Faces of Bangladesh

People make a nation. Without people a country is nothing. These truisms are especially apposite to Bangladesh – the most densely populated mainland country in the world. In 2011, the fortieth anniversary of Bangladeshi independence, I travelled the length and breadth of Bangladesh with my camera, taking photos of the people I saw.

This selection of one hundred of my portrait photos, Faces of Bangladesh, captures the life, the vigour and the diversity of the people of Bangladesh. Rich and poor. Old and young. Urban and rural. Working and resting. Religious and secular. I took photos of street vendors and rickshaw drivers in Old Dhaka; men in the Baital Mukarram and Sitara mosques; students at Lalbagh Fort; minority families in the lime groves on the edge of Lowacherra Nature Reserve; tea pickers on the plantations around Srimongol; a holy man in the grave yard of Hazrat Shah Jalal, Sylhet City; a Member of Parliament returning on the Rocket paddle steamer to his constituency in Barisal Province; the captain of the Kushtia Cricket Team visiting the Shait Gumbad Mosque at Bagerhat before playing in the Inter District Cricket Championship; shrimp farmers at Chunakhola; a woman mending a road and a man sewing a fishing net at Sundarghona; ferry men and a bed maker in Khulna; cobblers at Kushtia bus station; an old man and a young woman on the banks of the Padma at Rajshahi; an accountancy student with her books at Jagannath Temple, Puthia; and a Hindu priest at the Shiva Temple, Natore.

All these photos were taken with agreement, as people went about their every-day lives. The backdrop is the street, the workshop, the countryside, the village or the mosque where each individual spends much of his or her life. Pictures were not posed or arranged. Most people looked straight at the camera. Some adopted an almost formal stance. Others smiled. Most just paused for a minute or so, looked at the photo on the camera display and then continued with their lives. But all stamped their personality on the photo. The most striking feature of these photos is the pride and strength of character displayed by all, even the poorest beggar.

I have long standing connections with the Bangladeshi community in London – first when working as a solicitor at Camden Community Law Centre and then as a partner at Bindmans in Kings Cross.

Faces of Bangladesh was shown as a slide show in the BP Lecture Theatre at the British Museum. It exhibited for a month at the Swiss Cottage Gallery.

Click here to view the photos