My Photo Box – Bangladesh with Mark Pacura

If you’re following our social media accounts might have noticed our latest product – my photo box. It’s our new baby ( or a new version of existing one ) that encourages everyone, from professional to amateur photographers, to print their own work. To inspire you to do so we’re going to showcase some personal projects or new photography avenues taken by our clients and friends. We’re starting with our own founder, Mark Pacura, and his photo trip to Bangladesh.

What is this project about?
It’s something I wanted to do since coming across Maciej Dakowicz‘s “Cardiff after Dark” and his other work, and that is to go to one of his street photography workshops, in a place I would not normally visit by myself. I love Asia, I’ve been to many countries in the region, but never to those of the beaten track. Bangladesh blew me away, and so did Maciej’s approach and professionalism, so hopefully as soon as this pandemic is under control, I’ll be able to attend another workshop.

What was the hardest part of this project?
Changing the way I normally shoot. I don’t usually take street photos, and chaotic streets of Bangladesh are “slightly” busier than my natural habitats like Glencoe or Isle of Skye. It was hard to digest what one can describe as a madness for the first few days. Most of the time I work “with less is more” approach, trying to show as little elements on my photos as possible, which is not what necessarily works in street photography. My obsession with straight lines, symmetry or the fact that 99% of my work is shot at f1.8 did not help as well. Street photography is all about the moment and the bigger scene, not just a tiny part of it. In the end I decided to compromise a little on both approaches and find a happy middle point.

You were a total stranger to them with camera in his hands, coming from a different place, wearing different clothes. How did you manage to get so close and take all these portraits?
I didn’t plan to take portraits. Approaching a total stranger to ask if I can take their portrait is not something I’m confident to do, and can’t imagine doing it in Europe for example. But Bangladeshi people love being photographed and I’ve taken the first few portraits, because I’ve been asked to do it. And that’s how the idea to make a mini-series from it was born. I’ve a collection of B&W portraits from this trip that I plan to print in a small book.

What equipment did you use? 
This is another case of less is more, which is even more important with street photography. It’s pretty much impossible to stay invisible while shooting in Bangladesh, so at least I tried to keep my gear to minimum. I shot with Sony A7RIII and 35mm 1.8 lens. The combo worked perfectly – fast and sharp, relatively small and light weight.

Your favourite moment?
The whole trip ( including the 12hrs on the plane, because I miss flying so much at the moment ). I have never been in the situation where I can shoot for 10hrs straight, 7 days in a row. It’s both physically and mentally demanding, even more if you’re surrounded by constant noise, dust and petrol fumes. But it’s really awarding. People in Bangladesh are incredible, and it’s so inspiring to see how they can seem to be so happy while having so little. The most memorable moments will definitely be those when I was hiding in the corner one of the big markets to watch the everyday life, and had many chances to witness how everyone, despite the fact of not having much, is keen to help those who are even more unfortunate.

Advice for everyone going there? 
Do not hesitate, it’s beautiful. Also, choose the hotel room away from the main road. It’s loud from 6am to 11pm.

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