This Millennial Photographer is Shattering the “Us versus Them” Stereotypes with these Powerful Images

People

Nasif Imtiaz is a 26-year old photographer from the small city of Narayanganj in Bangladesh. The young boy who passionately and obsessively took interesting photos using his low resolution phone camera, managed to teach himself the basics of photography off of free youtube videos. True passion and the hunger to learn something requires neither professional training nor a structured career path, and Nasif is an example of exactly that. From amateur photography to a rising freelance photo documentarian locally and internationally, Nasif is always seeking stories he can share through his work.

A Madrassa or Islamic School Teacher and His pupils are taking a group selfie on a smartphone camera.
A Madrassa (Islamic School) Teacher and his pupils taking a groupie (group selfie) photo on a smartphone.

Nasif believes that far more important than high quality cameras and lenses is the concept and story behind each photograph. That is why he spends significant parts of time seeking out interesting, rare, moving and awe-inspiring stories which he can capture. In the photo above, Nasif was able to capture a “groupfie” which is a millennial term of group photographs taken in the selfie style. What is unique about the photo is that the photo is being taken by an instructor at an Islamic school, smiling with his pupils. In his own words, Nasif says this is the one project that makes him the happiest when he thinks about it. The image is remarkably powerful because of how Islamic schools (also known as Madrassas) and Muslims in general have been targets of Islamophobia and alienated in mainstream media on the global platform. The “us versus them” mentality has been steadily growing, often making people forget that we are not so different just because of the differences in faith or faith-based school systems. It also shows the uniting impact of technology and modern technological trends which surpass intangible barriers of community, faith, geography, and so on.

A Madrassa (Islamic School) Teacher and his young pupils sitting on a floor mat and enjoying a virtual reality experience on a VR eye device.
A Madrassa (Islamic School) Teacher and his pupils enjoying a virtual reality experience.

When asked which photo makes Nasif feel most sorrow in hindsigh, she says”It would be when I took a picture of an old mother crying at the scene of death of her daughter, who had just passed away in a fire at Chowkbazar area of Old Dhaka”. It is sometimes said that photographs and art are meant to incite emotions in people, and this image definitely does that. Anyone looking at the photo would have a stabbing pain in their heart and share in mourning with the mother who lost her child.

A mother crying for the loss of her daughter at Chawkbazar, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Nasif’s photodocumtaries have a unique way to capture joy, sorrow, love, and laughter in places where we least expect them. Below is an image of a blind couple, both of whom have visual deficits, smiling on their wedding day. This image, captioned “Blind Love” shows the innocence of a newly married couple and their expression of pure joy and genuine affection. The attire and background of the image show a humble background but the emotions of the moment transcend material needs. Another interesting aspect of this image is how it makes us question physical attractiveness and beauty. Love can clearly exist without the visual image of a lover. How beautifully they must picture one another in their minds!

A Blind couple pose on their wedding day in Bangladesh.
“Blind Love”: The Image shows a newly married couple, both of whom suffer from blindness.

Not only do Nasif’s images help us fight internal prejudices about religion, gender, and class, but his work also works to humanize those who we are quick to label and forget. In 2019, we continue to live through multiple refugee crises in different parts of the world. Nasif decided to interact with Rohingya refugees who are a tribal citizens of Myanmar, currently struggling to find a new home in and build a new life in Bangladesh.

Asma, a little girl who is a rehongya refugee living in the refugee camp in Bangladesh
“Asma” – A Rohingya Refugee Girl at Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp in Bangladesh.

This young girl named “Asma” who was photographed at the Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp in Bangladesh has the most expression eyes. Her remarkable eyes speak volumes about how lost and uncertain her life has become.

A little boy taking a breath at the water surface in a pond at Munshiganj, Bangldesh.

In this image we see a little boy in Munshiganj town of Bangldesh, coming up to the surface of water for a breath of fresh air. You can almost feel and experience that relief and gust of air as his head rises above the water surface, surrounded by floating water vegetation. It is so refreshing and familiar a feeling for anyone who has been underwater swimming before, yet to strikingly different than the tile-and-cement pools most people are used to swimming in. We can be millions of miles apart and still share some very common experiences and joys of life.

A little boy is annoyed while his mother scrubs his face and gives him a bath

Mothers across the globe will recognize that expression of sheer annoyance on their child’s faces when forced to take a bath and wash their faces. Halfway across the world this Bengali woman is doing the same to her son by the village lake. Nasif’s work truly brings out the common experiences of human experiences and relationships and reminds us that we all way more similar than we are different.

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