Young girl on her way to school
The Daily Star, Dhaka’s English language Newspaper ran a nice article about the photography workshop I recently gave at IUB. Plans are now in the works to exhibit some of the work on campus. Thanks again to Shams Bin Quader, IUB faculty and staff for helping make this happen.
Photo © Mohammad Zakir Hossain
I just wrapped up a four day Photography workshop at IUB and wasn’t so sure that it was going to come together until the last minute. On the last day as I was showing the students how to construct a multimedia presentation we had power cuts- they call it load shedding here- almost every other hour on the hour. For some reason the IPS back up power supply didn’t work either. Some guy, or maybe a woman, decides which neighborhood get turned off. IUB is located in Baridhara, the wealthiest part of the country. Lack of electricity and water are much more severe in other parts of the city.
Photo © Asif Khan
Bangladeshis are extremely resourceful and pull together when they have to. When the power finally returned, we made a final edit, sequenced the photos and made a couple of title images. With only a few minutes left we changed locations and presented our work to an enthusiastic audience. I better post this now before the power goes out again.
Rickshaw art, Dinajpur, North Bengal
Yesterday I introduced my students to twitter. It hasn’t taken off yet here in Bangladesh. Most were skeptical but today I noticed quite a few of them “following” me:) Thanks to Mindy McAdams for the reminder.
Speaking of photography, I posted forty full screen images from Bangladesh on www.hillerphoto. com.
Sifat & Sharmin. Photo: Khaled Mahfuz Saeef
Sifat Azam, one of the instructors in the Development Studies program at IUB invited me to join her and some friends on a trip to old Dhaka last weekend. It’s sad but true that in this city of utter gridlock the only day traffic moves is on Friday. First we met near Dhaka University and had lunch at the Star restaurant. We then all headed to a photo exhibition in Shakhari Bazaar. It was fun playing tourist with them and all going to Ahsan Manzil together.
Farhan, Khaled and yours truly
Dhaka has surprisingly few landmarks or attractions for a city its size. It’s all about the people. One of the highlights was speeding through the narrow streets of the old city in a rickshaw with Khaled and Farhan. Each were good sports riding shotgun on top of the seat. Now that must really hurt. People here are absolutely picture crazy- not unlike my daughters I presume. They seem to take as much pleasure in snapping photos of each other as being in them. Then again Khaled might be an exceptional case.
Rush hour commute (all day) at Farmgate bus terminal, Dhaka
Chobi Mela means Picture Festival and I can’t think of a better place to host such an event as chobi loving Bangladesh. Even compared to New York and Paris, Dhaka has one of the highest ratios of documentary photographers in the world. Much of that should be credited to Shahidul Alam, the founder of Pathshala: The South Asian Institute of Photography and Drik, a photography agency that distributes the work of “Majority World” photographers many of whom are former Pathshala students.
The festival opened with a live video conference between Noam Chomsky from his office at MIT and the West Bengal writer Mahasweta Devi discussing “freedom”, the festival’s theme this year. I haven’t seen so many gringos in six months. Yesterday I saw over a dozen exhibits at Shilpakala Academy and plan to sit in on a few of the screenings and talks this week.
So much has been going on in Dhaka this weekend. Bishwa Ijtema, the world’s second largest Muslim pilgrimage (after Mecca) is taking place this weekend in the northern part of the city. Three to four million visitors are expected from around the world. I was there yesterday and will post more soon as well as what I saw over at Dhaka University where celebrations took place for the Hindu deity Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and learning.
Along the tracks, Moughbazar
Something has happened photographically this past week. Things are beginning to flow again. For days on end the past couple of weeks I would go out but return feeling depleted with little to show for my efforts. Am finding that using my tiny point and shoot camera helps me work faster without having to bring the camera up to my eye. That spilt second can make a huge difference. With such a small camera it also feels as though there is less interference between me and what I’m seeing and photographing.