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A thousand words

  • Published at 08:40 pm April 30th, 2016
A thousand words
He began working as a photographer in the year 2001, and has been serving as a freelancer for several daily newspapers in Bangladesh, and international magazines like The New York Times, Al Jazeera, Global Post, and The Washington Post. His passion for photography began at a very young age, and his areas of interest are mainly capturing nature, social disparities and fights for human rights. He believes in immersion photography, spending months listening and observing his subject over the course of a project. Although Hasan is skilled in daily life photography, street photography, portraiture, documentary and fashion photography, he finally chose documentary photography as the core form of his work. Hasan's mother has also been a great influence on him, and it was her dream which drove him to explore the creative world. He tried learning guitar and drums, but failed as he couldn't find the passion to complete his lessons. Visual media attracted him the most, but due to family and social pressure, he completed a post-graduate degree in accounting. Another person who highly inspired and motivated Hasan was his sister. He used to tag along with her as she travelled across Bangladesh, and collected information from different sources and documented social issues. Since then, his sense of responsibility towards society grew and he began to address critical issues related to inequality, vulnerable communities, the social system, and women's rights. How it began Hasan never felt like getting into the usual nine to five jobs, and at the age of 20, he started to raise awareness and give a voice to people who have none. Struggling to find a way to help them, he realised that his love for photography and the camera can act as a medium to portray discrimination and spread awareness among people. Ever since then, photography has become part of his identity—a force that makes him think, feel and understand human beings and their condition. He chose to take this path to experience culture and life to its fullest. Hence, he joined Pathshala, a reputed photography institute in South Asia, and accomplished a three year long degree in 'Graduation in Photo Journalism', followed by a year long professional degree in 'Diploma in Photojournalism' from Ateneo de Manila University. In 2013, Khaled Hasan revealed his first solo-exhibition titled 'Existence – The End' in Shilpakala Academy—an innovative presentation of printing photograph in clothing material and modifying it with painting, which immediately grabbed people's attention. Hasan started a trend which was unusual in Bangladesh at the time, and was soon followed by other photographers. Hasan has also achieved the National Geographic All Roads Photography Award for his long-term documentary work 'Living Stone' in 2008, which is the most prestigious award for documentary photographers around the world. His photo essay - 'Living Stone: A Community Losing Its Living Environment,' focused on the area of Jaflong on the Piyain river, near the border of India and Bangladesh, whose inhabitants are struggling with health hazards, environmental, political and professional vulnerability of the region’s stone-crushing industry. Lives of others According to Hasan, a photojournalist should not just concentrate on his photography but also focus on being a socially responsible person. Thus, he feels satisfied whenever he can benefit society through his works. Hasan has also worked on the lives of acid survivors and Birangonas. Through his project 'Leave Me Alone,' he wants people to understand what lies behind those acid-burnt faces and understand their stories of survival and healing. Showcasing mental trauma of a woman in relation to acid violation and creating mass awareness against it was the aim of this project. Hasan also revealed the untold stories of Birangonas through a documentary film titled Sign of Shame, the photographs of which are dedicated to approximately 200,000 Birangonas. He wants the film to act as educative war evidence for future generations. Hasan believes that society is silent about the cruelty faced by these women, and their struggles, both during and after the war, remain unrecorded. In the video he made within this framework, three Birangonas talk about their experiences, all in their 60s by now. It was also important to Hasan to include a male freedom fighter in his film, because there have been many films made in which they were talking about their heroism and the war, but never about the rape of hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi women. Also, a woman who was born as a result of the rape during the liberation war is one of the film's protagonists. Shahidul Alam, principal of Pathshala and a globally renowned photo artist, is a motivational figure for Hasan. He is also highly inspired by the works of late Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson, as well as Richard Avedon, Steve Mccurry and Sebastiao Salgado. In 2015, Hasan was one of the invitees and lead speaker at of International Perspective Conference (IPC), held at Principia College in St Louis, USA, where he currently lives. He is the youngest inspirational speaker who has attended the event, where he was recognised not only as an internationally well-known photographer, but also as a 'Socially Responsible Global citizen'. Remarkable leading speakers from like Barack Obama, Margaret Thatcher, George H W Bush, Jimmy Carter and Dr Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh have also attended many international conferences organised by Principia Collage. Khaled believes that a story never ends, but it continues to develop, fades or becomes part of history, and may still be documented through photography. This is why he thinks it is highly important to do work that brings significant changes in life, especially the ones that transcend time.