Meeting Akash

About a week ago I saw a short report on TV about a photographer from Bangladesh named Akash, who spent 2007 living and working in Hamburg. The report showed a few of his images (a mixture of images made in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Hamburg), and I was stunned. I got online, found Akash’s web page, and looked and looked…

Akash does not make pretty pictures. He photographs almost exclusively people on the edge of society — the exploited, poor, old, weak, the homeless, the forgotten — calling our attention to aspects of modern life that should be urgently addressed. Yet many photographs are positive in nature. They show that no matter how hard life might be, people manage to make ends meet, no matter how weak you might be, someone still lends you a hand, and no matter how alone, there is at least one photographer who cares…

Think of Akash as Steve McCurry, but with a passion for his subjects. Most amazing to me however was that Akash managed to keep his style even when photographing in Hamburg and his images lost none of their poignancy, even though life here is so very different from life in his homeland.

GMB Akash Web Page

I wished I could meet Akash, maybe get to know him a bit, so I wrote hims an e-mail and he replied quickly. He was about to leave Hamburg and return to Bangladesh in a few days, he wrote, but suggested that we meet anyway. Amazing, taking the time when he surely had ten thousand other things to do in his last days here!

Last night I visited Akash and we talked at length. It was amazing to meet such an incredibly kind and caring person. I’ll say no more, but I’m so sad that he is leaving…

I looked at Akash’s web page again today, and I know that I’ll be visiting India again and probably some of the other south-Asian countries. I also know that my images will never match Akash’s (probably because I lack his background and his compassion), but I do have my own view, so I’ll be looking for my own images anyway.

Anyhow, a warm farewell to Akash and best of luck for him and his family!

PS: By the way, I’m not the only one fascinated by Akash’s photographs. His work has been featured in over 40 major international publications including Time, Newsweek, Geo, Stern, Der Spiegel, The Economist, Die Zeit, FAZ, Westdeutsche Allgemeine, Frankfurter Rundschau, Hamburger Abendblatt, El Mundo, etc.

PPS: Till December 28 there is an exhibition of Akash’s work in Hamburg’s City Hall. That’s only a week from now, so hurry up and don’t miss it!

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