Another exciting week at the APF magazine street photography group as we ran a 5 day long contest on the theme “Mirror” in collaboration with Chumbak, India’s leading fashion and home decor brand. Members were asked to post their shots based on that theme on Facebook and Instagram.
After the great success of week one, we were looking forward to some topnotch photographs in week two. We are happy to say we weren’t disappointed. We look forward to all the amazing posts in the coming weeks.
A total of 1332 photographs were submitted during this weeks challenge. After going through submissions, curators selected the following 18 outstanding photographs.
After careful deliberation the award goes to Gurunathan Ramakrishnan, for the following photograph.
He gets a shopping voucher from Chumbak, we will be contacting you soon.
Do join us at the APF Group and our Instagram for more inspirations and fun. This new weekly challenge initiative will be going on for 52 weeks. The Week three challenge is “Surprise”, please follow us on Instagram and use both hashtags #apfmagazine and #apfweek3
We at APF magazine street photography group ran a 5 day long contest on the theme “Dogs” in collaboration with Chumbak, India’s leading fashion and home decor brand. Members were asked to post their shots based on that theme on Facebook and Instagram.
Week one has been a great success, we look forward to all the amazing posts in the coming weeks.
A total of 1515 photographs were submitted. After going through submissions, curators selected the following 20 outstanding photographs.
After careful deliberation the award goes to Chris Harrison, for the following photograph. A simple yet beautiful street photograph that captures the essence of street photography.
He gets a shopping voucher from Chumbak, we will be contacting you soon.
Do join us at the APF Group and our Instagram for more inspirations and fun. This new weekly challenge initiative will be going on for 52 weeks. The Week two challenge is “Mirror”, please follow us on Instagram and use both hashtags #apfmagazine and #apfweek2
For this weeks edition we spoke with Edas Wong, one of the most talented street photographers from Hong Kong. His book Re-Form is about to be released and we wanted to talk to him about his passion and what led to the making of this book.
RV : Hi Edas, welcome to APF. Have been following your work for sometime now and I am really enjoying the new works. Please start by telling us about yourself and how did you get introduced into photography?
Edas Wong : My name is Edas Wong from Hong Kong, 50 years old. I graduated from UMIST’s (Manchester, England). In “Year 2000 to 2002” and “Year 2005 to 2013”, I lived in Stockholm, Sweden and worked as an engineer in the R&D department of a leading mobile network vendor. From 2014 onward, I and my wife had then subsequently moved back to Hong Kong where I currently reside and work till now.
I started to photograph when I was dating my girlfriend (i.e., my wife now). I often borrowed her analog camera to take her portrait and scenes; however, she always complained that I was wasting her films because of strange compositions (I did not agree) and then grabbed the camera back. The year 2002, when I was on a business trip with my boss Tomas, he showed me his new digital camera, which he bought in Akihabara. Finally, I decided to own the same one so that my wife wouldn’t complain to me anymore. Since then, I started to seriously take photos, but concentrating on landscape photography. In 2011, after seeing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Valencia, Spain 1933” – I then immediately fell in love with street photography. From that point on I developed an instant and abiding passion for street photography.
RV : Layers and Juxtaposition play a key role in your pictures. Tell us more about the two and if you could share a technique or tip with our readers.
[Edas Wong] I am good in juxtaposition 😊, but not layering. However, no matter juxtaposition or layering, I think the key point to take good photos is FLOW.
In psychology, FLOW is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. On the street, I highly concentrate on all elements around me and keep imagining their connections
In Zen habits, let things FLOW naturally. On the street, I try to space out my mind, i.e. let things in then let things out, don’t keep looping in mind. When the mind is empty, imagination becomes infinite.
RV : According to you, how important is the role of vision and imagination in street photography?
[Edas Wong] Yes, both observation, i.e. vision, and imagination are important in photography. However, speaking in detail, the most important is to have an “INDIVIDUAL” way of vision and imagination.
After entering digital camera/smartphone era and having many powerful post-processing software/apps in the market, everyone can be photographer, easily manipulate to make beautiful/impressive pics and repeats what other did. I agree it could be a short cut to get praise; unfortunately, those pics are normally lack of soul. To successfully catch the reader eyes and trigger peoples to remember you from the pics, i.e. level of distinction, individual vision and imagination are necessary.
