Video: Photography as a Revolutionary Tool in Bangladesh

Shahidul Alam is an award-winning photographer and human rights activist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In 1989, Alam set up Drik Picture Library, a photography library that provides a platform for local photographers to showcase their work. Alam was the first Asian recipient of the Mother Jones Award for Documentary Photography, among his numerous other awards. His May 2010 exhibition Cross Fire was closed down by the police in Bangladesh, which led to nationwide protests headed by students and human rights activists.

As a photographer dedicated to documenting local people and events in Bangladesh, Alam is concerned about the lack of representation of local photographers in countries like his own. Alam argued that compared to photographers visiting the country with little knowledge of local affairs, native photographers are better equipped to capture local lives in an unbiased way. 

Over the years, Alam has embarked on numerous initiatives utilizing photography to voice the struggle of the oppressed. Alam established his own gallery in collaboration with staff from Drik Picture Library and set up a prestigious photography school, Pathshala South Asian Media Academy, to educate young photographers. As part of his human rights activism, Alam launched to inform the world about the human rights situation in Bangladesh. Alam is also passionate about providing photography education to formerly underrepresented groups in the field, such as women, working-class children, rural journalists and citizen journalists. 

Alam is adamant that in the right hands, photography can be nothing short of revolutionary. As he argues in the above multimedia feature, "There is a silent revolution taking place."   

The soundtrack of the above video uses the song "My War Blues" from Cian Nugent

About the Author

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Stella Guan is a Multimedia Intern for the Asia Society. She is a graduating senior at La Salle University with a major in Mass Media. She is originally from China and speaks four languages.