The Path of Photography | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 28, 2018


The Path of Photography

The photography bug bit me when I was a third-year electrical engineering student in the United States. The museum at my university had mounted an exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams, and after spending several hours there, I felt powerfully and deeply moved. Within three months I had bought a Canon AE-1 for $130 saved from my scholarship money. Next, I learned to process black and white film. Voila! I was on my way.

I did, however, make a deliberate decision. Although I was sorely tempted to take on photography as my profession, I decided not to. I would become an engineer while practising photography as a hobby, albeit with utmost commitment.

Over the next several decades I managed to do just that. While working full-time as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, I spent my holidays and free time learning photography and chasing photographs. San Francisco was a political and ethnic melting pot and her parades, demonstrations and street parties provided me with ample photographic opportunities. Meanwhile, whenever I came to Bangladesh on vacation to visit my family, I roamed the streets of Dhaka with my camera. I worked in black and white, the preferred medium for classic street photography.

Soon, big changes came my way. I married a wonderful woman and we supported one another pursuing our dreams. When we were blessed with children, I started spending more of my free time at home. As the children grew, I photographed them. Eating, sleeping, studying, playing, bathing... – I photographed all aspects of their lives. Today those photographs are beyond a doubt my most precious.

In 2005, my wife and I decided to move back to Bangladesh. I had lived abroad for three decades and the move was a major change for me. By this time I had switched to digital photography. I resumed street photography in Bangladesh, working in colour this time. The best photos were found in “happening” places such as festivals or spots with intense human activity. I continued street photography in Bangladesh until about 2012.

Another big change soon came to my life. My father suddenly passed away in 2008. Grieving, I decided to document his life's work in photographs. He had been a planter and a nature-lover, so I spent the next few years doing nature and landscape photography. Starting with my father's trees, I expanded into a variety of landscape and flora photography.

While I was documenting my father's work, for the sake of completeness I started photographing the creatures that lived in his trees: caterpillars and spiders, butterflies and wasps, squirrels and monkeys. Looking back, it seems inevitable that I would turn to birds. Indeed, when I did, I found them attractive but very challenging to photograph. I was hooked before I knew it. After two years of chasing birds, I finally began to get the hang of bird photography. Once I felt a firm commitment, I proceeded with purchasing the best gear for bird photography, particularly a super-telephoto lens.

So birds take up most of my (photographic) time these days. Photography is an immensely rich hobby and I am yet to try out architectural, astronomical and macro photography. Who knows, maybe one day? In the meantime I feel blessed that I have been able to travel down this colourful, invigorating and educational path. or follow ihtishamkabir on Instagram

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