RV : What are some of your favourite places to shoot in Hong Kong?
[Edas Wong] I like to shoot at Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay because there are many peoples and many funny surrounding objects. This makes higher probability to successfully find/imagine their relationships 😊
RV : Street photography is going out there and taking pictures. How often do you shoot and do you find it challenging to shoot in the street of Hong Kong?
[Edas Wong] Before, I almost shoot every day. In weekday, I shoot before work, at lunch time and after work. In weekend, I shoot whole day. However, recently, I mainly shoot in weekend.
Hong Kong is a high dense city. There are many peoples. It is not difficult to do street photography in Hong Kong. However, as Asian, HongKonger normally has camera-shy; therefore, they don’t like to be directly flashed directly in short distance.
Furthermore, Hong Kong summer is hot and high humidity. This makes uncomfortable to continuously shoot outside for a long time.
RV : What do you do when you are not taking pictures? What are some of your hobbies?
[Edas Wong] Do nothing or reading or listening music.
I like to do nothing, i.e. just lay on sofa or chair without thinking anything. Actually, it is really hard to do nothing because something frequently gets into the mind and be kept looping. However, I try to empty it if possible.
Reading is important for life and I always grumble that I spend too short time for reading. I prefer books about Art, Zen, etc.
Regarding the music, I like canton pop. Some beautiful lyrics can help me improving imagination.
RV : Having won so many of them, how important is it for you to win awards in street photography?
[Edas Wong] It is important. For me, the main reason of entering photography contest is to understand my level of photography, i.e. how good or bad. Some contests also give me review so that I know how to improve photography. Furthermore, it can help to explore in society media.
RV : Tell us about your first book, Re-Form. Please share with us some of the challenges of making your first book and what hard work goes behind the scenes?
[Edas Wong] I have accumulated many photos in the past six years. It’s the right time to summarize what I took and to think about the next step. The theme of my photo book is “Re-Form”. These photographs are different from street photographs taken casually or those that pay much attention to the composition of images. I intended to discard all known understandings and restrictive assumptions and use the way of child’s thinking to re-comprehend the world in front of me. Then I reformed all the elements with unlimited imagination and formed all the interesting photos. In glancing through the photobook, readers will follow me to observe the street through the eye of a child. It should be fun!
The most challenge of making this photobook is the selection of photos. I have few thousand photos in my hard-disk (or few hundred photos in Flickr); however, only 88 photos were finally selected into that photobook. There was a long discussion with the book editors on the photo selections!
RV : One book that you think every street photographer should read?
[Edas Wong] The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppala. This book can make you happy and then if you are happy, you will take good pics.
RV : Lastly, what can we expect from you in the second half of 2019? Any places that you would like to travel?
[Edas Wong] Oh! It is the most difficult question for me! The schedule of my plan is normally less than a month. So, I don’t have any plan in second half of 2019. Regarding traveling, I really find interesting to travel Spain and Italy. I have never be there!
Ritesh Ghosh’s entrée into photography took a somewhat convoluted path. He studied for years to achieve an MBA in finance and then worked in the banking industry, both in Kolkata and the Middle East, for more than 8 years. A trio of unfortunate health issues allowed him the time to pursue a burgeoning passion for photography and the rest, as they say, is history. That said, Ritesh realizes his journey has just begun. I recently sat down with him to find out more about the man and get his thoughts on his photography.
Michael : Welcome Ritesh, before we get into our discussion – if you don’t mind, take me back to the beginning. Tell me about home, the environment you grew up in and your initial connection to photography.
Ritesh : Thanks, Michael, for inviting me over for this discussion. I love talking about my work and photography in general and appreciate this opportunity. Well, let’s see, I was raised in a nuclear family here in Kolkata. My dad was a government officer and my mother taught English and Science. As a child I was always creatively inclined. I liked to draw, play the guitar and recite poetry but I wouldn’t discover photography until much later on. After completing my MBA, I joined HDFC in Kolkata and worked there for 7 years before accepting a new job with Al Fardan Exchange in Dubai. My introduction to photography happened during that transition and what started as a part-time hobby quickly developed into full-blown passion. That odd set of circumstances with my health spurred me into moving back to India to pursue photography on a full-time basis. It was risky to be sure, but I felt it was something I had to do, I was answering a calling.
