Rafiqul Islam Raf
How I Started
I wanted to go abroad after finishing my EEE course from Ahsanullah University. However, my family wasn’t favouring this idea, and I wasn’t very keen to pursue the career of an Engineer either. My camera offered me a refuge from the monotony I was going through at that time. After completing my introductory Photography course from Chanchal Mahmood Photography Academy, I got into Pathshala. The institute helped me hone my skill in photography and enriched me with the nuances of journalism; however, my teachers were not encouraging much because my focus was more on commercial and fashion photography. I am grateful to one of my teachers, Abir Abdullah, who is currently the Photo Editor of Prothom Alo since he inspired me to carry on with what I meant to do in the realm of photography. Eventually, I created a studio and started working with models, who became my brand ambassadors. I can recall about the D-juice shoot: one of the commercial shoots that gave me the much-needed breakthrough and made me become a household name.
Fashion Photography-Now & Then
When we started, the transition from film to digital was just beginning, and it was massive. We adapted very quickly and learned how to have a good grasp of the techniques and started developing our signature. This is something I miss in the fashion photographers of today. Instead of having abundant technology at the reach of their hand, upcoming photographers are stuck in limbo. I firmly believe if they do more experimentation, they will be able to show the spark that will bring new things in the industry and eventually will help them develop their signature style.
Even though I am known as a fashion photographer, clicking portraits have always been very close to my heart. Photographers like David Lazar, Jimmy Nelson, and Steve McCurry have always inspired me immensely. In the case of fashion photography, Rafique Sayed from India has a special place in my heart. Daniel Jackson’s photographs too have enchanted me time and again.
From a technology point of view, the latest mirrorless camera encourages me to take more black and white photos. I will always go with a Fujifilm XT2 body when I feel like taking an artistic image.
Last but not least
Doing something new fascinates me. However, I often see my works being copied, which was frustrating in the beginning but gradually, I realised that those incidents were encouraging me to push my boundaries further and do more new projects. I am happy to boast about being a pioneer in making fashion videos. Currently, I am working with models to develop their video portfolios; which I believe would help them gain a new footing in the visual industry.
How I Started
I never even thought in the beginning that I would take fashion photography as a profession. From my boyhood, I was fascinated by gaming, and all I could dream of was to become a game designer someday. However, like many other young people of this country, I too ended up being admitted into studying BBA with a major in MIS, which I never completed. I had a DSLR camera, and I was taking photographs as a hobby once in a while. After that, I set up my own business of producing TV shows. Due to some circumstances, the business wasn’t doing good, and I eventually focused more on fashion photography. I am lucky to have worked with all the big brands in the country. Being a self-taught photographer, I always feel an intense urge to keep learning about new techniques and skills. This aspect made my journey more fun so far.
Fashion Photography-Now and Then
When I started back in 2011, the market was small and was not connected with the international market. Needless to say, our works were not being exposed to the global scene. In just over a decade, all those circumstances have changed. If you look at the market, we have many established brands, and every year new ones are coming to secure their position under the limelight. The expansion of the market ushered in a recent flood of talents competing with each other to nab their niche. At the same time, technology has been swiping us off our feet every day with new surprises. We can learn more and earn more. Global brands are seeing our photos, and we have chances to compare and do better. I am optimistic that that day is not far when our fashion photographers would work for international fashion houses.
I am a big fan of Helmut Newton. I always find his works so unique and amazing. A lot of people ask me if I would want to emulate his work; to that question, my answer is always, no!
I don’t think I can ever do that and I don’t even want to try.
For my work, I often swing between Fujifilm gfx-50s (medium format) and Canon 5D Mark IV (full-frame).
Last but not least
Due to the pandemic, all activities came to a standstill. The good thing is offices are slowly opening, and clients with whom we work are also gearing up with their plans. I want to do something new in my upcoming assignments. Not only to get out of the boredom but also to give something exciting to the industry.