‘THE TIDE WILL TURN’ By Shahidul Alam; edited by Vijay Prashad (Steidl). The eminent Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was jailed for more than three months in 2018 for denouncing the repression of protesters. Released after a mobilization of local and foreign support, he reflects here on his prison experience and a life of fighting for justice (for laborers, survivors of gender violence, Indigenous groups, and others) through image and deed. Some of his finest pictures illustrate the text, as do his selections of noteworthy images by other Bangladeshi photographers. Solidarity and integrity reign, along with tenacious optimism, expressed in a heartfelt exchange of letters with the writer-activist Arundhati Roy. (Read about his current exhibition.)
Where’s your bicycle? The Uber driver asked me jokingly. Yes, I had been known in photography circles and it is true that I did know a few Nobel Laureates. Given that I am a public speaker, and wear several hats, I do also come across the odd head of state, or celebrity. I’d be overstating it if I said they all knew me well. I have featured prominently in a film produced by Sharon Stone, but the long conversation on the phone, after my release, was very much an exception. But now that I have Uber drivers recognizing me, and people stopping me in the streets for selfies, I need to be careful I don’t trip over my own ego. Maybe I should be thanking the same person that everyone else thanks for everything that ever happens in Bangladesh.
I flatly deny making payments to the Bangladesh government for running a media campaign on my behalf. Neither is it true that I deliberately planted the inconsistencies in their fake news, making it appear they can’t tell a Kaffiey from a tablecloth. Let’s not get too technical. It started with me being a Mossad agent and taking money from Israel. Now I’ve been placed in the Al Qaeda farm, and definitely anti Israel. Considering that Israel is the one country that my government does not have diplomatic relationships with, and the only country my passport is not valid for, being anti Israel should theoretically make me a pal. My enemy’s enemy is my friend and all that.
The dot matrix Olivetti printer was noisy. The XT computer came without a hard drive: two floppy disks uploaded the operating system. When the electricity went (as it often did), we had to reload it. Our bathroom doubled as our darkroom. A clunky metal cabinet housed our prints, slides, negatives and files. Anisur Rahman and Abu Naser Siddique were our printers; I was photographer, manager, copy editor and part-time janitor. Cheryle Yin-Lo, an Australian who had read about us in a magazine, joined as our librarian. We offered and she happily accepted a local salary. My partner Rahnuma Ahmed often got roped in when we were short-staffed, which was often.
LOOKING at this photograph, one of the few in our library where the photographer is unknown, I realise how times have changed. This is the undisputed leader of a country with his arms across the shoulder of a newspaper photographer not known for being affiliated to his party.
No security guards, no party goons, no chamchas. Both men are at ease with the situation. The smiles, the casual gait, Rashid Bhai with his camera dangling, a single prime lens. Not even a camera bag (and this was the time of film when you only had 36 exposures). How times have changed. Sure, we live in a more security conscious world, but the distance between the leaders of today, and the people, isn?t simply about changed situations, it is about changed attitudes. Today the proximity between leaders and the people surrounding them has much more to do with business and benefits, than with humility and largesse. There was much more give and much less take. Continue reading “The Statesman, and the Photographer”
AZIZUR RAHIM PEU, born 10th June 1964, died 14 October 2014
“If you let me go, I’ll kill myself.” I’d never given a job to anyone before. So this response to my suggestion that there was a better future for him elsewhere, was something I wasn’t prepared for. I had returned to Bangladesh after having been away for twelve years. Not having the capital myself, I had set up a photographic studio in partnership with a businessman cum photographer Khan Mohammad Ameer and his businessmen brothers. The studio ‘Fotoworld’ was posh, and we photographed the glitterati. We also took pictures of factories, the odd milk powder tin, food, cigarette cartons and pretty much anything people would pay us (and sometimes not pay us) to shoot. Azizur Rahim Peu was my first recruit. I’d come to know him through the Bangladesh Photographic Society, where I was the general secretary and had taken an immediate liking to the young man. Continue reading “Chasing Windmills”
The dot matrix Olivetti printer was noisy. The XT computer came without a hard drive: two floppy disks uploaded the operating system. When the electricity went (as it often did), we had to reload it. Our bathroom doubled as our darkroom. A clunky metal cabinet housed our prints, slides, negatives and files. Anisur Rahman and Abu Naser Siddique were our printers; I was photographer, manager, copy editor and part-time janitor. Cheryle Yin-Lo, an Australian who had read about us in a magazine, joined as our librarian. We offered and she happily accepted a local salary.
The New Internationalist Magazine in Oxford, has been a long time friend and supporter. This two page spread was put together by them to commemorate Drik’s 25th anniversary. Thanks NI. Continue reading “Drik’s 25th Anniversary”
As is often the case, a very North American/European bias. But still a useful list
A.M Qattan Foundation: Founded in 1994, the A.M. QATTAN FOUNDATION is a UK-registered charity focusing on two principal areas, culture and education.
American Press Institute: Founded by newspaper publishers in 1946, the American Press Institute is the oldest and largest center devoted solely to training and professional development for the news industry and journalism educators.
Arab Image Foundation: The Arab Image Foundation aims to promote photography in the Middle East and North Africa by locating, collecting, and preserving the region’s photographic heritage. Continue reading “Photojournalism Resources”
Newspaper pages from around the world speak to the international interest in the Boston Marathon tragedy. A collection of front pages can be viewed at the?Newseum website.?
It?s hard to write about any other photojournalism topic given what happened in Boston yesterday. Awful. The announcement of the photojournalism Pulitzers, dominated by the immense tragedy of the Syrian conflict, had the majesty of a clip contest. Continue reading “Tragedy and the Role of Professional Photojournalists”
Deadlines for some big grants are approaching.
Inge Morath Award
Administered by the Magnum Foundation, the Inge Morath Award of $5,000 is given annually to a female photojournalist under the age of 30. The Award supports the completion of a long-term documentary project, and is juried by Magnum photographers and the director of the Inge Morath Foundation.
Deadline: April 30.
Getty Grants for Editorial Photography
Starting April 1, Getty will be accepting applications for its 2013 Grants for Editorial Photography. Five grants of $10,000 each will be awarded to photojournalists ?pursuing projects of personal and journalistic significance.? Deadline: May 1.
The Aaron Siskind Foundation
The Aaron Siskind Foundation offers grants of up to $10,000 each to individual photographers, selected by a panel of judges. The entry fee is $10.? Applications are open to US citizens and legal permanent residents 21 years of age and older, and there is no requirement regarding subject matter, genre or process, except that the work must involve photography (no video).? Deadline: May 24.
W. Eugene Smith Grant for Humanistic Photography
Each year the W. Eugene Smith Fund awards a grant (in 2012, the award was $30,000) to a photographer whose past work and proposed project follow the tradition of W. Eugene Smith?s concerned photography and dedicated compassion. The board of trustees of the W. Eugene Smith Fund appoints a three-member jury to evaluate written proposals and photos. There is a $50 application fee. Deadine: End of May.