The place is very well-known to me. But still this very familiar place is like mystery in many ways. I have been here for fifty times and my camera took every memory from each time of my visit. Apart it to me it is one of the most mysterious or the simplest destination that I was heading for 51 visits. At the side viewer of my taxi I saw buses full of Indian community queuing behind us. Telling numerically every day how many people come to visit this place is impossible. I have reached to my destination, ‘Pashupati Temple, Nepal’. In one glance the place seems like it has taken a shower with morning glow. The magmatic light may never visible to me like this before. The flavor of the magnetic aroma by the near shop and flowers waiting in shops are always welcome signs for tourists.
I do not like an easy way. I love to be lost. So, I did not enter the temple premise. I went inside a ‘Dhramashala’ nearby. In the yard of the ‘Dharmashala’ a lot of families made their spaces for themselves under the open air. They are tribal Indian who visits Pashupati once a year. All married women of all ages wearing anklet and a ring in the middle toe in dark toned feet. In the time of taking picture of a woman she burnt her roti that was in the pan. Her hungry child grabbed it fast before other four could take it. They do not understand Hindi, Nepali or English. Their children’s yelling and their tired faces described well from how far they come. I let them struggled with their rotis and leave for my next place.
By taking pictures as like other times I entered to Pasupati with another way. In front of me the giant and impossible ‘Pashupati’. Hearing the rhythmic chanting and sounds of temple rings I kept walking inside. Before I normally could inhale the smoke and tart air a group of people suddenly bumped into the place by saying ‘Hari’ ‘Hari’. They are carrying dead body and going to the river side. I started following them magnetically. Echo of some crying women made the atmosphere heavier, moneys those were throwing papers on people stopped for a while. A woman fainted when she went to give water to her dead mother. The dead body has been placed there ritually. Three dead bodies were preparing for their eternal ritual. Having mental balance to take photograph in such moment is tough. Having consolation for the family at the same taking picture is a toughest moment. In the time of great grief nobody bother about me or my camera. I started taking picture like an invisible person. No one look at me or ask to leave. I continue to capture moments of farewell.
When I no more can bear the pains of people who kept crying in an unknown language I leave the place. I only notice those naughty monkeys when one of them tried to take my cap. They were following me all my way. After walking a while I meet my known priests. They are always same in the all years round. Their posture, ornaments and clothes remained same. The Hanuman with his mobile phone inside his box or the naked Shadhu all are always there in their right place. One of them loudly said with a smile ‘Bangladeshi Akash, Kaise Hau?’ During taking their pictures smell of different fragrant were coming along. I moved by following it. I kept discovering Pashipati. Pashu means leaving beings, and Pati means master. In other words Pashupati is the master of all living beings of the universe.
I went directly to the hindu cremation ghat of pasupati. The same old fragrance welcomed me. Flames from fire, smoke and ashes were all around. Relatives of dead bodies were seating inside and outside in the premise. A dead body was ready for the final ritual. After putting all woods sequentially the son of the dead person set fire. Relatives were holding holy copies and kept chanting.
Opposite of me I saw many photographers and people were seating in the staircases. The sound of spiting fire and woods kept haunting me. Ashes were all over my body. After two to three hours ashes only remained.
When the place was preparing for another burial I saw a lot of young children below in the river collecting dead woods that threw in the river side. They are from outside Kathmandu Valley and living near the Pashupati Arya Ghat area regularly collect half burnt wood thrown to the Bagmati river after cremation, to sell to the brick factories located near Kathmandu. Before one of the Dhakal ask me not to take picture any more I Closed my camera.
The sun was going away may be with all remaining souls. In the temple a religious music was playing. In this holy place in between of all this loses some people keep searching lives. Life and death is so close to this place maybe that’s why very very special – ‘Pashupati’.
*** Pashupati area is regarded as one of the most important places of pilgrimages for the followeres of Hinduism. Thousands of devotees from within and outside the country come to pay homage to Pashupatinath every day. Pashupati area is also included in the list of world cultural heritage.
Minu (10) was hesitating to take the doll. Our smiles work and she offers her right hand with a slight smile. When we gave her the new Barbie doll she quickly holds it with her two arms. Before we ask her to take a photo she flies like a bird with the sound of laughter and joy. Her innocent voice was up in the air, ‘Moina, Rita, Sulekha come, come, see what I have! Hey all of you come and see what they are bringing for us!’
