Jashim Salam, a Chittagong born young photographer, who has claimed much international recognition in recent years, iconizes the photography industry of Bangladesh with ample supply of spirit and talent. In January 2012 Jashim won the FCCT Photojournalism Award in Thailand just right after winning the 2nd Prize at People and Planet contest in Australia in October, 2011. Also in 2011, one of Jashim’s photographs titled ‘Jute Monstar’ won the first prize at the sixth Emirates Photography Contest 2011. But Jashim’s journey towards such international fame and glory was not that easy as Jashim too had to struggle with the odds that exist in our society.
Jashim comes from an average middle class family and like most parents his parents wanted him to become an engineering or business graduate and go for a traditional 9 to 5 job or to look after the family business. But Jashim’s ever compelling curiosity for creative forms of expression, be it music or painting, always enthralled Jashim. “After completing a basic photography course at Chittagong in 2005, I first realized that my true passion lay with photography, the ultimate power to capture the essence of a thousand words in a flash” – Jashim revealed when asked on where it all started. Jashim considers the 2008’s Asahi Shimbun recognition, organized by the All-Japan Association Of Photographic Societies (AJAPS), as the turning point of his career when his family started to recognize and value Jashim’s work.
Salam's award winning photo 'Jute Monster'
In his early days as a photographer Jashim used to take his camera and went out to take photograph of the streets every day. ‘The streets have always intrigued me. The evolving dynamics and vibrancy of it, the power of the youth and the person that drives the engine of our cities are just some of the elements I found quite interesting when I started to observe the streets and taking pictures of them….’ Jashim expressed in own motion. Documenting people’s life and their way of interaction is one of Jashim’s like worthy areas. Social photo-documentary seems to be his niche. Often he uses it to show the life of underprivileged or disadvantaged people. “To me, photography is a tool for showcasing some of the intriguing and perhaps disturbing elements, e.g. huge class disparity, the growing poverty and the impacts of climate change in our country, that exists in our very society” as Jashim reflected.
Idols like French Henry Cartier Bresson, father of modern photojournalism and James Nachtwey, the famous American war photographer, have inspired Jashim through printed books, which along with the free contents available on the web, according to Jashim, were very instrumental for developing his photography skills. “When you put your fingers through those fine prints of photographs in books, you seem to organically feel the texture and the style of photography through those prints”.
When asked about the highs and lows of a photographer’s career Jashim replied that ”the greatest highlights in one’s professional career as being a photographer are when his work becomes the iconic impetus for a significant positive change in his society. For example, in the Egypt Revolution, photography was instrumental when it came to making people aware of the problems that exist in their society. Besides as a human being, I feel a person can take pride to be a part of something that is beautiful. But a photographer has to research a lot and capture it from his own angle”. When asked about the today’s youth Jashim firmly snapped ‘take your time to discover what makes you happy rather tagging along with the hype around you. Patience is important. With these two, happiness and success is bound to come’.
Jashim Salam’s work has been published in numerous national and international newspapers, magazines and publications including The Sunday Times Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Himal South Asian, Better Photography, The Climate Crisis, CNN, National Geographic online, Reuters, Forum Magazine, Daily Star, New Age, Prothom Alo, New Nations, UNESCO and many others. His photographs were exhibited in many countries including France, UAE, China, UK, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Russia and USA.
You can view more of Salam's work in the Gallery section of the website.
The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.2, dated July 2012.