Built Own Way with Ultimate Endowment
Chanchal Mahmood, the biggest name of photography world in our country and is a proof that, above all else, hard work and determination are the key ingredients of success. His photography career doesn’t happen overnight. The result is a collection of award including TRAB -Best Model Photographer Award, Advertisement Section-2002, 3rd Iftekhar Photo Contest Award-1989 (1st Prize), Bank Indosuez Award-1990, Lalon Shah Award – 2011 and many more recognition like that.This iconic photographer participated in various national and international photography exhibitions-38 times and his work is the gold-standard when it comes to peering past the face and into the soul of subject, model, or celebrity. Perhaps his humble and approachable nature is one of the small things that contributes to his enormous success. Recently The Pages Magazine had a great opportunity to talk with thisincredible persona.
Tell us something about yourself that people don’t know yet?
There is nothing very special actually. As I am a very simple person everyone knows about me as a very normal human being too. But still there when I was very young I was very eager to buy a camera.I wanted to tell it to my dad but couldn’t tell him out of fear. My father was a joint secretary of government and very serious kind of person. So, I practiced many times that how to request father and will he get angry or not… one day while practicing, my mother caught me and wondered what I was actually doing. So, after listening the reason of practicing she insisted me to tell it to my father directly. After that, somehow I manage the courage to tell my father. So, I told him that I need a camera. He asked me that” how much it cost” and I replied that “forty one thousand”. She again asked me that “how much does your father earn”. I replied “twenty two thousand”. So, he directly said that, “then we will have to starve for 2 months. Right?” That same night, I realized that, it’s actually true. He is a government job holder, he serves for the government. Gathering such a big amount for a camera was quite impossible so I told sorry to him. Then he said me that “pray to your almighty, he will surely give that to you”. And later when I achieved an international award and prizing money of 10 thousand US dollar, that day I could recalled the memory of my father’s saying and felt the truth behind that. I set up my first studio with that money and my Guruji Azad Beg gave the studio name as “Chanchal Mahmud Studio” which was very unusual for that time period. So I asked him the reason behind such an unusual name. He said me that. One day I will be a renowned personality. Actually both of these memory areactually very close to my heart which people may not know. Otherwise I feel for the common people. At present time, some burning issues like price hiking, increasing house rent all these issues also make me anxious and tensed sometimes. I tried to portray those in most of my photography exhibitions also including 18 solo, but still have a feeling to do more regarding those issues. I believe that a photographer himself/ herself is a choreographer and can do unbound through his photography. So, I am also trying to do as much as I can. I don’t even set any caption in my photographs as I believe that photograph itself speaks a lot. In our time the situation was quite different which has changed quite a lot now. Now one can attain PHD in photography. I completed my Diploma in photography, from Australia- 1988 then attain my Licentiates (professional qualification) degree in 1991 and Associate (model & fashion photography) degree in 1993. Still I feel the eager to learn and capture more. Once a very renowned photographer of Kolkata asked me that which one is my greatest photograph. I think, that still now I couldn’t capture the best photo and when I will be able to do that, that will be the ending of mine as a photographer. Otherwise, I have a deep desire to work until the death .
What got you started in photography?
In my childhood, I was always confused about what I want to be in future. I did not have any specific idea or choice about my aim in life. Every student in my class used to write their aim as doctor or engineer or something like that. But I could never finalize my aim of life. However, in my teenage I felt to become a painter but that time parents did not want their son to choose painting as a profession. Like others they also wanted their son to be a BCS Engineer, Army man or something like that. So, time passes but still I was confused about my aim. I have done many things throughout my life, writing poem, attending national team as a player, acting in theatre and even tried to be politician. However, then again my dream to become painter rouse in me but my father strictly opposed that and told me to attain for Dhaka College exam whereas my deep desire was to enter in Charukola. So, I planned to do very poor in that exam and out of 300 I only answered 40 question marks. Still somehow, I attain the position as a last student in the list to get admitted there. So, my dream to join Chrukola thus brooked and I cried for that . However still I managed to attain the classes in Charukola and one day I got caught by Painter RofiqunNabi. I was afraid of getting scolded b ut nothing happened like that. Rather Rafiqun Nabi sir, after watching my water color paintings inspired me saying that I should work with light which means to work as a photographer. His compliments really inspired me and made me realize about the interest about my passion finally. So, that’s’ it… After that I continued as photographer and did not need to look back any more. With the blessings of God, I have achieved honor and respect from people which is the main reward I believe.
