GMB Akash is one of the most well known names in the photojournalism world today. A humble man who has created a legacy at a very young age. He is a source of inspiration for many photographers in Asia. Akash talks to us about his journey, the ups and downs and how he was able to conquer all odds.
Q. Hi Akash, welcome to APF. First of all let me tell you I am a big fan of your work and have been following you for a long time. Before we start, please tell our readers about yourself and what draws you to photography?
A. Twenty years ago, a boy from nowhere dreamed of having a life that he truly wanted to live. A life that is worth living, worth dreaming. People around me had no idea about photojournalism. At that time, parents supported you even if you wanted to be an artist, illustrator or an actor/singer. But ‘photojournalist’ did not exist in the circles that I was brought up in. I have been criticised for my dream every single day. When I was working with the gay community, people called me gay, when I was documenting sex workers, people pointed at my character, when I was documenting child labourers, people said he was selling poverty. I only listened to what my heart told me that is to bring out the truth in the light. Now I am working and traveling almost 365 days a year. I have photography assignments to carry out, personal photography projects to continue. Besides I have a Photography institute (First Light Institute of Photography (www.firstlightphotoshcool.com) which has hundreds of aspiring photography students. I also take One on One exclusive Photography program (www.gmbakashworkshop.com).
After all my professional commitment I also have to give time to my 500 unprivileged children who are continuing education by my self-funding, there are 50 ‘Survivors’ families whom I have to look after. I pour my heart and soul to depict the incredible human’s beings and continue to write the narrative of their life experiences. I am continuing to write and capture the beauty of the people and their souls.
Q. You have come a long way. There were times when you didn’t have the money to buy film rolls to now when people from all over the world follow you and you have won numerous international awards along the way. Tell us about the ups and downs in your journey?
A. I started photography with my father’s old camera. And my mother was the only enchanted viewer of my photographs. At the beginning it was difficult for them to understand what I wanted from my life. My freedom fighter father only wanted me to engage in something that will bring change in my country. And my dream never flew from the small window of my small house. I have experienced pain, suffering, trauma which was required to face this journey I am taking in. I was not aware of my ultimate destination, but that intense vulnerability prepared me to embrace my destiny. Now whenever I am working, if any of my photography subject cry I do not stop them, do not console them, I sit still. Because it is okay to cry and make sure to cry a lot. It is okay to have pain, suffering, and heartbreak. The tears are going to bring rainbow in our cloud. And there is no need to regret about all the mistakes we have done, suffering we have faced. If there is no trauma, there is no treasure. From the beginning, I was producing intense kind of Photo Story, which needed a great involvement from my side too. I told myself, ‘Your heart is going to take you to a fearful journey. Continue, no matter how devastating it seems. Because your heart knows where your treasure is’.
Photo Agency: www.panos.co.uk
Photo Archive: www.akash-images.com
Photography Institute: www.firstlightphotoschool.com
Photography Workshop: www.gmbakashworkshop.com
Read the full interview in the latest issue of APF Magazine. Download HERE from the iOS store today.