An Unrest Soul

‘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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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:

Making Photo Essays of the Street’ With David Bathgate and GMB Akash’

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‘Human of worth’

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Angel in Hell

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.

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An Unflinching Eye

‘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

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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Inspiring trigger

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.

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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.

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In Patan Darbar squre the woman is feeding pigeons

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.

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-          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.

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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.

Instructor :

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

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‘She flies on her own wings’

‘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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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’.

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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?

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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!

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‘In the Beginning’

Gmb Akash:

First Light Institute of Photography

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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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‘Survivors’ Part II

“My photo book ‘Survivors’ is not only important presentation of my 10 years works. It is significant to me in many ways. Surviving in a poor country — facing adversity daily — is akin to a lifetime of tragedy. So in a number of ways, the images presented on these pages are my own experiences, too. My journeys connect me to the many characters. Sometimes I had to run, take a ride on the roof of a moving train, sleep on a flooded floor and spend many hours walking the maze of avenues through sprawling city slums. It is the reaching of my protagonists, the welcome into their homes and their lives, that makes my work worthwhile.

And if mine is the hand that blocks the scorching sun from their eyes — bringing shade for just a single minute, then there’s value in the work I do. I am touched that people started valuing my small step. Yes, one never can complete one’s quest for serving for humanity but I am trying. While photography is a big task but beside it is my willingness to serve these people whom I photograph which is more challenging.

I am gifting business/source of income to each family I am able to give from my book ‘Survivors’. Finding people from the book whom I captured 5-10 years ago, talking/sharing ideas with them, finding the right business, even in some cases doing the business myself for few days, educating them, monitoring them become toughest than photography. But I believe, every amazing achievement starts with an impossibility. Now after seeing these happy families of Survivors, I realize, when many little people in many small places do many small things, they can change the face of the world” – GMB Akash

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Over the course of the last decade, I have built a collection of photographs depicting the wise, resigned, sad and sometimes bewildered faces of children, sex workers, climate change survivors and many others who share the “struggle” day-in and day-out. And although the circumstances of many of the people I portray may be grim, as individual they are people of remarkable character. And it is the beauty of such people and the human soul that remains when nearly all else is gone. This beauty I strive to capture in the photographs I take.

This post is tribute to those ‘Survivors’ who sifted their life with my small gift and make a bench mark to rest of the people by becoming example to their community or locality.

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Sajib – a child labourer is busy with his immense workload. These children are deprived from almost all human rights, dedicating the entire childhood towards supporting their families in need. Heavy workloads, prone towards injuries and discrimination are common to them all.

I took picture of Sajib in an aluminum pot factory four years ago. Sajib’s (14) mother Salma Begum’s (35) working life started when she was 15 years old. 10 taka (1 USD =80 Taka) was her first salary. She has one daughter and only one son Sajib. She might never send Sajib to work in silver factory if her income can generate three times food for her two children. She came to her slum 26 years ago. She earns 500 taka per week as well Sajib earns 400 taka per week. They have to pay 1400 tk rent of only one room in which she, her husband sleeps along their children.

Her husband has affairs with other ladies and spends his whole income either for women or for addiction. She cannot let him go as he is her children’s father. Her daughter is very good student. She always do top in the class. But Sajib or Salma Begum no one can give her fees, books, dairy or even Tiffin. Sajib sometime manages to do overtime and gives his extra salary to his sister to continue her education. I spotted Sajib and get a picture of him three years ago in silver cooking factory when he was 11 years old.

Through the ‘Survivors’ project I find him out and get the insight of his family. I understand Salma Begum is one who can help the situation, if I lend my hand to her by project ‘Survivors’. She has previous experience of selling bed sheet and she earns enough that time. She was just an employee of a Khala (aunt) who has the capital. She saw khala earns 200-300 taka daily while she sells everything. But end of the day she got 50 taka as her labor cost. She leaves the job as she has no capital and the income was low. Now she wants to do that business again by the assistance of expertise of one of her sister. She wants to sell Kamiz (women dress) and Shari to door to door and later in a shop. The only thing is she needs capital. I trusted on her idea and let her do the business and go to buy clothes with her. Her plan was she will buy cloths with her full capital then with the selling profit she will buy more and again move for selling.

 

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Her planned worked. She got good customer in her locality and other areas who willingly buy cloths seating at home. She do profit less, sells more thus she gains customer loyalty and this uneducated lady now is a successful seller. It’s been nearly year she is doing her business and her son Sajib is helping her. She sends Sajib to Brac School but he could not able to read or write and feels shame to do study with juniors. Salma Begum decided to involve Sajib more in her business and admit him in a technical school beyond conventional. She bought furniture for her small house and her only daughter now goes to teacher for private tuitions.