Michael : That must have been an interesting conversation with your parents after all those years studying and working in finance!
Ritesh : Laughs – It was difficult yes, as I’m sure you can imagine. Especially so after investing those 8 years in finance and all the time (and money) spent on my education. Of course, it wasn’t a spontaneous decision I made overnight. The health issues I referred to earlier actually flared up when I returned to India for my annual vacation. It became fairly serious and required an extended leave of absence. Unfortunately, the company didn’t approve my request for leave and I was compelled to remain in India. During my recuperation I found solace in photography, which I am positive helped me heal faster. I was already addicted to photography and it was then that I decided to commit myself to it completely. I haven’t looked back. My parents were initially very concerned with my decision but after seeing the confidence I had in myself and the growing body of work, they eventually decided to go ahead and support my calling. They’ve been great.
Michael : You’re a storyteller and I think that must have begun with your street photography. Most of your recent work has been presented as documentary. What is it about the documentary approach that appeals to you?
Ritesh : I’m glad you addressed me a “storyteller” Whether I’m shooting street or documentary photography, my primary objective is the same, to narrate the story behind the images. If we are able to create visually compelling images, ones that leave lasting impressions on the viewer, that moves the photos from snapshot to art. The street-based documentary approach helps me achieve those goals. I want to engage the viewer with my images, allowing me to narrate the stories in a concise and hopefully, visually stimulating way.
Michael : How long did that take, the discovery that the documentary approach was going to work for you? It certainly seems to be a good fit. What can you recommend for other photographers trying to find their own niche?
Ritesh : I think I got there relatively quickly. As I said it suits my goals as a storyteller. As for advice, it’s a pretty competitive world out there, with thousands upon thousands of photographers trying to get noticed. Remember that what works for you may not work for someone else and what works for someone else might not work for you. It can be frustrating trying to figure it all out but you can’t stop trying. It took me a good three years to realize that. My advice to any aspiring young photographer would be to strive to be original. Be a good human first, be kind and helpful and it will surely help you in developing yourself and in becoming a better photographer. Oh, and don’t judge yourself based on the “Likes” you get on social media. Let your content do the talking.
Michael : Much of your photography focuses on stories about Indian culture. Is there a particular reason, other than location?
Ritesh : As an Indian photographer I think it’s my responsibility to showcase the diverse range of cultural events that make India such a photogenic country. I hope viewers around the world might learn more about our country and culture through those stories.
Michael : Do you have any formal photography education, or are you self-taught?
Ritesh : No, I’m a banker turned photographer and completely self-taught. Observation has been my mentor and guide so far.
Michael : Aside from observation, any particular photographers who’ve influenced you? Any favorites?
Ritesh : Sure, many in fact. A few that immediately come to mind include Vivian Maier, Steve McCurry, Zack Arias, Vineet Vohra, Manish Khattry, Prashant Godbole and Raghu Rai.
Michael : You’ve had a lot of early success getting your work published. How did that evolve?
Ritesh : You know, I’ve actually been really lucky to have had some of my work get a bit of recognition. During my early days I used to post regularly on various photography pages on Facebook. It was there, in one of those groups, that I was approached by Tomasz Trzebiatowski of FUJILOVE MAGAZINE. He asked if he could include one of my images for publication in the maiden issue of the magazine. I was of course very excited and enthusiastically obliged. Later, I very casually expressed an interest in having a complete story published in the magazine. To my surprise, he spontaneously agreed! That was my first break, with FUJILOVE. I shared that first published piece across social media and that led to invites to write for a host of other national and international journals. Features in FUJI X PASSION followed soon after. I’ve been associated with both those publications for more than four years now and I look forward to more.
Michael : Is there any particular story you’ve worked on that sticks with you? Something that affected you deeply and shaped the way you now go about your work?
Ritesh : My recent journey to Kerala to document Theyyam, the traditional dance ritual of Malabar, has inspired me deeply. Witnessing the rigorous practices involved while preparing for the event taught me to be patient and disciplined in life. Part of the ritual involves running through fire without any precautions or protection, which in turn taught me to be fearless while taking risks. It is something which I would definitely like to imbibe going forward.
Michael : We’ll look forward in a bit, but I wonder if you might look back for a moment. If you could turn back the clock, is there one piece of advice or insight you’d like to give yourself as you were beginning your photographic journey?
