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GMB Akash

GMB Akash, a Bangladeshi documentary photographer, recently stole the hearts of Keralites with a touching photo of a father who bought a new dress to his daughter after two years. He captured the stunning smile of Kawsar Hossain photographing his daughter clad in the new dress with a phone which he rented from his neighbour. The emotions travelled across the boundaries and the Bangladeshi photographer earned fans in a far away land located in the Southernmost tip of Indian subcontinent. In a conversation with Nileena Atholi, GMB Akash shares his aspirations, life and the unending quench for travel. 

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Kawsar Hossain and his daughter

About the click: They are from Dhaka, Bangladesh. I respect my subjects privacy, I never share their address after a few unpleasant incidents. For outside world it seems that all people are wanting to help, maybe many people genuinely wanting to help. But I do not want to turn this platform a charitable place. As I said, the people I photograph have dignity like you and me. They are incredible characters.

How that click changed Kawsar's life: A few of my Facebook friends donated around 50,000 Taka for Kawsar’s family. He is planning to start a vegetable business. He chose to have this business as he does not need to give rent and there is no expenses related to the business. Also, we have made necessary arrangements to send his children to school. Many people still want to help but I do not have any means to take donation from outside Bangladesh because of money transfer issues. I have no other way than giving him a good portion of money from my book ‘Survivors’ selling price. I want to thank the amazing people of Kerala who sent messages and tried their best to find ways on how they can be part of this humanitarian mission.

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Becoming a photojournalist: I was brought up in a small town named Narayangonj in Bangladesh. ‘Photojournalist’ did not exist in the circles I was brought up. My father was a government officer, so we kept moving from place to place. I loved travelling from that time. When I began to note poignant stories of those miserable souls, I found these people are the world’s best philosophers. I found how beautifully they have met pain and from the ashes of unhappiness they rose again! I wanted to show the world how beautiful some souls can be; how caring some can be in the world’s most neglected place. 

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Eye opener: That was the 'tag' I received many times from honourable juries. I do not want the world to recall me as a photographer who has won hundreds of awards or conducted exhibitions in world’s prestigious museums. I want people to remember me as a Photographer who is able to make them feel, who inspire them to stand beside another human. I want to continue to present visuals of life that may ask the people to wake from the table where humanity is lost. 

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The decisive moment: For many years I have been working on child labour as part of my project ‘Angels in Hell’: situations where childhood is sold for less than a dollar a day — and gone forever. pic-5Once an 8-year old balloon maker told me: “I took some damaged balloons for my little sister, I have no time to play. I have only time to support my parents.” It was at that point I realized I should turn my lens on lives like him. 

Who is a photo journalist: No matter what is your perspective, a photojournalist’s first quality is to embrace truth and honesty. If you remain true to your work, then your work will remain true to you. 

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Why faces: Among all, human faces are most attractive to me. Every face has a story. As a photographer, I reveal undiscovered story through my lens. Faces tell stories. I search for story behind the face, so faces are incredible to me. I always found incredible stories of lives from different places that people never pay attention. 

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A free soul that loves to travel: I have an un-resting soul. I do not know where I will be waking up next morning. I move from place to place, city to city and from country to country. I have travelled to more than 50 countries but most importantly to thousands of nameless streets. Every face I met in my journey, the music I heard on the road and the seasons inspire me. 

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On Photo School: In 2013, I founded my non-profit photo school 'First Light' (www.firstlightphotoschool.com). All the income from the school activities goes to giving free education to working children. By documenting these events, I want to encourage people to donate because we should always remember that, if we light a lamp for somebody, it will also brighten our own path.

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Future Plan: I am working on my third Photography book ‘Heroes of life’, based on true stories and real life experiences accompanying with photos. I have been working on this photography project for more than 9 years. There will be untold stories and unseen images in the book. With this book, I also want to bring the greatest possible changes into their lives. 

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On India: India is indescribably compelling. The diversity made the place one of the favourite photography destination in the world. Every visit to India brought a new discovery and invited new stories. I have done photo series on “Pink Gang”, “Suicide Cotton Farmers” and many others in India.