Some of our readers may recognize the name Idris as the man whose co-workers went without food to help his daughters afford schooling. We’ve arranged an interview with GMB Akash, the photograph who took Idris’ photo and shared his story with the world.
1. We were particularly inspired by your photo of Idris. Can you tell us more about him? How did you come across him?
I met Idris when I was working with sweepers. I have been working for my project ‘Heroes of Life’ for nine years. ‘Heroes of Life’ is about the real life experiences of some incredible human beings who encounter hardship, suffering, and struggles but always find their way to love and light. They belong to the lowest chunk of the society and their voices and stories remain unheard and undiscovered. I wanted to be the voice of such voiceless people. Idris was one of them. I heard about Idris from one of his colleagues while they were having lunch that was sent by Idris’ daughter.
2. You’ve received over 100 international awards for your work? Which has been the most meaningful for you?
My photographs have been published in more than 100 international and my nearly sixty solo exhibitions held in prestigious galleries and museums all over the world. Every award, every publication is close to my heart. My second Photography book ‘Survivors’ holds a special place in my heart which was reviewed by GEO international. By the procedure of the book I am able to bring change in the life of 50 ‘Survivors’ by gifting them source of income.
My institute First Light Institute of Photography (www.firstlightphotoschool.com) income goes for nearly 500 unprivileged children foods and education. The little changes I am able to make in people’s life by my work I feel that is what I keep close to my heart. And the best rewards of the work I am doing are when I am able to touch people’s heart and that subsequently bring some changes into someone’s life. I want you to remember me as a Photographer who is able to make you feel, who inspire you to stand beside another human. I want to continue to present visuals of life that may ask the people to wake from the table where humanity is lost.
3. How do you try to capture pictures of “humanity?”
I try to capture the beauty of the people and their souls. Although the circumstances of many of the people I portray may be grim, as individuals they are oftentimes people of remarkable character. The humanity I strive to capture in the photographs I take in a number of ways, the images presented on these pages are my own experiences, too.
My journeys connect me to the many characters. Sometimes I had to run, take a ride on the roof of a moving train, sleep on a flooded floor and spend many hours walking the maze of avenues through sprawling city slums. It is the reaching of my protagonists, the welcome into their homes and their lives, that makes my work worthwhile. And at the end if mine is the hand that blocks the scorching sun from their eyes — bringing shade for just a single minute, then there’s value in the work I do.
4. What plans do you have in the future for your photography?
I am working on my third Photography book ‘Heroes of life’, based on true stories and real life experiences accompanying with photos. I have been working on this photography project for more than nine years. There will be untold stories and unseen images in the book. Also with this book my aim is to support people whom I photograph. I want to bring the greatest possible changes into their lives.
I have an un-resting soul. I do not know where I will be waking up next morning. I move from places to places, cities to cities and countries to countries. . My inspiration is every face I met in my journey, music I heard on the road, seasons I loved pleasantly, struggles I overcome.
5. Are there any links you’d like to share?
- Website: www.gmb-akash.com
- Blog: https://www.gmbakash.wordpress.com
- My social networking sites:
This Q&A was edited for clarity and brevity.