Biography of Andrew Biraj: Struggling for visual literacy
Andrew Biraj, one of the World Press Photo winners (2011) and the representative of REUTERS in Bangladesh. This hard core photojournalist was born in 1982 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After completing an advanced diploma in photography from Pathshala, the South Asian Institute Media Academy and a BA in photography from the University of Bolton in 2005 he started his profession as photojournalist. And have travelled Afghanistan, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore and some parts of Europe for professional duty and in pursue himself as a social documentary photographer. He wants to raise voices against injustice and discrimination of the society through his images and wants to shoe the untold stories of his surroundings using his images.
His works has been published in numerous national and international newspapers, magazines and publications including Time.com, The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, National Geographic Online, The Times, The Independent of UK, Asian GEO, New age, Forum Magazine of Daily Star and in many other international publications.
His published photojournalism documentaries are The Fashion Victims, Cyclone Nargis Aftermath, The Caged Dreams, Gabura, Kabul Diary, State Excluded, Bahini and Living with water. And his works has been published in Yangon Photo Festival (Myanmar,2009), Visa Pour Image (France,2008), Angkor Photo Festival (Cambodia,2008,2007), International Photography Biennial of the Islamic World (Iran,2008), National Art Gallery (Malaysia,2006) and in some other national and international group exhibitions. Andrew Biraj has achieved so many national and international prestigious awards like 3rd prize in Daily Life category of World Press Photo (2011), The World Press Photo JoopSwart Masterclass grant (2008), 3rd prize in “Best of Photojournalism” by NPPA (2010) etc.
Some international photographers whose works are favorite to him are Alex Webb, Paolo Palic Grien, Franseco Zizola and Nan Goldin. He is currently using Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 1D Mark IV and Canon 7D. And his lenses are 16-35 f2.8, 70-200 f2.8, 24mm f1.4, 300mm f2.8, 500mm f4.
Darshan Chakma – How did you get influenced to become a photographer/photojournalist ?
Andrew Biraj – In 1998 after my basic course on Photography I saw the first Chobimela – The war we forgot and in 2002 World Press Photo. And after watching these, actually I got influenced to become a photojournalist.
Darshan Chakma – What is more important good knowledge or good equipment?
Andrew Biraj – Yes, obviously having good knowledge is more important in photography and photojournalism. In this days everyone has digital SLRs but only a few have the intellectual vision to be a photographer or photojournalist and to do so one should have academic knowledge on photography.
Darshan Chakma – Which Bangladeshi photographers/photojournalists
do you admire?
Andrew Biraj – In Bangladesh, I like the works of Naibuddin Ahmed and Rashid Talukder. They are the true legend of our country.
Darshan Chakma – Tell us about your own most memorable photograph?
Andrew Biraj – No, don’t have such a memorable photograph yet and I have just started taking photos; there are many more left to capture.
Darshan Chakma – How much challenging is photography/photojournalism as a profession in Bangladesh?
Andrew Biraj – I think in Bangladesh photojournalism as a profession is not very hard and difficult. But there is a problem about the mentality on photography. People are not so much concern about photography and they should improve their point of view and thoughts about photojournalism.
Darshan Chakma – How do you play a role with your photo/stories in society?
Andrew Biraj – Actually, photo stories are not vastly distributed like motion medium. We still have not reached to the mass level and have not spread any turbulence. So, I want to work for public’s visual literacy on photography and I believe that I am doing this successfully.
Darshan Chakma – What is your professional goal/dream project as a photographer/photojournalist?
Andrew Biraj – I never had any professional goal in my life and I do not want to be so ambitious about it. And I have so many works to do and always intend to work in public sector broadly. And obviously as a photojournalist want to produce more social and photojournalism documentary.
Finally, for the growing up photographers he has suggested to take more and more photos and try to find out their field of interest where someone is good at.His photo stories are available at http://www.andrewbiraj.com