Rahul Talukder – Bangladesh Sangbad 71

Rahul Talukder
P.29 The British Journal of photography.

The images can be viewed here:

http://www.worldpressphoto.org/people/rahul-talukder

As I progress through this module I am realising that whilst I certainly appreciate the singular journalistic image that ‘speaks a thousand words’, I am also realising that bodies of work that tell a fuller story is my personal preferred style of presentation. A journalistic body of work of a international news line transcends language and literacy and provides a much fuller awareness of ‘the bigger picture’

I think this is probably the analyst in me coming out. I always did want to know what else was going on outside of a frame. I like to know that I am being given the chance to understand the bigger picture as it were.

In the March edition of BJP there is an article about World Press Photo Awards and on page 29 there is a body of 8 photographs taken by Rahul Talukder.
The images take us through 8 separate aspects to the Bangladesh factory collapse. I wondered why the images were presented in black and white but it didn’t take me long to realise that the addition of colour would possibly mean that the body of work wouldn’t sit so well together with too many distracting elements. Apart from the appalling scenes that I’ll come back to, the photographer has still managed to produce images that have an element of graphic design and poignancy.

The fist image gives us an elevated view of the entire scene and puts the story in context The broad street scene shows a line of buildings with the collapsed building punctuating the scene. A sea of people in the hundreds are gathered watching and waiting and the crane situated in the sea of people attempts to lift debris. Culturally this is a critical incident scene that we would not see in a developed world. The area would be cordoned and tightly controlled with emergency vehicles gathered, and family would be taken care of in a ‘holding centre’. Notably there isn’t one emergency vehicle to be seen.

Image 2, this  image takes us right into the collapsed building where rescue workers are ill equipped for the job at hand. The photographer who is himself working in extremely dangerous conditions has still managed to compose the image of the rescue workers whilst hanging over a deep shaft. The angle of  the shot gives disorientating diagonals to enhance the sense of danger…..as if watching the recue workers un roped and clambering wasn’t already enough.

Image 3 shows a lady being lifted out of the shaft screaming. A sweeping line of rescue workers with ‘hard hats’ draw the eye around the frame. All the heads are bowed down towards the female and she is punctuating the image with her face lifted.

Image 4   is of the same lady, now on a stretcher, being carried out above heads of the same workers. The eye is first drawn to the tension on the face of somebody attempting to hold oxygen mask on the ladies face..

The 5th image tells us the above lady was lucky. Three pairs of lifeless ‘laid out’ legs protrude out from the bottom of a canvas on a dusty floor. The feet, without shoes, were a few hours before  walking around the shop floor. Again the composition is simple but solid and infers that death has occurred.

Image 6 is a simple side on head portrait of a lady with her eyes closed and tears streaming down her face.

Image 7 is a wonderfully powerful example of juxtaposition. A filthy wall holds posters of missing workers “Why God?!? Why???” is scribbled on the wall. The lower half of the frame shows a distraught woman barely able to stand walking through the frame clutching close to her chest the poster of her missing member of family.

Image 8 completes the set and two ladies lie on neighbouring stretchers reaching out and holding hands. Again there is a clear use of diagonals criss crossing the frame to enhance the sense of the scene being unsettling.

Conclusion:

The test for me is this. If I couldn’t read, could I look at this set and understand what had happened, where it had happened, the train of events and the human suffering? And then, would the calibre of the photography convey the urgency and suffering that had taken place.

Here the answer is quite clearly yes. It’s a body of work I would be extremely proud to have produced.

Reference:

Unknown. (2014). See Me. British Journal of Photography. March (n/a), 29.

World Press Photo. (2014). Talukder, R. Available: http://www.worldpressphoto.org/people/rahul-talukder. Last accessed 30th April 2014.

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