Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Hasan Chandan is one of the master photographers of Bangladesh
My grandfather’s elder brother, Rois Uddin Mandal, was a pundit in Bogra. He taught art at “Guru Training” school around 1917. He was very enthusiastic about photography - a nascent science and art at that time. In the mid-30s he started practicing photography, developing and printing photos at his home. My father and all three of his brothers were inspired in photography from him in their childhood and became serious amateur photographers later in their life. When my father went to America in 1958 for a Hydroelectric Engineering diploma, he bought his first twin-lens reflex Rolleicord camera. He also purchased a Tower 8mm movie camera at that time. My father also used to make contact prints from 6X6 negatives at home. I saw all these from childhood. When I became seven, I used to show my friends the movies my father made in different places in America. Using his cameras at that time remained only a dream. One day I got a cheap camera (Kodak Click) from one of my uncles and my father loaded a film in that. I was overwhelmed and started shooting pictures of my surroundings. None of those negatives are with me now. I can remember that I didn’t take pictures only of my friends but of the beautiful landscapes of the Kaptai Dam at the Karnaphuli Hydroelectric Power Station area. After processing and printing of that film, my father was quite convinced of my hand in photography. One day he gave me his second twin lens camera Minolta Autocord - a professional camera, along with a bulb flash gun. He taught me a few techniques of achieving correct exposure - the Exposure Value System (EVS). I took lots of photos after that including my tenth birthday in 1970.
My father embraced martyrdom on April 15, 1971. I grew up with the knowledge he gave me about photography and camera. I kept exploring photography since then with guidance from my uncle until 1981.
In 1981, I found a child’s portrait taken by me, exhibiting in the country’s first national exhibition organized by the Bangladesh Photographic Society (BPS), credited in the name of the worker of the studio where I gave the negative for printing. I reported the incident to the then president of BPS, Mr. Manzur Alam Beg. After listening to the background and my interest in photography, he admitted me to the Begart Institute of Photography in September 1982, the first photography institute in Bangladesh established in earlier 1960. I became a member of BPS and won the first prize of the monthly photo contest on same month. A few months later another senior photographer Dr. Ansaruddin Ahmed in icddr,b having seen two of my photos told my mother, “Your son has got eyes.” His appreciation added fuel to the fire that had already been kindling within me and ushered me into photography with added zeal resulting into bagging quite a few numbers of prizes in BPS monthly contests until 1993. He was also my mentor in black and white printing and developing films. Became BPS Photographer of The Year in 1986, winning three prizes, 1st, 2nd, and Honorable Mention out of six awards. National awards from different photographic societies around the country just poured into my hand. Among 17 international awards, I got the first International Federation of Art Photography (FIAP) Gold Medal in Bangladesh, in an international photo contest in Spain, won the grand prize in the Asian Cultural Center for UNESCO (ACCU), Japan. Also availed an Honorable Mention in NIKON Photo Contest 1986 and 3rd prize in 1991.
I started my career as a freelance photographer since 1985, worked for UNICEF and many other NGOs including Container TV, Film and Television Production Inc., Switzerland, and many advertising agencies professionally until 1989. I worked as an official photographer for the Bangladesh National Museum in 1988, joined several workshops on photography, journalism, documentary, and architecture, conducted by both Bangladeshi and foreign trainers from the U.S., Germany, and England. Got the distinction ‘Artist’ from FIAP in 1991. Makin Agency of Photography was born, in 1990 in a storeroom at my home, to accommodate my increasing photographic activities including black and white printing.
Some friends joined this home-based organization gradually, and the agency turned in to Map Photo Agency – the first cooperative photo agency in Bangladesh.
In 1995, I was invited by the French Photographic Federation in an Author’s Exhibition. Ten photos from my book The People at Kamalapur Railway Station were exhibited in the Pablo Picasso Museum and the Victor Hugo Museum for one month (till date I am the only Bangladeshi photographer having such honor), where I got the FIAP and French Photographic Federation Silver Medal. FIAP awarded me with the “Excellence” distinction in 1996. I participated as Jury member in many national and international photography competitions organized in Bangladesh. Many photos were published in local and international newspapers including The New York Times, NY and Rheinische Post, Germany. Since 1991, I am teaching photography and lecturing in workshops, conducting basic courses in the Bangladesh Photographic Institute, served as the course coordinator, and lecturer for a course conducted by the Begart Institute of Photography. I am also working on various documentary projects and architectural, interior, industrial and archaeological photography professionally, and teaching photography at Architecture Department of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and University of Asia Pacific (UAP).