Within a few minutes the eyes of many innocents’ gathered behind us full of desire. Not even their clothes that lost their color from repetitive use nor their dry skin, nor their frizzy hair – nothing could hide the glittering sparkle of their eye balls. Standing by one after another they looked as if they were dreaming of what we had inside the magic box. Suddenly to them we become magicians. Magicians who give surprise and joy. We become the hamiloner bashiwala. All of the children from the factories were silently following us. Some children were running from their factory with the safety goggles still on their eyes. Some stopped their cutter machine and kept waiting for our arrival at the factory door!
When we offered the new car to Manik (10), he nervously asked his boss, ‘Sir, can I take the toy from Akash bhai?’ After the owner waved his head saying yes, Manik jumped to see what we had for him! We gifted him with the car he liked the most which he took in his hand colored aluminum from the factory. Edrish (11) was following us and whenever we asked him what toy he wanted, he smiled and said none. When we were about to leave the factory site he come in front of us and said, ‘Bhai, my age is not for playing. My younger sister has no toy; can I take a doll instead of taking my car?’ When we gave him both the car and the doll he started to dance in happiness.
Alongside the rail line Razib (8) and his friends were taking a rest after carrying passenger’s baggage. We quickly put cars and balls in their hands. They reacted like they got electric shocks and their shouts of joy won over the sound of the train whistle. From Christmas Eve to until New Year’s Day ‘First Light Institute of Photography’ kept gifting new toys to child labourers, street children and unprivileged children of the country. Their joy and happiness still fills our hearts and eyes in such a way that no words could ever describe what we felt!
Can you remember what your favorite toy was in childhood? How many times you cried to get a toy every time you were out with your parents? There are 7.8 million working children in Bangladesh who are having no childhood and who have no toys. Our school, First light Institute of Photography gifted more than 500 new toys to more than 500 deprived children of the society to inspire and to motivate them as well as to encourage them towards happiness.
Our deep gratitude goes to friends who generously contributed toys after getting the news on my Facebook page. Our heartfelt thanks to them for standing beside us. Thanks to Wil , Anja, Fakrul, Iqfat, Moinuddin, Mou, Sadat for their contributions of toys and Hridoy, Kakon and Tutul for their time in organizing and distributing them.
Give what you want. Want happiness? Make someone happy. Want courage? Encourage. Want love? Give love. Make your life blissful with blessings you are spreading everywhere.
My friends, I would like to invite you to visit our school website and to know more activities like above:
‘It was midnight, a night about 12 years ago. Year was 2002. It was six years after that I started photography. Without photography nothing was precious to me. I used to save each and every penny of mine to travel and to do photography from 1996. It was a mysterious, tiring night and I did not know what exactly happened to me. I was restless and I decided to destroy my past. I wanted to start a new start with my photography. I could not like my work anymore. I set fire in all negatives that hold images of mine. I destroy each and every image that I had. Maa run as mad and stood still at my window but did not say a word. She knows I love photography more than my life and when it was burning in front of my mother she was looking at me with deep sympathy. I ignored everything. Wept silently. I felt alone and I know this will be the beginning to search a new me. 18 years I am trying to depict images that I see through my soul with the same thirst that one day I could fulfill my inner emptiness’
– GMB Akash
The place I like that I love to go very often. There are places where I went more than 100 times. Every time every place is different than my last visit. I would love to discover stories of my frames. Time changes face of place, people and in fact me. The same place that has been visited thousand times gift exclusive images with different layers.
I can smell photograph. During walking in a street suddenly a place attract me magnetically. I can smell the right place and can smell my future photograph. I wait until I get the picture I want, the waiting makes it more interesting, my attempts make me more excellent. I wait hours and hours with happiness but no boredom. Because I am sure I will get something every very special. Even I spend one day in one place just to get one shot that will remain precious to me for lifetime.
I am a nutty traveler. I never hide myself during I am photographing or traveling. I interact with the community whom I go to visit. I give them time to understand me and I take time to understand them. In any place you will find children and dogs first to welcome you. They will follow you and you have to win their hearts. If they accept you then the community will accept you. Documentary/travel/street whatever photography I am doing I always know I have to respect people and their thought. If someone refused me take picture I accept it with respect. I take photography when I feel the person is easy with me and in the time when I got an affirmative signal. After taking picture I show them and heard their comment. Sometime I take print with me to show them, surprise them. Small interactions make you confident as a communicator and a photographer. It is important to be trustable when you are a photographer. A small thanks and a big smile can win many hearts.
