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‘I like every photo I see, because there is always something interesting’

  • Published at 02:02 pm May 26th, 2019
Pinu Rahman
Shuvo Khan

Q&A with photographer Pinu Rahman

Pinu Rahman’s passion and profession never converged, but he’s been able to parallelly exit in both worlds. 

A banker by profession, Pinu kept his artistic drive for photography alive and nurtured it. This brought him some accolades and recognition. 

This year he won an award in the ‘Best of Nation’ category in the World Photographic Cup 2019, a competition organized by the Federation of European Photographers, and Professional Photographers of America. Titled ‘Lost Childhood’, the photo captures a child labourer working near a furnase in a dockyard. 

D2 spoke with Pinu Rahman to know more about him and his photography. 

What is the story behind the photo that won the ‘Best of Nation’ award?

The photo was taken at a dockyard just opposite to Dhaka’s Sadarghat area. I had been going there for a while to take photos. The focus was to document the process of making ship-propellers and the life of the labourers that work there. 

The kids working there got to know me over time and they were always amused when I turned up with my camera. They used to talk to me between their work and I took photos. This photo is from there. 

Why did you submit this particular photo? There must be other snaps you took that you like.

That’s a great question. I thought this was one of the most powerful photos I took in recent time. Whenever I look at this photo it appears multilayered in its scope and meaning. I thought it is able to provoke thought. 

The funny thing is the photo was not among the 18 photos that were to be sent from Bangladesh, because I couldn’t pay the entry fee in time for personal reasons. But the judge from Singapore Matthew Tan asked the organizers to include ‘Lost Childhood’ in the primary selection. He must have felt something too. 

When did you start taking photoPhoto: Pinu Rahman s and why? 

I used to make clippings from newspaper photos when I was little. I always loved photos.

After my SSC I bought a camera with the ‘salami’ money from relatives. I started taking photos of my friends. After starting university I was inspired by a friend who was also very passionate about photography. Her motivation helped me grow a stronger love for photography. I think there is a different kind of thrill in capturing time by taking picures. 

By the way, the friend from university happens to be my wife now. We have two beautiful children.

Among Rabindranath, Nazrul and Sharatchandra, who will like your photos most? 

That’s a tough question. I fear none of them will like my photo. But in your proposed fantasy if they were to come across an exhibition by me, I think there might be something for everyone of them to like. 

So, I think Nazrul will like ‘Lost Childhood’. There are elements of ‘rebellion’ in it. You could perhaps inject language of silent protest in what the photo means. I can imagine Nazrul appreciating this. 

There is a portrait that I like very much. It’s a photo of a pregnant mother standing behind a window. I took the photo in a pottery community neighbourhood, so I titled it ‘Laments of a clay bird’. I think this might be something Sharatchandra will find interesting. 

As for Rabindranath, I’m too much of a fan or devotee to venture a guess. I will refrain out of reverence. 

When was the last time you were moved by a photo and who was the photographer? 

I try to explore new photos everyday. This is easy now because of digital access. When I look at a photo I don’t only see the captured image, I try to feel the photograPhoto: Pinu Rahman pher behind the frame. How much they worked for it and so on. That is probably why I like every photo I see, or perhaps you could say I try to find something I like in it. 

I was looking at photos by the famous Raghu Rai during our liberation war. The struggles of people in the refugee camps, patriotism, battlefields and finally people returning home - all of these images captures my imagination. I find myself particularly impressed by the kind of dedication to photography that is needed to document what he did in a conflict zone.

What are some of your favourite films? 

‘Jibon Theke Neya’, ‘Pather Panchali’, ‘Hirok Rajar Deshey’, Children of Heaven’, ‘Bicycle Thief’, ‘Forrest Gump’, ‘The Philadelphia Story’, ‘Roman Holiday’ and many more. 

What will fulfil you as a photographer? 

To be able to take a photo that will interest people long after I am gone. I want to take photos that will help society take steps toward progress, something that makes society more humane.

The Syrian refugee crisis in Europe was a massive humanitarian situation. European countries were quite strict on the refugees. At that time the photo of Aylan Kurdi’s dead body on the beach, taken by photojournalist Nilüfer Demir, fundamentally impacted the policy discussion. I think that is the success of that photo.