Ritesh : I’m a person who believes in looking forward in life, so I would not like to travel back in time.
Michael : Really, there isn’t anything you would have told yourself as you were beginning your photographic journey?
Ritesh : Chuckles – Well, there is one thing. I would have urged my younger self to not completely quit working in the beginning. I probably could have looked at that a bit more rationally!
Michael : Okay, so what’s up next? Where do you want to go from here?
Ritesh : I’m continuing to work on documenting Theyyam, in fact I’ll return to Kerala in December. I’m taking a family trip to Bangkok in November; we’ll see what Thailand has in store. Documenting life in China, Cambodia and Cuba are all on my wish list. As for the long term, everybody loves to be recognized and I’m no exception. It would be a dream come true to be selected a Fuji X Photographer. I’d love to be able to present my work to the wider audience that association would afford. Getting published in National Geographic would be great of course, another dream come true kind of thing. Having a few books to my name is also on my list. Laughs – I guess that’s a pretty full list.
Michael : I’m hoping all those things happen for you. I know I won’t be betting against you! Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Ritesh.
Ritesh : Thanks for having me over for this wonderful session Michael. I’m really glad I could be a part of this series.
You can follow Ritesh Ghosh’s work on Instagram: Here
Sebastian Siadecki is a photographer who has lived and worked in New York City since 2001. He works in color and primarily with film, and he has been a member of the NYC Street Photography Collective since 2016.
RV: Hi Sebastian, welcome to APF. I am writing to you from sunny, New Delhi/ India and I hope the weather is not that crazy in New York as it was last week. Please start by telling our readers about yourself. Where are you originally from? What is your day job?
SS : That sounds wonderful… I’m jealous! The weather has been crazy in New York for the last month. And very cold. But spring is coming. I have faith.
About me… I’m from suburban New Jersey originally, about a 40 minute drive from Manhattan. I’ve lived in New York City since I started college in 2001. My “day job” – though often it’s an overnight job as well – is as an emergency room physician in a large hospital in Manhattan.
RV : How did you get involved with photography and why street photography?
SS : It happened very gradually. My father was a pretty avid amateur photographer, though never with any artistic inclinations. But he showed me the basics of how to work a camera. From the time I was in high school until about 4 years ago I intermittently dabbled with photography. But it was never a consistent effort and I had no idea what I was doing.
At some point I decided to buy myself a decent camera, mainly for travel. But then, over a year or two, my interest got reawakened in a much more serious way. I went to the big Garry Winogrand retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014, and though I didn’t immediately run out and shoot on the street, it was around that time that street photography started to really interest me. I began reading, watching documentaries and videos on YouTube and got myself more and more excited about it. Eventually in 2015 I went out one day with the specific intention of shooting on the street… and I’ve been really serious about it ever since.
Why street photography? I think the element of chance is what attracts me to it the most. You never know what you will encounter out there. And I love the instantaneous and intuitive aspect of it. I’m always amazed to find things in my photos that excite me but that I didn’t even notice at the time. There’s also an interesting paradox in that sometimes going out into the whirlpool of activity in a place like midtown Manhattan is quite soothing – despite being on a crowded street, I feel a certain sense of calm when I’m out shooting.
That said, my interest definitely isn’t limited to what would be considered street photography – I’m into all kinds of photography that involve an unplanned encounter with the real world. And I’m trying to expand my own shooting into other places and parts of my life.
RV : Over the years street photography keeps pushing boundaries. Privacy continues to be a battle street photographers have to fight on a daily basis. Tell us about the street photography scene in New York.
SS : In terms of privacy and ease of taking photos, the scene in New York is as open and relaxed as it could be. People generally don’t react at all to the presence of a photographer and while uncomfortable encounters sometimes occur, they’re quite rare in my experience. New Yorkers are assertive, and I think if you are assertive and confident and look comfortable in what you’re doing, people generally respond to that energy. There are a lot of street photographers in New York, but I think the scene is very open and inclusive; other photographers seem mostly happy to meet and share ideas and experiences.
RV : Have you ever got into trouble while shooting on the streets?
SS : I think everyone who shoots on the street, even in New York, runs into some unpleasant situations. But I don’t find it very exciting to talk about because it has little to do with photography itself. I think if you believe in what you’re doing, the occasional bad encounter won’t stop you. I’ve been yelled at, grabbed and even spit on once but compared to the amount of time I spend shooting, these episodes are very rare – and they’ve become even more rare as I’ve learned how to maneuver on the street.
