Social Media has taken online communications to the next level, giving photography enthusiasts a way to connect and share their work and inspire like-minded enthusiasts, be it of amatuer or professional status. Personally, I set very high standards for my own work, and the same set of standards for those photographers I admire. Every now and then you come across a new photographer you haven't heard of and I had that moment recently while viewing my Facebook timeline.
While doing my usual run down my news feed filled with the usual selfies, complaints about daily life, and crazy posts about Trump, I came across a picture by a picture posted by a guy named Muhammad Imam Hassan.
The picture hit me hard because of the amazing amount of detail, layers and complexity. I was also excited to see it had been shot on the new Huawei P9 (co-engineered by Leica), which happens to be my choice of camera-phone....in case you hadn't noticed. The camera-phone has become an essential tool for many photographers, especially those who hit the street, but I have yet to see such brilliant street and documentary work that matches the imagery I've seen from Muhammad, with his P9. I contacted Muhammad recently and asked if he'd take the time to answer some questions about his work with the P9 and work in general. I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.
1. Tell us 3 things about yourself that some of your fans wouldn’t know.
Thank you very much Kristian Dowling for Interview and exploring my works.
a) I am very fond of street foods, walk - stop – shoot - eats street foods and repeat it again and again
b) I have severe G.A.S syndrome (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) though I believe in Single camera - Single Lens
c) Always try to keep honest myself. I always shoot candid. Sometimes a little bit setup or staging could made my photograph working or outstanding but I never did that.
2. How did you get started with street photography?
I started taking photos in 2013 with capturing my little daughter’s photograph. Then I discovered my deep interest about photography day by day, and more on street photography. I feel deep interest to observe people activities from close and freeze them in my frame and let it live forever.
3. As a child physician, how does your daily job influence your work on the street?
Photography is basically my passion and I used to spend week holidays and leisure time practicing Street Photography. Deep passion and love force me out with camera. Most of my work is based on the city of Dhaka as I don’t get too much time to travel and shoot outside of Dhaka. Being a doctor it has two sided effects.
I work in the largest child hospital of Bangladesh. During shooting in street if I face any confrontation after giving my identity the scenario become opposite; people begin to respect me and they feel I am harmless.
In my local living area - people thought a doctor will be a suited booted moody man. Whenever they found me with a black t-shirt and a small camera in hand, they surprised and their strange round eyes begin to tell me “this doctor is a gone case”. So I feel very uneasy to shoot in my local area.
In my hospital - my colleagues thought my career is gone. My patients love to see me with stethoscope to serve them rather than with camera. I have tried so many times to shoot candid moments of hospital patients but I failed to shoot; failed to deny their poor eyes.
4. I’ve noticed your work is reminiscent of various photographers like Alex Webb (layers), Raghubir Singh (personal and raw) and Constantine Manos (use of colour) to name a few. What key attributes have you taken from the work of such photographers, and how did you implement it into your own work?
Thank you very much Kristian Dowling, You have explored my works very deeply. I did not notice it clearly before your mention. I am very much fond of Master Alex webb’s work and inspired a lot… I like to include so many elements in different layers with multiple activities and stories. About Raghubir Singh, this master is from same region which I belong… so subjects and environments are same and I am naturally influenced by him by adding human interaction from very close. Master Constantine Manos, his color choice and management in image just amazing and inspiring.. I wish if I could manage color like or minimum to near him.
5. Your style to me is very documentary-like, as apposed to being the modern ‘street’ style that incorporates more contradictions, comedic and strange elements within the pictures. Is this a reflection of how you like to work, the environment, or a type of style you’re aiming for?
The geographical region I belong; life style, climate, environment are very complex. Here people are fighting daily for survival and that’s why Documentary Photography is predominant here. I love and try to put those candid moments from very close in my frame.
6. What are your objectives and goals when out on the street in search of great pictures?
While walking in street I love to observe people’s activities, their daily stories from close. Try to find out interesting moment and elements; try to see from different perspective. During shooting in street, I always trust my instinct. Yes I have a big fascination to capture candid moments in a filled frame with multiple activities in layers; Chaotic frame with million stories, visually connected to the each other in order to create “a visual harmony".
7. Flash is becoming more popular on the streets today by street photographers, probably due to the acceptance of cameras and camera phones in society, and the influence of photographers like Bruce Gilden and Martin Parr. What motivated you to break away from the tradition of ‘available-light only’ photography to include flash?
I always love to shoot in ambient light. In last December 2015; light was very dull and gloomy in Dhaka , We Insight Collective (I am a founder member) decided to take a challenge by shooting with Flash for Six months. Believe me it was very challenging as flash is not familiar on Street but people were very friendly and we did not face any contradiction. Everyone were curious how people reacts with flash on street but we successfully finished it and flash is using on street here very frequently now.
8. Along with your main working camera, you’ve been using the new Huawei P9, with a Leica designed dual lens module. What was the reason for employing the use of a camera phone in your photography?
You know we street photographer always hunt for moments and you don’t know when you get that moment. Its not possible to carry professional camera all time and that’s why mobile camera becoming a part photography as it always keep in pocket and always on. Moreover people are very damn care about mobile camera.
Huawei P9 is designed by Leica with dual lens module - I'm just in love with it.
9. What are the specific features you like most about using the Huawei P9?
I love its camera most. Huawei P9 Camera is designed by giant camera manufacturer Leica and RAW supported.. before buying it was my only thought. Now it’s in my hand and amazed by its performance.
- Dual lens with dual sensor; so its allow more light so I can keep shutter speed comfortable to make steady shot even in low light.
- RAW supported (file size about 24-25 mb) so I feel relax about post processing.
- It supports full manual settings; so I can set camera as I need.
- If I keep camera on standby.. Just with one touch it become active and I can jump for capture image.
- Image in JPEG is very impressive with vibrant color and tone
- Aperture priority mode… very impressive. Its digital DOF is very impressive and almost high professional look.
10. What project(s) are you currently working on?
That's very tough question for me.
I think i am a single image maker than projects or series.
But I feel courage for project and working on T-shirt, Train Window and Selfie
11. What advice would you give to new aspiring street photographers?
Study is the best way to learn any type of photography. With this I think people need eyes for photography.. For aspiring street photographer five facts should remember:
1. Out for photowalk as much you can, shoot more and believe on your Instinct
2. Always carry camera ( if DSLR is not possible then carry good mobile camera) and Go close enough
3. Avoid overlapping as you can
4. Good figure to ground
5. Add compositional elements as u can in your frame and
6. Always give Smile with thanks if eye contact with subjects but never bargain or argument.
Thanks so much for your time and insight into your amazing work Muhammad. You are truly an inspiration to me, and I hope others also find you just as inspiring after reading this article. KD