“Nature is my inspiration,” says photographer Shibly Shiraj. Forty-three of his photos, capturing the beauty of American landscape, are currently on exhibition at the EMK Center. Shibly shares his views and plans to highlight the beauty of Bangladesh on the global stage in an exclusive interview with the Dhaka Courier’s Shamim Ahmed
Please tell us about yourself
I liked to travel and explore new places since childhood. This is probably why I went to America at the age of 21. I started my own business after studying computer science. I have visited many wonderful places in the US and 21 other countries during my 25-year stay in America. I travel to get close to nature and capture its beauty with my camera.
What did inspire you to start photography?
Nature. It is my inspiration and guides me towards its emptiness. To me, the richness of a landscape image lies in its emptiness.
What does it take to be a photographer?
All one needs is love and passion for photography. As for me, I love nature and spend hours looking for the perfect scenery. There were days I returned home without taking even a single photo.
What does photography mean to you?
An expression of one’s self. Your pictures determine how you see nature. A photograph also symbolizes the person behind it. There’s no right or wrong in photography.
What determines the success or failure of a landscape photo?
Every photo is unique in its own way. For example, if you and I take two photos of the same subject, yours might score higher than mine in some criteria. To me, both images are equally great, as they are our best possible creation.
Tell us about your travel photography?
Photography is like a religion to me where I submit my soul to nature. I prefer shooting landscape panorama and I am very selective while capturing photos. Some sights compel me to capture them – and those are of landscape.
Do you plan to show the world Bangladesh’s beauty through exhibitions?
I want to create two albums – ‘Beautiful Bangladesh’ and ‘Vendors of Bangladesh’. I will present Bangladeshi landscape to the world through my photography.
How will your photography exhibition benefit the Bangladeshi audience?
I hope young people, planning to visit the USA, will get a preview of what they are going to experience over there.
Which one will you choose if you’re asked to pick the best photo from your current exhibition?
The one with the “Pine Trees” captured from Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming in 2015. It is because of the lines in that photo.
Do you have any advice for those planning to start landscape photography?
Go out and shoot a lot, make mistakes and try to be better than you are. Shoot for yourself. If your photos make you feel better, then that is the best inspiration and it will take you forward. Don’t worry about camera quality. The world’s best pictures can be captured with the lowest quality camera. Capturing images are like capturing yourselves. Just try to know about the lights.