|A. M. Ahad, is the Associated Press Bangladesh Photographer. He holds a Diploma in Photojournalism from the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University as a full scholar and graduated in Mass Communication, Media Studies and Journalism from Stamford University, Bangladesh. His first-hand experience working as a photojournalist was in South-East Asia. In a very young age Ahad has received numerous international awards, including: 3rd prize at the NPPA Photojournalism Award in 2014, 1st prize at the National Headliner Award organized by Atlantic City press club in 2014, 2nd prize (people’s choice) and 3rd prize in Political Category on Px3 Paris Photography Prize in 2015, category winner on the 10th Annual Photoshare Contest in 2015, 1st prize at the Transparency International Photo Competition in 2015, 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize under several categories of Life Press Photo Contest, Ukraine in 2015, Allard Prize Photography Competition in 2016, as well as achieved several accolades in the field of photography worldwide. Ahad’s works have been published in most of the renowned international news media including TIME, The New York Times, The Guardian, and have been exhibited globally at the: Backlight Photo Festival, Finland; SeeMe Exhibition, Musee du Louvre in Paris, France; Charlotte Observer Gallery, USA; The Guardian Gallery, Kings Place, London; and Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Japan.
Tell us a bit about your introduction to photography… I am not a good speaker so I impart true stories visually— this is what inspires me to work as a photojournalist. I have tried many different activities in life, but it is only in photography that I have found purpose. My interest began in photography in my childhood. My cousin Jahangir Kabir is a photojournalist and I grew up following his activities, but I did not express my soft spot for photography at that early age. I spent my school life focused on musical instruments, theater and sports. For the first time, in 2006, I borrowed an SLR film camera from my cousin to practice photography and began photographing. Subconsciously my other passions faded away. I am primarily focused on photojournalism because of the excitement my work brings me; photojournalism challenges me daily. Aside from the thrill of being the first witness to a current event, I also experience an inner joy of being able to expose a variety of realities and tell the stories of people that many have not heard, stories of: children, women, victims or survivors, victims of crime, conflict, human rights abuses, climate change, portraits, and so on.
Which is your most-loved photo?
There are many wonderful photos. It is very difficult to name one in particularly. Some of the existing masterpieces encapsulate images that are unforgettable; beside the news photography I have a weakness on fine art photography, it is not possible to choose just one image.
What is the essential difference between photography and photojournalism according to you?
I think working on facts rather than fiction is the essential difference between photography and photojournalism. I do like to work on fiction, but in my personal photographs; as a photojournalist, I work as a messenger of the unedited truth, I adhere to this distinction. We know that every news is a story, but every story is not news, so it is working in a same way in the basic difference between photography and photojournalism.
How would you define the recent trends in photojournalism?
Basic trends in photojournalism remain constant, there is an endless stream of assignments, and one is always following leads to get to find the next story and cover the happenings of the day; after this one process the photos, adds captions and submits the works for the publications and this continues as long as print media exists on this earth. Events are happening more swiftly with new approaches due to new forms of online media. Recent trend in photojournalism include: to be so responsive, and break the story when everyone has good equipment and internet, breaking through barriers of the industry, illuminating social and cultural struggles that often goes overlooked. This adds to daily patterns of: assignments, producing photo packages about particular news events, working on long-term projects, and visualizing social and cultural issues, are recent trends in photojournalism.
What is the most terrific experience that you have had when you tried to capture a particular frame?
While covering a protest by lawyers affiliated with Bangladesh's main opposition party, nearby the court, suddenly numerous stones and bricks rained down on us. One of my colleagues yelled out “you’re bleeding”. I didn’t feel any pain at the time, but clearly understood that I had been injured. I was more concerned about pro-government activists than my injury and I noticed the activists had run across the main entrance of the court area, throwing stones and bricks at random, chasing the opposition-supported lawyers. A few of the pro-government activists were armed with bamboo sticks and other weapons as they approached a woman lawyer. My colleague held a piece of cloth on my forehead at the time, but I removed his hand, and started running toward the pro-government activists, shooting as they beat her. I couldn’t click more than twice, because I was not able to see anything except my own blood drippingonto my camera viewfinder. The situation was terrific, but that image won third prize of the NPPA award on behalf of the Associated Press in 2013.
How do you generally handle such adverse situations?
I try to be patient when handling adverse situations.I try to determine the core reason behind the situation and understand how to handle it.
Do photojournalists need to focus on any particular gear?
Well, to be honest, particular gear is important for the particular event, but the most important point is who is behind the gear. So, I don’t think that photojournalists need to focus on any particular gear, even a phone camera could work nicely during a breaking news situation, if no others gear is available during that time.
What gear do you use?
Presently I use almost all high-end flagship products of Canon for assignments, as the company I work for provides these. Occasionally I use my iPhone camera for my visual diary.
Any word of advice for the budding photojournalists...
I may not be the right person to give advice for budding photojournalists; they are producing high standard quality works. I am still learning every day, trying to develop my work. Everyone should keep in their mind: professionalism, ethical consideration, passion, dedication, honesty, studying, planning, technical efficiency, humanity. Pictures come to the photographers if they could keep patience and give respect to the subject.