But you have to remember that most of the people you encounter won’t have any concept of what street photography is… or be able to relate to the fact that you are out there – in their way – trying to make something beautiful. So I don’t blame someone for not understanding. Ultimately, I try to stay confident in what I’m doing and remember that I’m out there with only good intentions. If maintain that attitude then it’s hard to go wrong.
RV : What makes you keep shooting with a film camera? What are some of the films that you love shooting on?
SS : It’s hard to explain why I choose to shoot film. There isn’t any single clear reason. Probably because almost all of my photography heroes shot film, it always just made sense to me to do the same. I love the look of film, I love the feel of a mechanical film camera, and I think not being able to look at my photographs immediately is very good – it keeps me paying attention to what I see and creates an important distance and objectivity, since it’s usually a few weeks before I see the pictures. I have nothing against digital, and I shoot digitally often when I travel. But for my primary work in New York I want to keep shooting film as long as it’s available. I also started doing color darkroom printing about a year ago, and that really renewed my excitement about using film. Anyone who has access to a darkroom – especially a color darkroom – should take a stab at making prints. Creating an analog print from your own work is an incredible experience.
Film-wise, I shoot exclusively color and almost always negative film. I primarily use Kodak Ultramax 400, Lomography 800 (which is rebranded Kodak film), and sometimes Fuji Superia. All of these are considered consumer grade films and I primarily use them because they’re the least expensive. That said, I generally don’t aim for a lot of grain or a really gritty look – I prefer cleaner images. But I’m finding that the secret with color negative film is overexposing it a bit. I’m usually about 1 stop overexposed – or at least exposed for the shadows – and I find that these cheaper films all respond really well when given a lot of light.
RV : You are a member of the NYC street photography collective. Tell us more about that.
SS : Yes! It’s something I’m very excited about. NYCSPC was started by my good friend Jorge Garcia in 2015, and I’ve been involved for about 2 years. It’s a group of street photographers in NYC that meets monthly to look at and critique each other’s work, and we also publish zines of our work and organize events such as gallery shows and print swaps. And we’ve recently started teaching workshops. We’re probably the only big online photography collective that actually meets in person. There are 21 members but anyone is welcome to attend our meetings and participate. We try to be as inclusive and supportive as possible.
We also recently received official nonprofit status. Our ultimate goal one day is to have a permanent gallery and lab space that we can use to stage our shows, workshops, and meetings – essentially to be a physical home for the street photography community in New York City.
RV : Please tell us about some of the photographers who have inspired you over the years.
SS : There are many! Probably my biggest inspiration in photography is William Eggleston. His work was the first that I saw that really got me excited about photography in a deep way, and made me aware of the power of photography to turn the seemingly banal or mundane into something extraordinary. Even though his work can’t really be called street photography, his use of color, his sense of humor, and the strong personal vision that permeates all of his work have always been a huge inspiration.
In the realm of classic street photography, my other main influences are Joel Meyerowitz (especially his color work from the 1970s), Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander, William Klein, and Saul Leiter. As far as more contemporary street photographers, my main influences are probably Jeff Mermelstein and Gus Powell. A few of my other favorite contemporary photographers are Jason Fulford, Ed Panar, Alec Soth, and Justine Kurland.
There are also quite a few great photographers who I’ve become aware of through Instagram and other online platforms. Some of my favorites are Noel Camardo, Missy Prince, Daniel Arnold, Aaron Berger, Todd Gross, Kevin Samuels, and Jerry Pena. And of course, I’m constantly influenced and inspired by my peers in NYCSPC… all of them are making awesome work and I’m humbled to be included with them.
RV : A good street photograph has the power to…..Please complete that statement for us and do elaborate.
SS : … change the way the viewer sees the world. I would broaden that beyond street photography to say that is the power of all good photography… maybe even all good art. It changes perception. It creates a greater understanding. Recently I was walking with my girlfriend in Mexico City and I pointed out something interesting – I don’t even remember what it was, maybe someone’s gesture or some other small thing – and she mentioned that she would have never noticed that, and observed that my photography practice has changed the way that I see. But I believe that change can also carry over from the photographer to the viewer. Ultimately, I think street photography is a humanistic pursuit; maybe by seeing and noticing those around us more, we come to care more about each other. One can hope, anyway.
