East or West, Bengal is the best!

E or W

Last year, I was invited by my friend and photographer,  Anil,  to be featured in a photo book,  A Month, 6 Artists and a Book that he was putting together for the Solo Photo Book Project that he’d signed up for.  I not only got to experience a photo shoot but also saw him work at making his first book and I must confess I was tempted to make one of my own.   After a year of taking photographs almost everyday,  I felt more prepared and jumped at the chance when it came around to sign up.

You can see the fruit of my labour – East or West, Bengal is the best!here.   It is based on photographs taken over a 3 week period.   A few have been taken when accompanying Anil on his photo shoots.  You can see his book, A Slice of Life, here.

P1140214

I had more or less decided to skip participating this year because of an unexpected opportunity of having solo art exhibition which kept me extremely busy.  For the four days of early morning (6am!!) shoots,  I mostly took video of the mad rush of frenetic activity in the fish market, Karwan Bazaar and the boats dredging and carrying sand on the Buri Ganga and at an abandoned stretch of railway track.  I was hoping to use still from the video as references for future work.  After the Solo finished I suddenly had a lot of time on hand and decided to give it a go.  On two of the days I ran out of tape and pulled out my still camera to take a few pics.  I’ve used some of these in the book.

P1140635

The one taken above of the sleeping vendor is one of my faves followed closely by the one of the men peering through the bars on the truck they were travelling in.  The one below is of a vegetable vendor who came up to me and demanded to be photographed and then proceeded to perform some form of martial arts.  He had everyone around him in splits.  Quite obviously a Kungfu movie buff.  He didn’t want to give up on his cigarette even for that brief performance!   Here’s the shortlist of 83 photographs from about a 1000.  The book has a smaller sub set of these.

Fu Man Choo!

In case you’re still reading and want to know more about the project, I’ve cut and pasted some info from the website.  Click on the links below to read about it in more detail and maybe join in next year?

What is SoFoBoMo

SoFoBoMo is short for Solo Photo Book Month – a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish, in 31 days, at more or less the same time. It’s modeled loosely on NaNoWriMo, where participating writers all write novels in a month, and NaSoAlMo, where musicians write and record solo albums in a month.

For SoFoBoMo, the goal is to make the photos, write any needed text, layout the book, and produce a PDF image of the book, all in 31 days. Rather than confining it to a single calendar month, we use a ‘fuzzy month’, where you can pick any contiguous 31 day period inside a two month window – this makes it a bit more flexible and encourages broader participation.

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19 thoughts on “East or West, Bengal is the best!

  1. Hi Ujwala,

    I love your work! I’m a Masters’ student in Toronto, Ca. Although professionally I’m a software engineer, I dabble in art sometimes. I usually stick to medium like pastels, watercolor pencils and charcoal. I was wondering if you’d give me the permission to draw out one of ur canvas paintings… purely for personal pleasure and no commercial needs.

    Thanks,
    Shilpi

  2. Ujwala, I’ve sort of stumbled on your SoFoBoMo book by accident and wanted to tell you how completely I enjoyed it. I’ll need to spend more time on this site and see more of your work. I lived in Dhaka from 1977 to 1982, then in Pakistan until 1986 and your work has brought back a lot of memories. Thank you for putting in the work for this and for having it out there for me to see.

  3. Lisa thanks for looking and your lovely comment. We’ve moved to Colombo and I miss the crowds and colour of Dhaka already! I’m very keen on making a visit to a few cities in Pakistan and hope to get an opportunity to do so soon. And if you put up your work online do let me know. I’d love to have a look.

  4. Wow Congratulations, that is wonderful to be included in the book! And love your images that Ive seen so far.

    I have just put together some of my photos I took while living 10 months in India where I tried to capture the spirit of its people… http://matthieu.net/photography

    All the best with your future and look forward to reading more!

  5. I had a look at your photographs. They are very good! The book was made by me for the SoFoBoMo(Links in the post above) project. I made it using scribus and uploaded it to issuu. It’s digital and not been printed. I had fun taking the pics, arranging and designing the book. Look forward to more photographs from you.

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