Jashim Salam’s work revolves around topics that are relevant to his country and its people.This young photojournalist calls himself a story-teller who conveys his message mostly through photographs. Story of Charak Puja, which literally translates as ‘Wheel Worship’, is of an annual folk festival that falls in March each year, marking the last day of Bengali year and is observed by the followers of Hindu religion all over rural Bangladesh.
‘The power to capture the essence of life, human emotions and the story that leads to these emotions persuaded me to take-up photojournalism and documentary photography. It need not be any intense topic. Anything subtle, or what many might even think of as trivial, but daily life manifesting emotions capable of engaging an audience, is enough incentive for me to go ahead and capture the story and represent my country, which I remain immensely proud of,’ says Jashim Salam. ‘I document my own culture, heritage and festivals along with other social issues. Charak Puja is one of the most ancient religious festivals that is still celebrated in some rural villages of Bangladesh. It is slowly losing its grandeur in modern-day society. I am afraid that in coming years this too will disappear, like many other religious celebrations, taking with it our cultural past.’
‘The year, according to Bengali calendar, ends with Chaitra Songkranti. This is when people arrange village fairs and perform rituals, including forms of body piercing. A group of Hindu devotees perform these rituals. It is a folk festival celebrated in the Hindu community of some rural areas of Bangladesh and in some sections in India’s state of West Bengal. People come out to pray to Lord Shiva, and the offering which are collected from all the surrounding villages are later distributed among the many gathered devotees,’ says Salam.
Jashim Salam is currently working on Water World, his personal project on climate change, and its effect, especially on urban settings, like his home city, Chittagong. ‘This is a very personal ongoing project as the tidal floods affect my family and my home regularly. The effects of climate change – rising sea-level and sea-surface temperature, carbon emissions by First World countries, deforestation, global warming – have brought a sudden vulnerability to the lives and livelihoods of people living in Chittagong city and coastal areas of Bangladesh,’ says Salam. ‘Last several years, my family has been greatly affected by the tidal floods. Lately, our home, which is situated in the heart of the city of Chittagong, goes under tidal waters often. If the sea-level keeps increasing, I could lose my roots. With all my childhood memories along with my photographs, I am portraying a city that I am deeply connected with – and the suffering that experienced along with its inhabitants.’
Jashim Salam’s message to us all…..
‘Take your time to understand what makes you happy rather than tagging along with the hype around you. Patience is important. Happiness and success will follow.’
© Jashim Salam
Jashim Salam is a documentary photographer based in Bangladesh.
Graduated in photography from Pathshala – The South Asian Media Institute.
He started his photographic career with DrikNEWS agency. He has since worked for New Age, an English daily of Bangladesh, Drik Picture Agency, Majority World, NUR Photo Agency Demotix and Corbis Images.
His work has been published in numerous national and international newspapers, magazines and publications including The Sunday Times Magazine, Lens Blog – New York Times, Reuters, National Geographic, SPIEGEL, Observer, New Internationalist, The Guardian, WIRED, Corbis, Reader’s Digest, Himal South Asian, Better Photography, The Climate Crisis, CNN, Photojournale, AP,ZUMA Press, SIPA Press, Garuda Indonesia magazine, Forum Magazine, Daily Star, New Age, Prothom Alo, New Nations and many others.
He is the recipient of many prestigious awards including, Jury’s special award in 6th Humanity Photo Awards in China, Emirates Photography award in UAE, Ian Parry scholarship in England, Fotovisura grant in USA, Mosco foto awards, YIPPA photojournalism award in Korea, FCCT photojournalism award in Thailand, IPA street photography award in Singapore, Asian Press Photo contest in China, 69th International Photographic Salon of Japan (Ashahi Shimbun) award, People and Planet award in Australia, CEDAW Photo award in U.S.A, CGAP microfinance photo award, International year of biodiversity award, Europe and Asia – dialogue of cultures photo award in Russia, Kuanas photo contest award, and the Garuda Indonesia International photo award.
His work has been featured in exhibitions worldwide including Visa Pour l’Image, in Perpignan, France, The Photoville festival in New York, Atrium of the Town Hall, The Hague, Netherlands, Maison familiale Pro Juventute, Geneva, Switzerland, The Getty Images Gallery, London, Gallery of the French Alliance Foundation Paris, France.
Jashim Salam photographed the residents of flooded houses in Bangladesh. His pictures show how man is exposed to the water masses – and the silent terror that triggers the disaster.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Salam, you photograph people in Bangladesh , whose homes are flooded on a regular basis – including in Chittagong City, your home town. What are the causes of these floods?
Salam: It started very slowly, five or six years ago.At that time, the water flooded for the first time in the homes and stayed a few days. This has been repeated every year from June to October. The monsoon brings a lot of rain at this time. In addition to the climate change. The water is rising year after year later.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How can the residents to protect themselves against the floods?
Salam: You try to back up a makeshift their homes. But most have no money and can not do much. I live with my parents, our house is constantly flooded. We provide the electrical equipment somewhere further up from where the water does not reach them.
Jashim Salam was born in 1978 in Chittagong City and is a documentary photographer from Bangladesh. He studied photography and worked for numerous newspapers and news agencies. His photographs are exhibited including France, China, Great Britain and the United States.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: That’s incredibly dangerous.
Salam: Yes, that’s it. A child has even received an electric shock and died.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What have the parents done?
Salam: The parents are very poor, who can not do much.
SP iegel ONLINE: How please?
Salam: The people who need to know that they do not get their due.They have many problems: They are poor, live in shacks and slums.Some do not even have beds in which they can sleep sleep directly on the floor. And when night comes the flood, then they wake up to the water. As long as it is on the ground, they can not sleep for a few days.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why no one protested and complained a help?
Salam: People do not come into their own, even if they protest. The government does not help, she says, the flood was not always there, only a few days. The politicians have apparently not yet realized how bad the situation really is.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: The water should be very dirty.
Salam: It is very dirty, it comes even from different regions, is often salty. People get rashes from it. My family and I, we are the last time also got sick. We had terrible diarrhea. The whole day routine changed.One has to protect his things and constantly clean everything again. The location is really very complicated.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do not you pull away?
Salam: I’m born and raised in Chittagong. I know this place very well.We have very great fear of the future. I think we will eventually have to leave and go away the house. But we do not know where to go, the water penetrates even deeper into the city before. Here many offices and shops are flooded. In addition, more and more people come to the cities because they can not grow because of the salty water on the land.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you afraid that buildings collapse?
Salam: The water damaged the houses. But still no building is therefore collapsed. This probably needs to happen first, so that people really understand the seriousness of the situation.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How and what do you live in Bangladesh?
Salam: I’m a freelance photographer and may even live on, even though the jobs have declined lately.The magazines and newspapers are no longer willing to pay so much money for photographers as before. In the meantime, anyone can upload images in his network. Beyond that, I just wish I could protect our house better or build a new one. But that costs a lot of time and money. These tides make me just crazy.