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Ummid Ashraf


Dhaka, 
Bangladesh


Ummid is a multidisciplinary artist and professionally a colourist based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has been practising photography for almost a decade now and he says “It has helped me make sense of my city and myself.“

What is photography to you?

Photography is a way for me to understand what I’m going through, it is a coping mechanism, it is what I love doing in general. It has changed my life.

How did you get started in Photography?

I picked it up purely out of boredom. I didn't have loads of friends around me back then (2016) and so it was my way of having fun. It pushed me to explore my surroundings, alleys I’ve never walked through, stores I’ve passed, people I never noticed.

What impact do you think your childhood has on your photography?

I used to see my mother taking photos of the family. She always had a camera with her. Hundreds of photos of me and my brother’s childhood. I guess that inspired me in away. My mother tried to make me learn how to paint but I was always too lazy to finish painting something. Photography I guess was an easier alternative.

Please tell us about your process and vision.​

I like pushing old gear to its limits. I think you can take good photos with any camera. You just have to adapt to its limitations. My photography over the years has predominantly been phone photography (I only recently bought myself a Fuji x100s). It allowed me to think more about what I’m trying to say with the photo and not fuss about image quality. Have fun with what you have. You’ll take better photos that way. My base is now much stronger and I can adapt to my situation and take the photo I want.

How do you overcome periods of low motivation or creative ruts?

I don't really have a fixed way of getting out of ruts. I just accept that I am going through a rut and wait for the inspiration hammer to hit me. I found that fixating on the fact that Iam going through a rut only makes me feel worse. I also try to consume other forms of art and technical knowledge. You never know what song, movie, painting or youtube tutorial will help you get out of your situation.

What inspires you the most?

This quote by Brian Eno: “Think gardening, not architecture. Plant things and see how they grow. Don't constrain yourself by trying to solve every detail.”

 

What challenges do you face as an artist?

I have been pretty resourceful when it came to making art so I can’t really say gear or anything like that barred me from doing what I want to do. However, things that do make me struggle are artistic blocks, work-life, time. If I also had to add one struggle all artists in our country face, it is censorship. I hope it changes so that people will be able to tell stories unfiltered.

Tell us about a photo you’re proud of.

The photo I am the most proud of is buried in one of my old laptops. It was a photo of a butcher (below). I shot that photo back in 2016. I remember watching how-to videos by Kai Man Wong and he told us all to just smile and ask permission for a portrait politely. That day I tried it. My heart was racing, but I had to make this happen. I smiled and asked the man if it was cool to take a photo of him. He said yes. That gave me so much confidence. I love thinking back to that time.

How would you define photographic success?

I value authenticity more than success. A photograph is successful if it is authentic to the photographer’s core values. Do not force it. Let it come to you naturally. Your personality will help you stand out.
 

What do you think the future of photography is?

I don’t really know. The future is happening as I write this. Things change in a matter of minutes, seconds! I just hope that however this medium gets used or changes in the future, it changes for the good, gets more accessible, and helps people in some ways. I hope photographers will adopt more ethical processes. I hope the photos are authentic. I hope more people encourage artistry over consumerism. I hope we’re all having fun doing it.

Image copyrights © Ummid Ashraf 

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