2009 saw Travel Photographer of the Year’s first winner from the Indian sub-continent when Bangladeshi photographer, G.M.B. Akash pick up the award.
1) How old were you when you got your first camera?
At the age of 20 my photo life begins. In my environs and in the space I was brought up in no one ever thought a boy can dedicate himself for photography. Throughout my childhood I did not have access to photographers, their work, or even a camera. Photography did not exist for me in theory or in practice. I held my father’s old camera and started taking pictures unconsciously in 1997. Since then I have not stopped clicking for a single day. I am represented by Panos Pictures and as a multimedia journalist I am giving my efforts to making both images and video documentation.
2) Who or what inspired you to become a photographer and why travel photography?
For me photography is my language, to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it ‘hear’. I cannot remain mute about the oppression that divides human beings, which is one of the reasons why I took up photography. Cheers to the people who bring more to the table and ask the world to wake up. Through my photography I simply want to bring ‘justice’ in the lives of people I have depicted so far.
3) What was the best photography or travel advice you were ever given?
‘Click, click and keep clicking, until your thirst becomes eternal, until you make your own kind’. I am following this rule throughout my lifetime.
4) Photography or Travel which comes first and what does it mean to you?
I am a travelholic. You can call me a gypsy mind. I love to travel extensively with my camera. Without my camera, I cannot pass a day.
5) What challenges you most with photography?
Unless I can acpture the feelings of the photograph through my camera, the photograph seems meaningless to me. For me the main challenge is to transmit the deepest meaning in the photograph to its viewer’s heart. It takes a long time. I wait for the moment; I go to places over and over again. I spend hours and hours for the right moment. Surprisingly, while I am waiting for something expected to happen, I get several shots without anticipation.
6) What does photography bring to your life?
Through photography, I can jot down my heart’s language. Photography is a means to an end for me which creates a bridge between me and the people I care for. Photography makes me able to do something about the world of injustice. Through it I encounter my reincarnation – it is the greatest gift photography brings in my life.
7) Whose photographs hang on your walls at home?
It’s my own customised gallery. Nothing lavish but intimate. Holding the work of photographers that I admire most. From James Nachtwey to Sebastiao Salgado. Images of photographer friend Cole Thompson, Zoriah Miller, David Bathgate, Gaetano Plasmati and many other artists’ illustrations.
8) It’s been 4 years since you won Travel Photographer of the Year. What has the road been like since and how did TPOTY affect it?
Recognition always works as great inspiration and appreciation from people is like inspiration for more achievements. TPOTY had a great contribution in my working career and I think all the other winners will receive the same honours from wider audiences as well as from professionals.
9) No photographer has ever won TPOTY twice. Do you plan on entering the competition again? If not, why not?
Why not? TPOTY judges images based on the criteria rather than who the photographer is. So if the images are good enough it could happen a photographer might get the award twice.
10) Of all the winning images from TPOTY over the years, are there any that stick in your mind?
The winning image of Larry Louie in 2010. As a humanitarian documentary photographer he is exploring the lives of remote indigenous people, and moving forwards in documenting social issues around the world. I admire him as an optometrist personally; through him I understand how Larry adjusts people’s visual perception with photography. His photographs remind me that he is interested in things that exist outside the regular field of vision.
To find out more about GMB Akash please visit www.gmb-akash.com
Or by visiting his blog www.gmbakash.wordpress.com