I want to extend my territory as photographer. Roads are like my homes. Sometime people call me ‘Specialized tourist’, sometime ‘Documentary photographer’, sometime ‘Travel photographer’. This photographer me is nobody just a medium to bridge with the people I meet. I create bridge with people’s feelings, with their joys with their sorrows. I merge with their cries, laughs. I walk in the street and collect untold stories of people. Every place has different color, smell, sound. That attraction takes me again again. I am nobody of that place but I feel I left a part of me there with the people I photographed.
‘I keep searching myself over and over again in all cities, footpaths and in streets, from country to countries. People forget about me, my face and my camera. As because I am not any part of their life. But I never can forget a single person I met in the road. I keep their pictures in my mind in my memory card. And I wish one day or one night again I will meet with any of them and will say how I kept their memories in my heart’ – GMB Akash
To Join in my upcoming street photography workshop in March 2014 please sign in at:
For some people life is full of special challenges. Their lives ensure them not to miss a bit of it. Standing in a place which is more minimalist with just few machines and the machines men, where there is one slow fan, one dirty window and air full of dust, smoke and fuel can immediately let you feel ‘suffocation’. Those compact factories create an illusion on me with some simple, but genius strength, ‘Artists creates masterpieces, and worker creates hand pieces, only common is the dedication’.
These small factories has barely one window and that is the only savior as at least light has a way to come into and smoke gets small chance to take a break. Sounds of continual hammering, sounds of all old machines and workers favorite music usually make the place stand out.
To live a life, to feed a family and originally to creating something is their passion behind setting in the hot seat. The economy that runs in air-conditioned chambers are running finest as there are thousands hands in the backyards which hardly stop. These workers are making every small thing that needs to construct a well build society in this era. They make things that are quite often unnoticeable and emergence like, locks of houses, pipe, tap, kitchen materials, metal holder, wire, switch board etc and etc. They might never know how it feels to sweat in air-conditioned cabinet and worrying to meet deadlines. But they know how to make 300-500 master pieces in bare hand with a smiling face. Their weekly wage which varies on production may be the highest 2000 tk for a week for producing 300 item daily multiply 7 days equal to 2100 items may not seem poor wage in their eyes but the fact is they are spending all for their families and happy on it.
These workers do not have any dress code but at the end of the day their attire is same. They are black-grey skinned, dusky-dirty craftsmen of an unknown factory. Their self-made musk and goggles speaks loud how much they care about their safety and under caution of danger every day.
Their music of life never stops. They dance in the one hour break of lunch stepping with the raw Hindi or Bangla songs. So the continuous bits of the music and smiles will make you nervous. How a person can listen to music and greet a stranger after working 14 hours in such a bloody place? Does really they knows any mantra of living happily ever after so much struggles? They are human of worth. Human of worth for all the good will they’ve given to the society without expecting name, fame and money.
‘Sometime a crow visits my balcony and its harsh calling wakes me up. Those mornings often turned me down. In such meaningless morning I just pack my bag, give myself a break and walk out in a nameless street. My endless journey welcomes me ahead and I picked memories one by another from my unknown destination. Capturing a definition of an indefinite street is street photography to me’- GMB Akash
‘Stop being bookish, follow your own theory’
‘Make yourself comfortable’ or ‘feel being at home’ these advices are too bookish to me. In practical, my heartbeat goes up and my knees shake a bit when I stand in a place that I want to express just accurately the way I am encountering. When a cat suddenly popped up with an old woman and their astonishing-frightened-funny stunt gives me a command in my head ‘click-click-click’. ‘But what I shoot!’ I missed a second and that took out all. Yes, this is the biggest challenge that street photography offers you. You have to seize the moment before your cerebrum read it. So the question is, ‘are you afraid being in street’? I believe when a person become photographer he/she leave ‘afraid/anxiety’ behind. I rather call it hesitation/nervousness and insecurity. When you jump into the street by carrying your camera you already killed your 50% fear. Now it is your nervousness that holds you back and just after clicking your first shot you are ready to rock in the road.
‘A photographer next door image’ or ‘an invisible photographer image’?
In the middle of a big crowd, surrounded by so many people different than me sometime I become unusual. And when people started noticing me by raising their eye brows then my big smile helps me out being abnormal. Yes, as a photographer it is very important that you have a familiar face with a universal smile at least an ability that tells people you are reliable. When you learn to merge in the ground then surprisingly you will see that you learn the method of being there but unseen by people. It depends on you either you want to earn a ‘photographer next door image’ or an ‘invisible photographer image’, pick one that serve your intention and that helps you to shot well.
