Emad B M Hassan creates magic with his sense of lighting
A photographer gives life to an image so that the world can find meaning in it. A few pictures can create a sensation. A photographer is responsible for creating the attraction and connection between a picture and the audience. They capture your attention at first glance with the images they create. Their task is to work with distance, to take measures, to re-arrange space, to find an equilibrium between here and there, and ultimately to seek out the impossible meanings of a place and capture the feelings of a person or a situation. And mostly they are known as storytellers. They hold immense power to present their thoughts or the reality of this world with their pictures.
In this storytelling business, which is rapidly booming, there are very few names known for their unique style. And Emad B M Hassan is another name you need to know who gives profound meaning to all his work and creates magic with his sense of lights.
Photography has always been a passion for Emad, but around the year 2014, he decided to give life to his dream. He commonly goes by the name EmTree. He is also known as a digital content creator and a marketing consultant. As a creative with a business degree (and a not-so-mild coffee addiction), he also founded Studio Baklava, a creative entity, which is a collaboration of two other fellows, Galib Hasan and Farhan Shakir.
We recently got the chance to talk to this brilliant mind behind the camera.
How did you come to this field?
Photography has always been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. However, I got into this field professionally in 2014, when I was in the second year of university, just a little while after I bought my first professional camera. I was asked by Farhad, one of my best friends, for some help with a video project and I figured why not? It might be fun. Just like that, one project led to another, and another, so on and so forth, and before I knew it, I started falling in love with the profession. I realized that this is the career path I wanted to pursue at a certain shoot where we were out in the field for about twelve hours and moved all around Dhaka; it was at the end of that day when I had an epiphany: “If I had to do this all over again the next day, I would, in a heartbeat.”
Are you a self-taught photographer or did you study photography?
Since that moment, my goal has been to enhance my skills and solidify my style. Combining my knowledge in Marketing with my skills as a photographer and cinematographer, I aim to produce content from short films, to educational materials. I believe the creative field is a platform made for collaboration and creation, and I aim to help others build their creative presence as well.
What did you enjoy shooting the most and why? Do you have any specialty in this field?
After over five years in the field, teaching myself as much as possible, I’ve developed a soft side towards food photography and cinematography, if I had to pick. Food is another thing that has a special place in my heart. This fascination towards food photography grew even more after I met up with Elma, Sameera, and Shafquat. We combined our talents and formed Order of Knives, which was a food blog full of original content aiming to spread the love and knowledge of all things food. Along with many others, I owe immense gratitude to these three people for my growth in this career. Even though my specialty lies in food photography and videos I’ve also pivoted towards commercial, fashion, and event-based content.
Do you have any special equipment which is a must for the shoots you conduct?
Well, I can’t shoot without my camera. This sounds very clichéd but the most important thing isn’t what gear you use in a shoot. These are simply tools that you use; the thing that needs to be worked on is the creative vision. Something a lot of creators, including myself, face from time to time is gear acquisition syndrome (aka GAS). Innovation is unstoppable and, likewise, the urge to buy more lenses and lights is unavoidable as well.
What details do you believe make the best photograph?
“What makes the best photograph” is a matter of perspective. There is no right or wrong answer to this, because it depends on the creator.
Which professional photographers have influenced you, and how do you incorporate their techniques in your work?
Some of the first few photographers I was influenced by were Steve McCurry, Ansel Adams, and Christopher Anderson -- but as I was exposed to more creators in the field, there are so many more I am inspired by. I’ve tried to incorporate different aspects of their processes into my work. Not just photographers though, I’ve been a fan of the works of Roger Deakins, Wes Anderson, Edgar Wright, Matthew Libatique, Peter McKinnon, Daniel Schiffer, and many other creative individuals.
Amongst your work, which one is your favourite?
Amongst my photography projects, one of my favourite pieces of work is the neon bridal photoshoot I did with Avenue T, and from my audio-visual work, one of the works I’m most proud of is the one I made for the Uthao Campaign from Pathao Ltd. At the end of the day, though, being able to work with the people from Studio Baklava, who I’m so close to, is a reward in itself.
Do you focus on any specific subject? How would you describe your comfort zone?
I try my best to not restrict myself to a specific type of work, and instead I do my best to explore as many different styles of work as I can. I feel like exploring and experimenting is the best way to understand one’s skills and improve on them. YouTube tutorials go a long way in learning new skills as well.
Do you consider yourself a detail-oriented person?
I do believe I’m a fairly detail-oriented person in some cases, which turns into a need to control my creative process. This, however, comes with its downsides, because I tend to get frustrated when things don’t go as planned.
How would you describe your photography style?
It's a little difficult to specify my style into one attribute. I feel like I experiment with different styles in different projects. One concept I follow is “less is more”. When you put too many things into the composition, it takes away your attention from the main subject. Of course, this is a relative concept.
You do both photography and cinematography. How do you define these two things?
Photography and cinematography are creative outlets for me. It allows me to try out different styles and methods in the process without repercussions. It lets me do whatever pleases me in the project, and explore infinite possibilities.
How do you connect with your clients? And what kind of difficulties do you face?
I think connecting with clients is a universal complexity. Personal connections do help a lot in getting work, but networking with potential clients, and showing them what you can do for them is the best way to land clients. Promoting yourself is heavily looked over; people need to see what you can do to hire them. I’ll admit this is a skill that I’m still working on improving as much as possible. The current issues in getting work are heavily related to the pandemic, but in general, there’s a saturation in the creator field which provides extremely competitive pricing. Matching those prices isn’t always possible, and since clients want to save money, they prefer going for cheaper prices.
What's the most difficult and the most rewarding aspect of being a photographer?
The best part of being a photographer is capturing the essence of a subject and seeing my creative vision instilled into a photograph. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and “pride” to see a photograph that I’m happy with. The most difficult part, on the other hand, is directly correlated to the best part. Capturing that vision into a photograph is much harder than it seems and as I’ve mentioned before, if things don’t go as planned, it ignites frustration.
Any particular advice you got in life that made your photography journey a bit easier?
One of the best pieces of advice I try to follow is: “If your creativity is driven by a desire to get attention, you are never going to be creatively fulfilled” - Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
For the most part, I’ve been a “go with the flow” sort of person. I’ve dealt with the situations I’ve faced as they come, so I don’t have a particular answer for where I’ll be five years time. As long as I’m still self-sufficient, I’m good.