Photographer based in London, UK
Adib Chowdhury, Portrait of the photographer
Tell us about yourself, what's your background?
I have a background in political sciences from the London School of Economics and this informs a lot of the research process behind my projects. The intersection of where research meets photographic narrative and geopolitics is where my work tends to focus. Flicking through a history textbook at 16 when studying the Vietnam War is when I realised that photography would be a suitable vehicle in which to explore my natural curiosity and what it means to be human. I've never looked back.
"I want the photos to convey a sense of journey and also that they belong to a time from far back but also today."
Sylhet, Bangladesh. 2022
What are you currently working on and where did the inspiration for it come from?
My latest project is a re-telling of the story of a Sufi saint from the 13th Century who travelled for years from Turkey, across the Middle East and settled in South Asia on a mission to spread Islam. The project is less about recounting his journey than an exploration into the stories we tell ourselves of what our destiny is. He was on the cusp of manhood when he left for his epic voyage. The inspiration came from the stories I was told about him as a child, and also the rich folklore that South Asian culture is steeped in. I want the photos to convey a sense of journey and also that they belong to a time from far back but also today.
On the road between two cities. Bangladesh 2022
Innovation does not only happen in the field of technology — it occurs everyday in a creative practice. What do you do for inspiration?
I like playing around with different cameras viewing them as tools that suit specific projects and not others. I love photographers who play with lighting and mixed media in creative ways. I've found myself experimenting more since covid years, but not as much I would like.
Describe your practice and process. Where do ideas start for you? In the studio or being in the world?
Being attuned to the world around me. It always starts with a topic I care about and that relates to me followed by research. If I can visualise it, I then pursue it.
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 2022
How do you make your work, does it start with a sketch?
I follow my curiosity and the first step I take is to see if I can justify pursuing it i.e. asking myself, 'Does it relate to me in some way? Can I justify telling this story rather than someone else? What is it I want to say?' If I can answer those, then down the rabbit hole of research, figuring out who to talk to, getting access, the boring but necessary administrative tasks etc. etc.
Do you have your own studio ritual? What does that look like for you?
I edit deep into the night until I get to that perfect space between being awake and asleep, put my phone in airplane mode and in a drawer and just focus. The National are a band that get me in the right mood for editing.
Sonargoan, Bangladesh. 2022
Who are your biggest influences?
Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Josef Koudelka.
Are there books or films that are an important source of inspiration?
A movie: 'Tree of Life', by Terrence Malick.
Sylhet, Bangladesh. 2022
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
What is the best advice you would give to other artists?
Find a way to fund yourself, trust yourself, listen to yourself and ignore the digital noise. Reach out to other creatives and not just those in the same medium as you. Remember that for every opinion there is a counter opinion.