She is more than happy with the fact that still woman like her is capable to earn a dream with dignity. And my happiness? Seeing this family, I feel simply proud. 

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31 year old Hashmoth lost half of his face in a tiger attack in 1995. The attack was on his first day out fishing. He was sleeping in the boat when the tiger attacked. Though he survived it, the damage to his face was such that no one from his village would come near him. His parents forced a girl to marry him. At the initial days of his marital life, he would not allow his wife to look at him. The region is home to approximately 500 Bengal tigers, one of the largest single populations of tigers in one area. These tigers are well-known for the substantial number of people they kill; estimates range from 50-250 people per year. Satkhira, Bangladesh

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By the project “survivors” I planned to help him. I ask them what business will be easy to do for them or what income source can be easily maintain by Hashmoth. He & his wife came to a decision that they will sell fish in market. For this purpose they need capital. I go to their near market with them, saw Hashmoth’s capability of selling fish by a trial. Then we went with Hashmoth to see how difficult fish business for him is. As my method of helping is not giving money in hand, so I assign a volunteer who will assist them to do business in first one month. Already I visited twice but still the place is far from the city, so I keep my faith alive that they will overcome all obstacles. 

 

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And they did. Along help of her brave wife Hasmoth is selling fish in the market and spends his profit for daily expenditure of their family. His wife manages to save little from their profit. Hashmoth goes to sell fishes at early morning and at evening. Rest of the time either he takes rest. Thus Hashmoth is able to stop himself from begging door to door and become a real survivor in the race of life.

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“Several times I have been severely broken heart, injured or illnesses have torn me down. Nevertheless I continue working because of my strong belief that my pictures can make a difference. I learn, the wound of today is the power of tomorrow. And ‘Survivors’ proved me that no matter what happens in life still life is precious, each moment deserves celebration

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“I was searching for ‘Survivors’ to help their families. It was a long journey to find each and every face after ten years later.”

A quote of Helen Keller is a big inspiration for me in this journey which I want to share with you all:

“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 something that I can do.”

- GMB Akash’

 

 

The Smell of Wet Earth

What are the rains like in your country? Are they soft and drizzly? Or are they firece and theatrical like the storm visit us in south of Bangladesh? Or may be they’re just charming and infuriating like Dhaka traffic in the rain? Monsoon touches each region of our land in a different way. Scent of wet earth, where careless hopes takes root, where no dreams grasps for savagery. In where life is full with enormous liberty to mesmerize – a crazy photographer this me, loves monsoon gravely. Walking into the slippery mud, hanging my camera bag, I can’t stand umbrellas. I keep reciting

‘ But in love our hearts are as red earth and pouring rain; mingled beyond parting’.

students at Ateneo manila university , Philippines

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This is a land of rain. It forms in the best colour in monsoon. Inviting you to watch glimpse of it how colourful the rain remains in my country.

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The rain bring cooler weather, and the dusty,dry forests transform within a week of the first showers from arid brown to a languid mix of lush greens enveloped by a phantasmagoric mist.

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Rains when you are heading to school make you miserable; But rains when your are off for the day are license to splash!

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The rains might be picturesque. But some of us still have to get to work.

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Rain start suddenly and pelt you furiously with huge coin-sized drops

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You’re rushing home from work just as the rain starts.

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Harvesting shapeless dreams in the figment of canvas 

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If you want rainbows in your life, put up with rain first

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Sometimes LITTLE things matters BIG in our life

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Is that your lonely heart rains loud sometime too!

Leaving umbrella can be risky for heart of mine, as camera needed to handle with great care in rain. I wrapped my camera well and the camera bag is always weather sealed still a raincoat for my camera bag is must. I love to lost in the villages and Bengal rain is something you should remember in your lifetime. Photography in rain is difficult but it is the fun of a blend how desperately you are enjoying the photography and the rain. The difficulty is being pick the moment of certain  glimpse of heavenly background from the continual pouring of dull weather. But when the rainbows shines it takes you into a different world. Many times I waited in a field for hours to follow a photo moment without anticipation. And the colour? A refreshing burst will be found in the screen of the camera, the fresh eloquent moments to capture. Everything become heavenly in a moment. So why to wait with empty hand?

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The smell of wet earth, the first raindrop on your skin,followed by the subsequent rhythmic thud in the background – rain remind us that we’ve been cribbing about the summer too long to be anything but grateful now. In teenage I use to imagine – Tears of love turn into heavenly drops of rain, that make the heart bud. The monsoon so as a rainy day is always dear to me. For YOU too?

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