Thank you Muhammad Imam Hasan for being the honourable Guest Mentor of In-Street Monthly Thematic Contest, December 2018.
We are very happy to publish an exclusive interview withMuhammad Imam Hasan to know his view and approach to Street Photography.
– Please tell us a bit about yourself and How did you start in photography?
[Imam] I am Muhammad Imam Hasan, born and brought up in the capital Dhaka; Bangladesh. I am professionally a Child Specialist working at Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital and a Street Photographer driven by passion. I am also a Fujifilm X photographer from Bangladesh and have recently joined as a Faculty member at Counter Foto photography institution.
During my school life, I got a Yashika MF-2 as gift from my maternal uncle and used to take family photos.
During my wife’s pregnancy, I bought a digital camera and started shooting my wife’s monthly stages and after delivery of my daughter, her photographs. With each passing day, I discovered my deep interest in photography. In March, 2013, I joined Pathshala and completed a Basic and Foundation course on photography. Initially, I liked shooting Travel or Life Style but gradually, I realized that I loved to observe street, people, their moments and fragmented subtle stories. From 2014, I started taking Street Photography very seriously. I like to shoot complex layers, emotions and precious moments of people.
– What makes street photography so special for you and what according to you makes a good street shot?
[Imam] When a viewer can connect with a photograph easily, is able to interpretate and finally able to discover the photographer’s untold story, then the photograph is successful and is a good image. The photograph should grab the viewer’s attention and stay with him for long.
– These days we are so much bombarded with information and have masters images we look at on the internet for reference. So how does it affect when we are on the streets, how can we try to be original in our approach?
[Imam] Yes it has a double sided effect.
Positive effect is that we are lucky to see so many good photographs in one place which enrich our knowledge and can be a source of inspiration to explore street. Whenever I feel bored and frustrated, I open Alex Webb’s book “Sufferings of light”, Raghu Rai’s “Calcutta” which always give me instant inspiration to hit the street with full energy.
Negative effect is that after seeing so many photographs, our brain gets pre-equipped with already captured good photographs. While shooting, our subconscious mind and brain automatically start searching for same shot and if we are unable to control our mind, then we start to feel frustrated and that may not get us good/unique shot.
My philosophy in this regard…
“Take inspiration from Masters but don’t follow/copy them”
If you copy anyone’s photograph then people will say “the image is very good and looks like ……’s photo.” That means you are indirectly doing marketing for that Master and not for yourself. Having said that, it is also important that you see Master’s work and train your brain to enrich your creativity and do something new.
“During shoot listen to your HEART but during edit listen to your BRAIN.”
In street you do not have time to think. If you think too much you may miss the moment. So listen to your heart and shoot. If you shoot you may get a decent shot but if you don’t shoot, you will miss the moment 100%.
During editing, be very harsh, use your aesthetic sense, use trained brain. Never show your weak photographs.
– Tell us about your approach on the streets.
[Imam] There is no time to shoot other than holidays. On holidays, I love to go out very early in the morning, in my black t-shirt, with headphone and camera in hand. I am very fond of street foods, so I do this… walk– stop – shoot – eat street food and repeat it again and again which creates a strong bonding with street.
While walking the street, I love to observe peoples’ activities, their daily stories, from close. I try to find out interesting moment and elements and try to see from different perspective. While on street, I always trust my instinct. Yes, I have a big fascination to capture candid moments in a filled frame with multiple activities in layers, a chaotic frame with million stories, visually connected to each other in order to create “a visual harmony”.
– Projects or single images?
[Imam] I shoot single images and when I find similar images, I plan for a series. However, I admire project because it is more planned, organized and tells a full story.
– The important lesson you’ve learned being a street photographer.
[Imam] While shooting I have got chance to hear different stories, reaction from people, from which I realized that one should be honest and should have empathy for people.
– What advice would you offer any aspiring street photographers?
- Always carry your camera with you.
- Be a hunting dog on street. Even when you are drinking tea keep your mind open for moments.
- Be curious.
- “Stay hungry Stay foolish” Never be satisfied with your work. Try to do better than yesterday.
- Don’t show your weak photographs.
– Your favourite photographers and any reference books?
Raghu Rai : India Reflections in Black & White, Calcutta
Henri Cartier-Bresson : The Decisive Moment
Alex Webb : The Suffering of Light
Raghubir Singh : The Ganges
Tavepong Pratoomwong : Good Day Bad Day but Everyday