Get the hint
The street that I often visit is not only familiar by me but I am also familiar by it. A common place I visit has a triangle turn where then comes the street corner; there I usually followed by one or two street dogs. In the beginning it was not the same. In the very first day they suspect me and even after touching them they suspiciously moves with me whole day. Now when I appear in the street they wave their tail and follow me obediently. Inhabitants know well that I am no longer a stranger. So whenever you are new to a place make a relation, get a hint or balance yourself repeating something people can understand that photography is your passion not any venture. When you are totally in a new place and you might never get another chance to be there even then try to find a mutual intimation. Trust me your understanding and relation will show in the picture you will take.
Enjoy discovering yourself
Every street is different, people belong to the street is different, smell is different, color, texture, light all are different. Indifferent is you and your camera. Discover a different you in every different street is your voyage. The biggest challenge is to discover the unique thread by this common with your third eye. For me the photograph is only a wow – when I take a picture of the street and after showing it to the curious inhabitant they express, ‘when it happened? Does it really look alike?!’ when people laugh, shout, surprise and question then I get the picture is happy to be about. It’s a treat for yourself when seating at your lab you suddenly bumped in a folder where you found the expression of a European shopkeeper is the same with an Asia shopkeeper just difference is in place and circumstance. Discovering this similarity is way more interesting than finding differences. Enjoy discovering yourself in everything that is the wow factor will keep you motivated in long run.
Try to answer yourself why you are fascinated about street photography. What will it bring to you? Why are you passionate to be in street? Are you stopped yourself because there is no fame or name after continuing do it! Find your inspiring trigger and forget about expectation. Keep yourself motivated, ignore critiques. Find an inspiring space which appreciates that what you are doing. It can be a friend circle; it can be your blog or your website or just your facebook. It is very important to be inspired to continue your work that you are doing.
What actually Street Photography gives you?
- Street Photography helps to be a good photographer. Street photography has a trial and error method that helps you to enrich yourself as a photographer though whatever your field is.
- It brings you the utmost courage to go to that much close to the people that someone allows to welcome a stranger. Its helps you to mix with unknown people and to know about their attitude towards you
- It bounds you to take challenge. Finding a way of a maples road is aspiration of street photography.
- It will help you professionally to gain new concept, unconventional idea and will help to create your masterpiece.
- People said in street photography 99% are wasted. I said street photography teaches you photography 99% and rest 1% you have to gain.
How to do good out in the street?
- What you are carrying who cares, carry that much you can effort, just remember you have to walk a lot and you cannot annoy people by your baggage.
- Street photography helps to stay focused but you have to make the connection. Smile a lot and try to make fun with people you are meeting.
- Make street photography one of your favorite time pass. Discovering new things everyday is like surfing in a new you.
- Street photography is like swimming. I am not kidding! When you learn to swim (photographing) you will desire to go deeper.
- Learn to handle yourself in the street. It is you and your personality that will help people to look at your camera naturally.
- Until you are not enjoying your walk your camera or your mind will not take your demand.
- Take a company or a friend with you at the beginning to break the ice. Shooting alone is way too enjoyable when you know how to treat yourself best in a lone journey. Do not go out with more than three friends then shooting will be secondary.
- Keep wakening your third eye
- Look at things in the streets like you are watching a movie. Find the characters, drama, action, humor and romance.
- Carry the camera that follows your command. Do not juggle with new equipments in the street without run it previously.
In the journey of photograph limitless experiences remain uncounted. Bad news won’t keep navigators from the open seas. The street photographer who loves the work he/she is doing will never stop. The courage of such ONE gives birth of His/her kind of street photography.
I teach street photography in The compelling Image: The Compelling Image: Online-Interactive Courses in Photography and Multimedia Storytelling
If you are interested to join in my street photography course sign in: Street Photography Classic and Creative
‘A tattoo tugs my mind. Not the tattoo but the meaning. ‘Alis Volat Propriisi’ which is Latin for ‘She flies on her own wings’. A girl who is the proprietor of the tattoo was in a beauty parlour in Laos. She said, she prefers to to live like a free bird which her tattoo said. It gave a new meaning to the work I did in Laos. It’s been two weeks and I was looking for a salon to cut my hair and to do the shaving. After looking for a proper place I discovered salons and women with beauty possessions. As I never worked on the topic it was new to me. I generally know girls are obsessive about being beautiful but it was something out of my experience. I learned a makeover can change beauty within. I take permission from girls to take picture and being able to know about it. Meeting striking women from being the perfect professional and home maker to being crazy party girls it just compliments the ‘multi-tasker’ title for women. My photo series took a turn when a girl was wearing her mask on and whispered, ‘Every morning before I face the world I face myself’. I am trying to bringing out the glamazon to you and accepting the fact that wearing hearts on sleeves like woman is not easy! Isn’t it?’
