Shafiur Rahman, Journalist and Documentary Maker, announced an extraordinary photography competition for Rohingyas. The goal was to document Rohingyas' life during the pandemic time. The competition ran between May and August; the results should be announced soon.
We also have a short interview with Mr. Rahman about his idea to organise this competition.
1) What inspired you to organise this exhibition?
''Some of the youths in the camps have smartphones. They love to take and share photos. In my time walking around in the camps, I have spoken to many interested in documenting their lives. They were always sending me snaps showing me some issue or problem they had encountered in their camp. During the lockdown, I thought it would be the perfect project for the Rohingya to document their own lives. ''
2) How did you choose/select the winners?
''The 1600 plus images submitted were whittled down according to the two themes of the contest and judged for composition, creativity, and conception by three people—we privileged storytelling over things like "bokeh" or rule of thirds or perfect lighting, etc. Liza Boschin, an Italian broadcast journalist and a published photographer, is given a shortlist of around 200 images to select. Liza will decide the winners.''
3) What were the general themes you noticed in the photo entries?
''There are breathtaking examples of how difficult life is in the camps and also surprising moments of fun and hilarity. One image from Camp 26 in Teknaf shows the horrendous water shortage issue and the lengths refugees go to get water. An example of a fun moment is when a photographer submitted a photo of a kid who had fashioned his covid mask from a banana leaf. ''
4) What do you know about the refugees' experience when they were capturing these photographs?
''For the period of the competition, there was no 3G or 4G internet in the camps. Photographers went to great lengths to send high-resolution images from their phones. Some took risks photographing the installation of barbed wire pillars in their camps. One photographer risked his job as a volunteer at a medical facility. He sent images of the Rohingya, who had been rescued from a boat operated by traffickers. There was tremendous eagerness and determination to capture camp life. Many complained that the 4 images per month submission limit was insufficient. As a result, we decided to increase the limit. ''
We've selected some images for you to peruse. We strongly recommend you to go check out these photographs.
You can view a lot of images on their Instagram:
And at this website: