Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
I am Md. Shamim ul Islam, a self-taught photo artist from the green city of Chattagram, also known as Chittagong, Bangladesh. I’ve always been interested in street and documentary photography and my journey taking this kind of photograph began in 2018.
Tell me a little about Bangladesh. What’s it like there in general, and what is it like for a street photographer?
Honestly, Bangladesh and the people of Bangladesh are very friendly. Life here is very colorful. For the street photographer, there is almost everything you could wish for in order to capture all the wonderful moments.
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
Right here in my hometown of Chittagong, Bangladesh. In fact, the alleys here, the people, the sea, the play of light and shadow in the falling of afternoon are my favorite. Chittagong is a city of people who are vibrant and active, which inspires me to get out of the house with my camera.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
There are many famous photographers who inspire me. Among them are GMB Akash, Anaamul Kabir, Imam Hasan, and many other talented photographers, some of whom are quite young.
I really like the images you’ve taken of people offloading coal from ships. Tell me more about those images.
When I took those photos, workers were offloading coal from the inner area of the ship by means of a bamboo ladder. I came in for a closer look and took the photos. Many women workers could be seen there. They work for extremely low wages, even though they work just as hard as the other male workers.
What are the photos of the flooded hospital about?
These were taken at a maternity and children’s hospital in Chittagong. I saw a mother waiting for the doctors to come for the treatment of her child, even though the hospital was flooded due to sudden heavy rains and high tides. Because the hospital is in low lying area, it is submerged in tidal water for a certain period of time every day during monsoon season. When I took these photos, the hospital was submerged for a few days due to rain. The ground floor of the hospital has an emergency department, outpatient department, child development center, ENT and 60-bed children’s ward all of which get crammed into the pediatric patient wards upstairs when it floods. The patients then have to be shifted to other places in the hospital.
You are quite the documentary photographer. What kind of stories are your favorite to tell with your camera?
I always try to visualize a story and then bring it to life through my camera. To be clear, I take photos for myself. It’s something I love to do. I like to represent the inner story of the people. When I roam around, especially in rural areas, I find that sometimes a very ordinary scene can create a very strong emotion. When that happens I instantly try to push the shutter of my camera.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in street photography and how have you overcome them?
My biggest challenge is getting confronted by people who are angry or complain because I’m taking photos. But to be honest, I’ve grown used to their anger. And I try to make them feel comfortable by smiling in response, treating them kindly, and explaining to them what I’m doing. I try to help them understand why I’m taking a photograph of them. As a result, they are always friendly with me. Then I can take photographs of the moments spent with them too.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
It was a day when I was going back home from work. This particular day, I noticed two kids playing on the train and then the security there told them to get off. The boys got scared and started running on the train. It reminded me of my own school days, which I can’t go back to. In the photo you can see the boy jumping from one wagon to another. Just at that moment I took the picture.
What has street photography taught you?
Photography is more than a hobby, it’s a passion for me. Street photography has taught me a lot about how to be a better human being 😊
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Shamim and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream . This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.