Beyond that, as the photographer, my photographs also have the ability to teach me about myself. I get to go out and try to create something in a very quick and intuitive way, and then I get to analyze the pictures that I made, and the things that drew my attention, and learn about what my own interests are.
RV : What is it you hope to achieve, either on a personal or professional level?
SS : I don’t have any professional ambitions in photography. I’m incredibly lucky that I have a fulfilling career that still allows me the time and space to pursue this passion in a deep and wholehearted way. I think if I had to shoot for a living it wouldn’t be the same. And conversely, I’m confident that I would still do this if nobody every saw it. More than anything, though, I want to keep making work; I want to keep pushing myself to do more, keep growing, and one day be able to look back at a body of work that I can be proud of. My dream would be to publish a book one day… but that’s not something I really think about much. My focus right now is on making good work.
I also want to continue to help NYCSPC grow; I believe it has the potential to become something really meaningful and unique.
RV : Lastly, any advice that you would like to share with other street photographer?
SS : Put in the time. Walk. Get out there. And don’t get frustrated if your pictures aren’t as good as you want them to be. It will take time. When I first started I had no clue how much time or effort it takes to even begin to become competent at something like street photography… or any creative pursuit. Art is long, life is short. But if you truly put in the work, eventually you will get pictures that surprise and excite you. And only then does the real enjoyment begin.
We at the APF magazine street photography group ran a 7 day long contest on the theme “APF Black and white”. Members were asked to post their favourite Black and white street photographs shot in 2018.
2,009 photographs were submitted for the theme and after going through all of these, curators had selected 20 photographs. You can see them here
Out of the 20 final images, the winner was selected, and we are excited to announce….APF Inspiration award for black and white photography goes to Dimpy Bhalotia. Congratulations Dimpy, keep up the good work.
The winning photograph
To take part in the APF awards, join the Facebook group here or follow the magazine on Instagram here.
Moises is an established architect who lives in Mexico City and loves all graphic related works. He has been producing Fine Art Works since 1990. His true passion is capturing human condition. We met up with him recently and this is what he had to share.
RV : Hi Moises, good to have you with us today. Could you tell us a little about yourself, your photography and your journey so far?
Moises : Hello I’m a deeply passionate man with a profound interest for images, space and light. I work as an architect and photographer in Mexico City, I try to mix both works with balance as one leads me to the other. My first steps into architecture and photography were when I was 14 or 15 years old, almost 40 years back, since then I live and understand my life through my eyes.
RV : You are an established architect living in Mexico, please tell us what motivated you to hit the streets for the first time?
Moises : Looking back I can say that my first images were at the streets, mainly traveling, but I couldn’t find very well how to approach street photography. I felt lost in a universe of possibilities and then I started exploring other genres as landscapes and architecture until I felt I should grow as an artist and express more emotions from life and the human being and that’s how the street become my main work space.
RV : You call yourself a Fine Art photographer and it seems you enjoy all genres. If you had to pick one out of still life, landscape, street and architecture photography what would that be and why?
Moises : For now I’m only shooting streets, I’m living a period where landscape doesn’t excite me too much. I’m searching for clever moments with coincidences, magic, and a story to tell, and this only happens on the street. On my landscape photography man was nowhere to be seen, now, the human being is always the main subject on my images.
RV : Who are some of your favorite photographers when it comes to street?
Moises : I’ve always enjoyed the work of Elliot Erwitt, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand, Herbert List, Ferdinando Scianna Capizzi, Josef Koudelka, Abbas, Attar, Ho Fan, Raghu Rai, Mario Giacomelli, Vivian Maier, and my friend Stanko Abadzic.
RV : Please tell us about your selection process, what are the things you primarily look for in a photograph when you are making a selection?
Moises : For me, photography is an extraction from reality, and when it’s captured it has its own life, it becomes independent. I always look for it to be visually attractive, balanced, with a story to tell and that it creates an emotion on the viewer.
RV : Since you practice many genres, would you say your genre has an influence on your choice of camera or do you use the same camera for all genres?
