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Bangladesh Street Life

Taking people's portraits can be both intimate and intrusive. When taken with a telephoto, at a distance, the subject is usually unaware but up close it can get very personal. The Magnum photographer Robert Capa once said: '' If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough.'' More often than not I try to build up some quick rapport with those I am photographing before pointing my lens at them. Most Bangladeshis were happy to be photographed and would stare unflinchingly into the camera, at times with a smile behind their eyes, while others bared their souls as seen in the first image in the gallery where the child labourer looks almost traumatised by his harsh life. In Bangladesh's capital of Dhaka I spent an afternoon photographing the impoverished shanty dwellings erected right next to a busy railway line. There was that uncomfortable mix of extreme poverty and intimate close-knit communal living. To take the picture of the family above I had to squat down right at the entrance to their makeshift tent dwelling. They were quite welcoming and I was able to capture both the dignity and hardship of their cramped family life; the devoted mother cutting vegetables and the shining eyes of the youngest boy seemed to reflect a resilient spirit, even a beauty amidst the squalor. A short while later in the heart of the shanty town I was mobbed by a group of about fifty kids, friendly and laughing at first but then overexcited and boisterous as they began to tug at my clothes and camera bag. The sheer numbers were overwhelming as they crowded claustrophobically around me. Sweating and fearful, I made a hasty exit to the privileged comfort and solitude of my hotel unsure of whether I had any right to document such harsh street life. 

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