherever your heart desires?

I usually shoot in Old Dhaka during the holidays. But on other days I walk my nearest area and I believe a good photograph can happen in any place at any time. I try to carry camera all the time with me.

If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be?

Magnum Photographer Bruce Gilden.  I love to see him work and learn such bravery to fire flash from such close distance.

 

You mostly shoot in color, although you do have some photos in black in white…how do you determine which photos you process or shoot in black and white?

Funny you ask. I always love to shoot and keep it in color. When I find there is strong elements in the captured frame. But if the surrounding colors are either distracting  or killing the main elements, only at that time I will convert to black and white. It depends.

 

Are your photos a reflection of your community, environment, of you personally, or all the above?

Nice question, my images are reflection of my soul and they represents me, my surroundings as well as my environment..

 

How would you want your photography to elevate to the next level?

I am always trying add more emotion and tension in my photographs. I think another experiment for me is to ‘travel the world’ or travel when I can rather.

Any short term or long term goals?

Short term goal would be to have a solo exhibition. Long term goal would be to publishing a book

Does shooting in Dhaka ever get stale for you? Or is there a lot happening where there’s always excitement?

Dhaka is a crowded place, specially Old Dhaka and lots of things happening there all time. Life happens on the streets!

My eyes become habituated with the scenario and activities and tough to get newer one. On the other side as I am exploring same places repeatedly I have to go deep and try to discover something new.

 

What’s the most famous Dhaka dish/meal?

Kacchi( Rice with Mutton) Fuchka, Jhal muri, Dhal puri, Alo puri, Matha, Bot, Kabab etc.

 

Is there a Bangladesh Street Collective?

Yes. Insight Collective (www.insight-collective.com)

Its started its journey from January 2015. Initially there was only 3 member ( Me, Md Enamul Kabir Roni and Faisal bin Rahman shuvo) . Recently 2 new member joined there (Shah Toufiqur Rahman Ovi and Sohail Bin Mohammad)

INSIGHT was formed not only for the showcase of our different approach towards daily life, but also to promote and spread the core idea of a particular genre (Street Photography) in Bangladesh

 

I hope to visit your country within the next two years…any advice to me as a traveler?

You are most welcome and eagerly waiting to be host. We Bangladeshi are very guest friendly… No need to be worry, just come and explore Bangladesh. Be sure it will be one of your memorable tours.

 

12111087654321

 

My website: www.imam-hasan.com

Flickr: www.flickr.com/hasandocjimc

Instagram: www.instagram.com/hasandocjimc