Mou Aysha is a documentary photographer from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She has completed her graduation in Masters in Applied English Linguistics at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh. Also, she has completed photography course in First Light Institute of Photography and she is a volunteer for social and humanitarian projects of First Light Institute.
In her words about people photography, “I have always loved people and have always wanted to learn about them from up close. People, their culture, their experiences, always fascinated me since my childhood. I found out that photography gives me opportunities to go and learn about people and their journeys.”
Thanks, Aysha for accepting our invitation. Please read on…
Could you please introduce yourself?
During and after my studies at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, graduating with a Masters in Applied English Linguistics, I started photography which became a growing passion.
I have been following the photography workshops and courses at First Light Institute of Photography since 2014 in Dhaka. Now I dedicate myself to capturing the best moments of life as I see and feel them.
I am currently employed as the administrator at this non-profit institute and I’m also involved as a volunteer for social and humanitarian projects of First Light Institute.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I have always loved people and have always wanted to learn about them from up close. People, their culture, their experiences, always fascinated me since my childhood. I found out that photography gives me opportunities to go and learn about people and their journeys.
Photography is more of my passion than my profession. It means a lot to me personally and I find a great deal of satisfaction and challenge in this art.
I only shoot what I feel is important to me. I go out to take photos because it’s fascinating to me and because I am curious about people, their lives, their culture and their faces.
Every time I go out with my camera I feel happy. Every new place and all the new people I encounter make me happy.
How did you develop an interest in people photography? What kind of human activities and elements do you like shooting most?
Since childhood, I have been fascinated with people and their faces. I grow up in the northern part of Bangladesh and from a young age, I saw a lot of people from the islands. Their faces were always different from other people I had seen. They were burnt with the sun, had a lot of scratches on their face and their eyes were red. All those faces grabbed my attention as a child, one of my main reasons to become a photographer was to capture those faces and bring more light to them. I wanted to share their beautiful and unique faces with others.
I have a special affection for portraits and have, therefore, produced an extensive series of them. Genuine smiles, emotions and people’s stories attract me the most. I want to capture the purest of emotions in my photographs.
I also occasionally feel inspired by other subjects and compositions and try not to limit my creative instincts. I also do street life and travel photography. I seek to discover and photograph that which is unseen by me or others, therefore, I find myself becoming an explorer with a powerful desire to travel.
There is a soulful feel in your portraits, what is the interaction with people before you capture them?
Before every single photo I take, I spend a good amount of time with the people. I try to get as close as possible to them. I try to become one of them or at least be accepted in their presence. Only after that do I start taking photos.
I take simple images primarily of people. I try to take portraiture images with simplicity, but which also reflect a soulful mood and deep human connection. In addition to the uncomplicated composition, the people whom I photograph are incredibly beautiful and brave souls. I believe that this is what sets my work apart from others.
What do you do to keep motivated, and not lose your passion for photography?
I love meeting people. In every area, people look and behave differently. Their faces and their stories motivate me a great deal. Every face I encounter inspires me to meet another person. I am mainly more fascinated by interactions with people than I am with photography of landscapes of places. Photography has given me the opportunities to capture those incredible faces, express their feelings and to share with others. That being said, I still am close to nature and the environment and find images that also inspire me to get out my camera.
Which photographers have inspired you?
My first master photographer with whom I studied, GMB Akash. His expertise and his outstanding work, have had a large impact on my desire to seriously continue with photography. There are others, many of whom are in Bangladesh that have been inspirational for me as artists. What impresses most about GMB Akash’s work is that he goes beyond the art and actually helps the people he photographs in his humanitarian activities.
What do you think makes a memorable photograph?
I love images that look authentic and with which you feel connected. I love images which surprise me, which make me feel something whether that be a sense of a place of an emotion.
You study in First Light Institute of Photography. What is your experience?
First light Institute of Photography not only teaches me to become a good photographer but also they show me and guide me on how to become a good human being and how as a photographer we can contribute to our society. First light gives me brilliant technical instruction, encouragement, faith, and enlightenment.
What camera and lenses do you use the majority of the time?
- Camera body: Canon 5D Mark 3 and Mark 4
- Lens: 24-70 canon 2.8 , 50 1.8, 35 mm 1.4
Any favorite photography books?
- Survivors By GMB Akash
- The Iconic Photographs By Steve McCurry
- The Suffering of Light By Alex Webb
All of these great photographers travel to incredible places and capture the essence, diversity, and culture of the inhabitants. They also fire my dream to travel and discover more of humanity and develop my photography and interpersonal skills.
What’s your personal motto?
I believe that with empathy, compassion, and love, we can change the world for the better as artists. I am a positive person who sees beauty in everything.
Who are your real-life heroes?
Every single person who works for the betterment of our society is amongst my heroes. Everyone who loves nature, earth, and people is my hero. I especially admire every person who respects women. These are the greatest of my heroes and they’re not necessarily only women. There are many good men working hard for the human rights and respect of women. After all, both genders will benefit.
I also admire those peripheral groups of mainly impoverished and uneducated people who go through extremely difficult times, yet they still manage to smile and to persevere. There are millions like this in Bangladesh and to me, they seem like heroes.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
During and after my studies at University earning my Masters in Applied English Linguistics, I have been following the photography workshops and courses at First Light Institute of Photography in Dhaka since 2014. I have been able to completely revise my vision of photography through the technical skills I learned as well as managing to get much closer to peoples’ experiences whom I photograph.
Because of these accomplishments, I am currently employed as the administrator of this non-profit photography institute. In addition, I also have contributed to the humanitarian activities of the institute as a volunteer for its social and altruistic projects that help 1’000s of unprivileged Bangladeshis. Being capable to work with First Light for demanding social cause is a great achievement for me.
What is Love?
Love is the Meaning of our Existence
Apart from photography, tell me about your hobbies and interests?
I am a big fan of nature. I love trees and rivers. I especially love roaming around small villages and seeing different ways of living which pique my curiosity and desire to travel as much as possible. Learning about travel and different cultures is something I do with a passion for reading as well as viewing films including diverse populations and places.
Thanks again for providing 121 Clicks with this opportunity to interview you. Any final thoughts for our readers?
Be honest and respectful to the people you photograph. Work very hard and take photos every day. Love your life and always be positive. Appreciate everything you have in your life!
You can find Mou Aysha on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Mou Aysha. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.