Interview – Inspired Eye Magazine #94

My interview for the Inspired Eye Magazine #94 came out today and covers a few images and questions about the series “Shipyard Workers of Dhaka”. Many thanks to Don Springer and Olivier Doung. Inspired Eye is a monthly street photography magazine.

Please tell us something about you, your life and interest etc.

Born in 1965 in Stans, Switzerland, I started around 2000 with photography. I studied engineering at the Bale Institute of Technology and work now full-time as a project and team leader for the local government. My photography focuses on music, culture, landscapes, and wildlife; images that reflect a spatial and temporal journey through life. I seek the quiet moments and the light in whatever context I find myself. My photographic work is a journey of self-discovery and self-expression. It is the way by which I choose to get in touch with the people, things, and world around me. I am fascinated by exploring the world, seeing the world through my eyes, different countries, music festivals, life and joy. They are what I snap into when creating my photography.

What inspired you to become a photographer?

I started serious photography around the year 2000. Being purely self-taught, I gained the knowledge myself, but also by studying the masters. I love the work of Sebastiao Salgado, Steve McCurry, Don McCullin, Jimmy Nelson and some other travel and documentary photographers. I was very fascinated by the imagery, so I started photographing in black and white. Music photography, along with travel, have become two of my life passions.

What is this project about and where is it shot?

The “Haunting Portraits” series began in 2020, just before Covid19 hit us all, in Bangladesh. The people are laborers who work either at the port or in the shipyards of Dhaka. The work is hard and demanding. The conditions are hot and often dangerous. So are the faces of the people;  All tell a different story. All age groups work together.

How did it start?

I spent 10 days in the shipyards, brickfields and around Dhaka photographing the people and their daily struggle to live and work.

What is it that you wanted to show?

I wanted to portray people in a different style and show how the faces look and what stories they tell the audience.

You remove your subjects from their context/background, any reasons for that?

I blurred the background to focus the viewer on the face and eyes.

How did your subject react to you and your camera?

The people in Bangladesh are extremely friendly and love to be photographed. Everyone posed for a photo, even if they were carrying g heavy 16 bricks on their heads or working in the heat of the shipyards.

Do you consider the project complete or on-going?

The project is complete as it is now. But I want to optimize my editing workflow in Lightroom. There are always things that can be done better.

What has been the response to your project?

I’ve posted some pictures on Facebook and Instagram. I got a lot of comments saying that they like it. But – the more interesting thing was that many young boys and girls draw some of my portraits and sent them to me. So in spring 2020, I started a drawing contest just for young Asians and I got more than 200 pictures and drawings. I was able to manage money and prizes, and I published the participants and winners on social media and on my website. The response was so great. It was really fun and I was able to give back something to young artists.

Any anecdotes you can share?

Not an anecdote, but I want to share something else. There are three important things in the world to be happy – to love someone, to do something and to hope for something. That is my wish for all of us.

If you would like to make a closing statement, we’d love to hear what you have to say.

I didn’t take many photos in 2020 because of the pandemic. Not much traveling, no music concerts or festivals, no foreign countries. Instead, I went through my photos on the hard drives and saw things I didn’t realize before. In my mind, I could travel to all the places I’ve been before. As Deborah Lloyd once said, “Travel fires our imaginations, feeds curiosity, and reminds us how much we all have in common.”