Shahidul Alam by John G Morris in "La lettre de la photographie"

Friday 29th June 2012 La Lettre de la


Cows grazing, Nijhum Dweep, Bangladesh, 2009 ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

I regard?My Journey as a Witness?by?Shahidul Alam?as the most remarkable book by a single photographer since a messenger brought me a first copy of The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1952. It is not that the two books should be compared, although they are approximately the same weight.

If Shahidul’s book becomes as influential as has Cartier-Bresson’s, it will be for an entirely different reason. For me The Decisive Moment was the book that first articulated the philosophy of photojournalism. It was also notable in that it gave equal play to photographs of East and West. Its images have stood the test of time.
My Journey as a Witness is entirely different. It is an angry book, deliberately provocative. It too has many beautiful, meaningful images, but it is a book that must be read. It is a book that will break your heart.
Shahidul Alam was educated in the West, but he is a man of the East. As a teenager he witnessed the war that gave birth to his country, Bangladesh, in 1971. This book is a kind of diary of his career, which began briefly in London but now embraces the world.
His passion is to show ordinary people as they truly live and work, not as they are seen by what he calls the “dominant cultures” of the West.
Alam thinks most people in the world are being short-changed. He thinks photojournalists can do something about that. To assist them he has created an agency called Drik (Vision) in Bangladesh; a website,; and a brand, He also founded Pathshala, the first South Asian school of photography, which sponsors biennial international meetings, ? la Perpignan.
Alam’s ambition is not only to transform photography but to transform the world. He passionately argues for true world government, government by the majority of all peoples, not just dominance of the superpowers
I happen to agree with much if not most of what he says. Read the book and decide for yourself.
John G. Morris:?Journalist?John Godfrey Morris?(1916) has spent a lifetime editing photographs for magazines and newspapers, working with hundreds of photographers, among them the great names of 20th century photography.[1]
My Journey as a Witness – Shahidul Alam
Publisher: Skira
Edited by Rosa Maria Falvo
Introduction by Sebasti?o Salgado
and Preface by Raghu Rai
Hardcover – 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-8857209661
Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1 x 11.3 inches

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

11 thoughts on “Shahidul Alam by John G Morris in "La lettre de la photographie"”

  1. Thanks for sharing this amazing review by an amazing man on an amazing book by an amazing person. -? ‘Congratulations’ once again.

  2. Great! Wonderful! Excellent!
    We are very proud of you Shahidul.
    Regarding new ideas, I feel the word, ‘Government’ should not be there, it follows the Monarchy or Dictatorship which we wanted to come out from. I suggest the word, ‘Facilitator’. There are articles regarding a possible new system of state in my website. You are welcome to visit this site and write your comments.

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