Growing up surrounded by photography in his father's studio, the young Bangladeshi has found work as a fashion photographer and found a rare and vivid vision in his personal work
Hadi Uddin grew up surrounded by photography – his father owned a commercial studio and both technical skill and the ways of the darkroom were second nature by the time he took his place by Uddin senior’s side. It wasn’t long, however, before he became disillusioned with his daily tasks. “I didn’t enjoy the lack of creativity,” he says. “The work mainly involved taking passport photographs.”
In 2010, after graduating with an MA in Business Studies from Bangladesh’s National University in Jessore, Uddin moved to Dhaka. As far as his parents knew, he had found a corporate job in the capital; in reality he had started to work as a fashion photographer for Canvas, a culture magazine from the Middle East. He has been in the Bangladeshi capital ever since, exhibiting his personal work at festivals such as Chobi Mela in Bangladesh, and Dali International in China.
Uddin’s experience in studio and fashion photography have contributed to his “liberal use of flash”, which gives his work an unapologetically bold style. His images are saturated with noise and activity – characteristics particularly well-illustrated in the project Here, For Now. “I wanted to show the condition of the many people who contribute in making the city of Dhaka work and grow, but who themselves have no fixed homes,” he says.
“I have this urge to experiment with my personal work. I try to do new things, go to unknown places and explore modes of storytelling that I have previously been unaccustomed to. That I’m preserving a moment that would have otherwise been lost in time is something that I am very conscious of while photographing. I like to depict these moments in an exaggerated manner and sometimes the photograph comes out raw.”
Munem Wasif, a fellow Bangladeshi photographer, nominated Uddin to BJP as One to Watch this year. “Hadi Uddin photographed people in the suburbs of Dhaka, where poverty, pollutions and hunger are vividly present in everyday life; this always creates a trap to produce images that serves the development sectors,” he says. “But his work challenges our notions.
“Dirty mosquito net, a sweet kiss in the neighbourhood, goats having sex, naked crying babies, a loving couple, angry lady yelling – all is part of one life. His images travel between documentary and fiction. Sometimes they become magical, but without denying the reality.”
Uddin is now concentrating on personal projects that embrace this all-encompassing lust for life: he has recently stopped working full-time as a fashion photographer to make more time for freelance commissions, documenting the streets of Bangladesh.