- GMB Akash
It was a new territory for me. It takes time to adjust myself to take photographs in women region. Language was a barrier but already I learn few from the local language and started the conversation with the help of English. I was carrying my photography book which helped me to take permission to take photographs.
My bouncy hair and tiring traveler-raw-look scared women but whenever I showed them my book they smiled and said yes. I was very wrong in the perception that women do not bother about man’s look. They do! And additionally they care about their look most!
Woman empowering by entrepreneurship is inspiring. A good example of entrepreneurship is parlour business. Women are working independently on the sector they preferred in Laos. Men and women are their clients. They are offering different kinds of services which varied in price and quality. From head to toe parlour offered services. It starts from beauty treatment and ends to full makeover. They offer facial, threading, waxing, massage, yoga, skin therapy, foot massage, steam bath and many services to indulge in luxury. Every parlour is busy with their clients. Few of them offer membership card and special discount to attract new clients. Parlour is a business which proved services can beat products. Every client wants better service and hardly they know about the product those parlour girls are using on them.
A woman who was receiving foot massage said, ‘It’s a healing world. It gives me a break from the tension world I live in’.
Discover beauty within is the best part of any makeover. Inner beauty brings the outer beauty and may be vice verse. A makeover is not complete until a life changing makeover is not under taken. If an external makeover helps to bring out internal beauty then why not to indulge in this treat. Giving a break to yourself to get a new you is whole worthy, right?
Now, I back to my story. As in the beginning of this exciting photo trip, I went out to cut my hair and shave my beard in Laos. Let me speak out the truth. When I enter into a parlour then a girl arrive to cut my hair. Being a traditional Bangladeshi I was surprised and can not seat in the chair. Its naive but what to do about it! It is me! I brought out my camera in the parlour. I requested the parlour lady to allow me to take pictures. She asked me, ‘Do you want to cut your hair also?’ I wave my head right to left and then left to right. No regrets. What is more important for a photographer than a whole new set of photographs and such new experience!
Originally posted on First Light Institute of Photography:
Why participants need to attend a workshop? – Simply to raise the quality of their images. When I ask a participant to tell me the strengths and weaknesses of an image, the reply is often a ‘pause’ or a few responses in generalizations. If you can’t specifically identify what’s right or wrong about a photograph, it’s nearly impossible to seriously improve. I tell the participants that they are here to try new things, if you rehash things that you already know then attending such a workshop is pointless. I want to prepare you to venture into a challenge – into something that is not your regular territory.
1. Bringing a Third eye
Having a Third-eye is God’s blessing but realizing your own power is the prerequisite to launch your uniqueness. Creative eyes are your third eye. Sometimes it comes automatically or sometimes you have to spend years to discover what…
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"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" For me Photography is my language, to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it hear. Through photography I only jot down my heart’s language. The best part about being a photographer is that I’m able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless and to bring their identities to the forefront which gives meaning and purpose to my own life. I have received more than 68 international awards and my work has been featured in over 70 major, international publications including: National Geographic, Vogue,Time, Sunday Times, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Fader, Brand Ein, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Colors, The Economist, The New Internationalist, Kontinente, Amnesty Journal, Courier International, PDN, Die Zeit, Days Japan, Hello, and Sunday Telegraph of London. In 2002 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in the Netherlands. In 2004 I received the Young Reporters Award from the Scope Photo Festival in Paris — once again, the first Bangladeshi to receive this honour. In 2005 I was awarded “Best of Show” at the Center for Fine Art Photography’s international competition in Colorado, USA. And in 2006 I was awarded World Press Photo award and released my premier book “First Light”. In 2007 I became the first Bangladeshi to be selected for the 30 Emerging Photographers (PDN 30), sponsored by Photo District News Magazine, USA. I won the 7th Vevey International Photography Grant from Switzerland in 2009 and in the same year, I took home the international ‘Travel photographer of the Year” title at the International Travel Photographer of the Year Competition (TPOY 2009) in the UK, the most prestigious award in travel photography. I was one of the speakers in the fifth Global Investigative Journalism Conference, held at Lillehammer, Norway in 2008 and as well I was the first Bangladeshi in Ted talk at TEDxOporto 2011, in Portugal. I was one of the speaker of “7th Forum of Emerging Leaders in Asian Journalism”, Yogyakarta / Indonesia”. In 2011 Nikon has selected me as one of the 8 influencers in Asia pacific (APAC region). Presentation of my 10 years project published as form of book ‘Survivors’ in 2012, which has reviewed by prestigious Geo magazine.