At present we have seen many young people turned into photographer suddenly. What is your view/ notion about that?
It’s their own preference and own choice I would say, as I don’t believe in back biting. But what matters to me is that, learning is the best method. Through practice, through experience one can achieve something if he / she wants to but short cut can’t bring long lasting accomplishment. We should remember that “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” Those who are turning into photographer suddenly continuing as per their wish but they may feel awkward in front of the learned or expert person and its quite natural.I would suggest them to prefer learning mainly because there is no substitute of this. To get in this situation we tried extremely hard. In oiur generation, things were not easy as it is now. At that time we would wait long to get anything. But now, young generations are getting things so easily that they don’t value those. To take photography to this level we passed through many hardships. And this is happening in every sector actually. Now people are not following the road of hardship rather they believe in shortcuts. But they must listen to their conscience.
What role photography can play in the development of country’s economic condition?
It plays a major vital role in economy. In our past photography was specially done by North Bengali. After liberation war, we have seen few Bangladeshis working and developing in this sector and guru ………………. Is one of them and he had a studio in Topkhana road that time. However the role of photography in economy is undoubtedly great. Whatever you are watching in the media is photography whether it is TV media, or internet or in print media all are somehow related to photography. From birth to marriage or any kind of celebration or any acts of protest or anything, without photography nothing can be revealed properly. But too much obtainability is lessening its value and standard. It’s good that photography has become easier than before and its availability increasing but still maintaining of its standard is important too.The importance of photography can’t be described as it is too vast. All the documentary worldwide that we are watching, all the recent news and updates are related to photography. Even before Digitalized era has brought a vast change and we appreciate that but the decrease of quality is undoubtedly a matter of concern.
What are some tips you can give for those who are just trying to break into this sector as a photographer?
Photography is a good profession. Technical learning is always useful and we have seen many graduated showing interest in this sector also. To shine or to achieve something in any sector consistency is must. But our new generation seems to lack in consistency. There are many scope of learning and training. All they need is to keep that passion in themselves and to fulfill that they should learn properly from an expert or master. If they make themselves worthy then there is no shortage of employment. They can get training from good institution and then there is chance to do better with this exciting profession. I have seen many students who were unemployed but after having proper learning and training in photography they are now doing great.
Tell us something about your future plans.
To achieve this position I have worked so hard. Behind all of these appreciation, there is tireless contribution. So, all I want to do is to continue some good work and wish for a glorious end. My desire is to continue my work until death. One thing I have always seen that, artists like us get oppressed at their old age. After a long life of contribution to the society artists want nothing but a peaceful end where they will be at least a basic financial security or solvency. I have seen many talented and respected artists who suffered financially at their old age. Government workers get retired but there is no retirement of an artist. So, for the security of artist government patronage and support is much needed and our society and citizen of the society should value the artists of every sector. I would like to request the government so that the photographers of this country at least have some basic scope where there will be scope for conversation, meeting and library, gallery and cafeteria. I hope and believe that one day it will happen and there will be improvement in this sector nationally. One may wonder hearing that, the first gold medal winner from any art sector of Bangladesh is a photographer, but still now when people ask about what I do, then it really hurts. So, I hope that society and people’s perception about photographer will change. The change may not come suddenly, but gradually they will understand the strength of both photography and the photographers. So, all I want to say is that, whatever one may do must to with honesty and consistency.