Moises : Shooting landscapes and architecture is very different from street photography. Time runs on a very different speed. Setting up the gear for landscape photography can take up to 10 minutes and just one long exposure photography takes from 3 to 5 minutes. Besides, I use medium format cameras, a tripod, filters and lots of accessories that can weight up to 20 Kg. when I shoot the streets I use only one camera and one lens.
RV : What are your thoughts on color vs. black and white? Will we ever see works from you in color?
Moises : Of course you will. For me B&W is a more powerful and conceptual tool when you are working with visually clean shapes. Color helps an image when it isn’t strong enough, because when the image is pure you don’t need any color. Though recently I’ve captured some images where I can’t seem to convert into B&W because part of the message is in the colors.
RV : As a photographer, what’s the most memorable place that you have shot in?
Moises : I’ve been in amazing places photographing landscapes and architecture. Some of them are Mexico, Iceland, China, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, England, USA, Belize, Cuba and in all of them I have stories of the places but not of the people and that led me to street photography. I was recently in Cuba and photographing its’ people has been a memorable experience. Everyone has a story to tell.
RV : Silhouettes play an important role in your works, is it a conscious decision or just a limitation of place and time?
Moises : That’s a question that I asked myself recently. Since I was photographing landscape and architecture, silhouettes were an important part of my images and when I went back to street photography I realized that the high contrast images were the most powerful for me, and they also leave something to the viewers’ imagination. It is also something that I acquire by seeing the work of Mario Giacomelli, his work inspired me into B&W and high contrast images. It gets me closer to the drawing that as an architect is part of my vocabulary.
RV : What do you hope to achieve with regards to your photography?
Moises : I’d like to keep building my style as a photographer. I believe that when someone is young they work and work without questioning much. When you grow up you realize that you need a visual vocabulary so you can explore and tell your story.
RV : Lastly, for someone starting out in the field of photography and wants to try his hands on various genres, what would your advice be?
Moises: My advice would be to start on street photography, even when it’s the most difficult of all genres. There, they will learn all the basic concepts of photography, such as knowing the space, depth, light, speed, and emotions. When they master all of these everything else will be easy and enjoyable. Lastly, Never stop looking for all kind of art.
Mou Aysha is a Humanitarian photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She loves to travel and seeks to discover the unseen. She spoke with Rohit Vohra, Co-founder APF about her creative journey so far.
RV : Hi Mou, good to have you with us. Please start by telling us how was it growing up in Bangladesh and when did you get involved with photography?
Mou : During and after my studies at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, graduating with a Masters in Applied English Linguistics, I have been following the photography workshops and courses at First Light Institute of Photography since 2014. I am currently employed as the administrator at this non-profit institute and I’m also involved as a volunteer for social and humanitarian projects of First Light Institute. I started photography as a passion and now I dedicate myself to capturing the best moments of life as I see and feel them. I believe that with empathy, compassion and love, we can change the world for the better as artists. I am a positive person who sees beauty in everything.
RV : Bangladesh has produced many photographers; do you think growing up there has had any influence on your interests and consequently your photography?
Mou: Yes. I love to travel around Bangladesh. I also love to go through other photographers’ work every day and I find inspiration from these activities and life in general.
Bangladesh has many excellent photographers and they are all very good in their field. But I am mainly influenced by the work of our legendary photographer, GMB Akash. His work and way of helping unprivileged people inspires me every day. He is our Mentor. He has an enormous impact on my work as well on my life philosophy and my views of the world around me. Many of us take photography seriously after seeing his work. He does not only take photos, he inspires you every day to be a good human soul filled with light.
RV : We do see a lot of happy faces, genuine smiles in your works and you have earlier said, “I believe with love, we can change the world for better”. Is that the message you want the viewer to take away from your photography?
Mou : I try to capture the beauty of people and their souls. Emotional connection is very important to me and to capture that I use simplicity in my presentation. I photograph simply. I narrate simply. I want to connect the viewer naturally with my images. The main challenge of my work is bringing out emotion in its simplest form. With my images I want to tug at your heart intensely.
I basically take portraits of people who are marginalised, living on the outskirts of society. I have a special affection for portraits and have therefore, produced an extensive series of them. Genuine smiles, emotions and people’s stories attract me the most. My mission for photography is to continue my journey as a passionate disciple of photography. I want to capture the purest of emotions in my photographs. I also occasionally feel inspired by other subjects and compositions and try not to limit my creative instincts. I seek to discover and photograph the unseen, therefore, I find myself becoming an explorer with a powerful desire to travel. These peripheral groups of people go through very difficult times, but still they manage to smile, they manager to persevere. To me they seem like heroes.
