Sayeeda Khanam, the first woman photographer of Bangladesh, is an inspiration to many, for her courageous endeavours. Famous personalities, including the likes of Neil Armstrong, Queen Elizabeth, Satyajit Ray, Indira Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman among others, have been captured by her camera.
Recently, she received the prestigious Ekushey Padak. To honour her achievement, various photographers of the country organised a progamme at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, where Sayeeda Khanam was present along with her friends and well-wishers.
In the beginning of the event, a documentary film based on Sayeeda Khanam's life, directed by Ismat Jahan, was screened. It is Ismat Jahan's first ever documentary film.
In the film, Sayeeda Khanam talks about the very first time she took a picture of two kabuliwalas (hawkers) with a box camera. Ever since then, her love for capturing moments, people and nature only grew with time, leading her to pursue photography as a career. Her pictures were first published in Begum Magazine, a monthly Bangla magazine founded in 1947. The film also showed her friendship with renowned director Satyajit Ray and Indian sarod player Ustad Allauddin Khan.
She has motivated plenty of young women to take up photography as a profession. Many from the local photography community attended the event, where she was honoured with flowers, as people celebrated her life with music and poetry. The event concluded with her speech. “I did not succeed overnight,” she said. “I believe photographers need to produce good work and they need to work hard for it.”