Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
Growing up in a middle-class family belonging to Gazipur, Probal Rashid had an ordinary childhood. Completing his schooling and Bachelor's in Business Administration in his home-town, Probal joined the Centre for Asian Arts and Cultures for a 2 month-long foundation course on photography to cater to his childhood knack for taking photographs.
“My parents really wanted me to complete my MBA and get a corporate job. To make them happy, I journeyed to Dhaka and got it done.” He joined a financial aid company for an internship, but his passion for photography did not waver. “I always carried my camera with me to work. I would take pictures of my colleagues, of my office. I couldn't concentrate on my work,” he says. By then he came across the famous photograph, 'The Afghan Girl', taken by photojournalist Steve McCurry.
Probal then quit his corporate job and bought himself a good camera to pursue his true passion. In 2007, he joined Pathshala and completed a 2 year course.
He joined Bangladesh Agriculture University and worked as a photographer there for almost 4 years. “Even then, it was not enough for me. All I did was take photos of events and research-based photographs. None of it was out of passion,” he shares. He used to take photographs for himself during weekends and began working on his own project- a photo-series on industrial pollution.
Out of sheer frustration, Probal quit the university job too. “My mother was not happy at all. She was sure that I would never get married because I'm a photographer. The society I grew up in still has a very middle-class mentality. I ultimately did get married because my wife fought for me and my profession. I wouldn't give up photography for anything, not even marriage, and she knew it.”
Despite all hurdles, Probal kept chasing his dreams. He came across a photography competition in Japan called Days Japan, submitted his photo-series and ended up winning an award. Thus, began his real journey in the world of photography.
His photographs have been published in many national and international newspapers and magazines such as The National Geographic, Forbes, GEO, New York Post, Days Japan, Paris Match, The Wall Street Journal, Stern, RVA, The Telegraph, Focus magazine and The Guardian. Moreover, his photographs have been exhibited in Bangladesh, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, UK, USA and some of his works have been selected by the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts for their permanent collection.
Probal is the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including the Pictures Of the Year International (POYi), Days Japan Photojournalism Award, China International Press Photo Award (CHIPP), NPPA's Best of Photojournalism Awards, Yonhap International Press Photo Awards, KL International Photo award, FCCT/OnAsia Photojournalism, “Zoom-in on Poverty” Global Photo Award, CGAP microfinance photo award, WPGA Annual Pollux Awards in UK, International Year of Biodiversity Award, The 68th, 71st and 72nd International Photographic Salon of Japan (Ashahi Shimbun) Award.
Probal is now a documentary photographer and photojournalist working in Bangladesh, represented by Zuma Press, USA, and just last year completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Photojournalism through a scholarship programme of World Press Photo at the Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism (ACFJ) at Ateneo De Manila University in the Philippines.
According to Probal, photography is mostly about passion and love. “Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and if you love taking photos, you will find beauty worth taking photos of in every corner,” he says. “There is real struggle and a lot of hard work involved, so it's not something you should do if your aim is fame. You should love taking photographs, or not take photos at all.”