RV : What is it about people and places that draws you to them?
Mou : Photography is more my passion than my profession. It means a lot to me personally and I find a great deal of satisfaction and challenge in this art.
I only shoot what I feel is important to me. I go out to take photos because it’s fascinating to me and because I am curious about people, their lives, their culture and their faces.
Every time I go out with my camera I feel happy. Every new place and all new people I encounter make me happy. I become attached to some of my subjects and we sometimes become friends. They have a strong impact on me and I keep remembering their faces. It’s very rewarding for me to present them with their photos and this makes them very happy. Sometimes I return to the places to share some good moments with them, not only for photography.
RV : When did you get involved with social work and what inspired you to help others?
Mou : As a student at First Light Institute of Photography, I saw how the director and master photographer, GMB Akash, could change thousands of people’s lives with his humanitarian work. He inspired me to help others and changed my idea of life itself.
I started to actively participate as a volunteer for First Light Institute’s humanitarian projects from the beginning of my studies there. So far, I have been involved in gifting 50 different businesses to different unprivileged families which changed their lives completely.
One of the missions of my photography is to help the people I am working with. These people make me understand how beautiful life is and how easily we can help each other. I always want to do something for them rather than only taking their photos. They are more important to me than my photos.
Now in my capacity as Administrator for the First Light Institute, I participated in setting up a school in a remote village where 120 students are getting free education, whereas, their parents have never been to school. There are many more activities that the Institute has initiated in which I’m involved but the list is quite long to describe everything.
Sometimes we try to do other charitable activities such as distributing new clothes or sandals to street children as well as feeding them a good meal in a restaurant which is a rare moment for them. The Institute has also collected and distributed toys to child labourers and new clothes to the elderly during festival times as well during the winter time.
RV : Do you also travel outside of Bangladesh to capture other cultures? If you had the opportunity where would you like to travel?
Mou : I mainly work in Bangladesh as its people and places are magical, but I would also love to travel to all the places that I have never been. I have a long list of places to which I will travel very soon. I mainly want to travel to south Asian countries like Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam but there are also many more places that interest me.
RV : What place or experience involving photography that you’ll never forget?
Mou : I have a lot of memorable experiences. Every person I met was like a new experience. I don’t just go there and take photos and leave. I spend a lot of time with the people I photograph. I build up a relationship before I take photos. Sometimes I spend the entire day for one portrait.
Spending time with these soulful, beautiful people is the most valuable experience I cherish. Photography changed my life. Because of photography I travel intensely around my country which has helped me to meet some incredible humans from different cultures and backgrounds. Their life experiences changed my views on life. I have learned that simplicity is the key of life.
RV : What projects can we expect from you in the future? Would you like to share anything with our readers?
Mou : I intend to be travelling more to be able to grow as a person and become more sensitive as an artist to capture the beauty of different people and places.
I want to travel to every single place in Bangladesh and take photos of all the beautiful people I will encounter. I want to have a solo exhibition soon with all of those portraits that I will take and some of those that I have already taken.
RV : In your photography you focus on emotions as much as you do on the technical aspects. Could you elaborate on that?
Mou : I take simple images primarily of people. I try to take portraiture images with simplicity, but which also reflect a soulful mood and a deep human connection. In addition to the uncomplicated composition, the people whom I photograph are incredibly beautiful and brave. And I believe that this is what sets my work apart from others. For me the people are more important than any defined photography style I follow.
RV : Where do you see or hope to see yourself with photography in the coming years?
Mou : I actually don’t have a specific plan. I don’t live by plans. Every day is a gift to me and I want to live my life fully. I want to do something for society and my people. But I also want to be happy. These are my main goals in life. In five years I want to publish my book with the best portraits that I have taken. I also want to do something for the people I photograph.
RV : Any last piece of advice that you would like to share with our readers?
Mou : Be honest and respectful to the people you photograph. Work really hard and take photos every day. Love your life and always be positive. Learn to be happy in every situation and never give up on your dreams.
Thank you for taking the time out for us Mou, We wish you all the best for your future endeavours.