G.M.B. Akash, born in 1977, is an award-winning international photojournalist and documentary photographer. He lives in Bangladesh. Akash graduated from “Ateneo De Manila University” with a degree in Multimedia Journalism. As a photographer, G.M.B. Akash is very interested in social issues and the life of underprivileged people. G.M.B. Akash does not only limit his work to document suffering and injustice, he makes an effort trying to improve the situations of the people he photographs through a project called “Survivors”.
Here is a small conversation between GMB Akash and Piyush Agarwala about his journey of photography.
What inspired you to become a photographer? When did you take your first click?
In my surroundings & the place I brought up no one can ever thought a boy can devote him for photography. Throughout my childhood I did not have access to photographers, their work, or even a camera. Photography did not exist for me in theory or in practice. I hold the old camera of my father & started taking pictures unconsciously in 1996. Till then I do not stop clicking for a single day.
In 1998, I saw a photographic exhibition on AIDS victims, titled ‘positive lives’ at a gallery in Dhaka and realized for the first time how images can influence social perceptions. My first reaction upon seeing this exhibition was a complete subversion of my original perception of AIDS patients. It struck me how AIDS victims are alienated and scorned by us because of social misconceptions and I realized how I, as a photographer, could help dispel these misconceptions. Here, I discovered the power that images have over us.
Were you supported by your friends and family when you told them what you wish to do in life?
In the time when I started photography, no one appreciate except my father. All of my friends had business background; many of them were doctors, engineers. People had no knowledge how a photographer can change the world. They used to think photography is not at all a profession. In some how their perception was not wrong as that time people do not have camera/access to photography. People had negative feelings for the profession. As in the beginning of my career I started to work with sex worker, gay community it was very difficult for me. Through the journey my family supports me entirely. They always teach me to listen to my heart and to be honest to my profession.
Did you take any training in photography or are you a self taught photographer?
Not in the beginning. I remember I do every kind of job to sustain my photography career. As a student and as an amateur I find it too hard to maintain the expenses and obstacles. But I conquered all. I hold the old camera of my father & started taking pictures unconsciously in 1996. Till then I do not stop clicking for a single day. Now I am represented by Panos Pictures. And as a multimedia journalist I am giving my efforts for making images and video documentation both.
How much time do you spend behind the camera each day?
I am a travel-holic and move with my camera habitually. I pass hardly a day without taking photograph. Even if I skip a day to shoot but in my mind I only think about photography. It’s a passion and it’s my love. Through photography I only jot down my heart’s language. Every click is important to me. I never know who might be there to see it and who might be absorbing it. But I know I have to show the hidden lights behind the curtain of the deprived world, a hidden light which may shine the world.
What kind of photographs do you like to take? Does your profession require the same or do you have to compromise?
I love human face and their stories. I love the way how I can interpret lines of life from the wrinkle of an old grandmother. People and their stories is my premise. I learn from faces I meet with my camera. As a stranger it takes time to merge with the people, with the community sometime and this is the biggest challenge me as a photographer. By building relation with my camera I fill in the gap between us and thus I pick up untold stories which world needs to be acquainted with.
My profession moreover requires the same. I am blessed to be involved in such assignments which have a purpose that serves mine too.
What kind of clients do you think you can work for best?
I believe in creativity & professionalism. I take only those responsibilities which I think I can meet up. I work for any organization those are working for human rights & core of conduct matches with my vision. Long term relations, ethical behavior, professionalism, true dedication to the subject are basic baseline to establish relationship with organization. I am blessed that all of my clients are mostly doing the same purpose which I endure most.
Describe your photography style in one word?
Do you prefer your photos to be in their natural form or do you like to play a little with the fancy edit tools?
I do only 1% posts production. I like to keep the image natural and I believe to be original in case of subject matter.
What are you working on presently?
On my upcoming exhibitions, for my dream photo book and most of all my priority is now on establishing my photo school ‘First Light Institute of Photography’
In Patan Darbar squre the woman is feeding pigeons
What do you usually carry in your magic photography kit?
Camera, lens, lens cleaner, CF card, torch light, small knife, pen, personal dairy, extra battery, poly bag for wrap the camera during rain and dust.
What advice do you have for those young aspiring photographers like me who envy your work?
While answering all photography queries to my fans and friends I often say: Photography is a way of life. Try to live with it. Make your own style & your own path. When as a photographer you will be able to discover yourself in your photography it will be the tribute of your life. So, ‘Click, click and keep clicking, until your thirst become eternal, until you make your own kind’.
Daily life in Kathmandu, Nepal. 2006
Find Akash works On his Websites GMB Akash and Akash Images
Read GMB Akash’s Blog
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