Andrew Biraj

Andrew Biraj

Based
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Born
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 1D Mark IV
“When I take pictures, I always try to imagine them on the front of the next day’s top international newspapers.”

Beat

I cover general news, breaking news, cricket, daily life and contemporary issues.

One Shot

. DHAKA, Bangladesh. REUTERS/Andrew Biraj
A woman sits between carriages on a train travelling to Mymensing from Dhaka. She is among the millions of people who travel home from the capital city to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.
“I took this image of a woman sitting between two carriages of a train as she was travelling to Mymensing ahead of the Muslim religious festival Ei al-Fitr. When I first saw the scene, I was so amazed and frightened. I took the train to experience the hectic and crowded journey as millions of people were leaving the city ahead of the long holiday.”

Profile

I used to wonder around the busy streets of Dhaka and I tried to make interesting pictures with my small Canon camera and a limited amount of film. Photography was very expensive for me. I remember the pleasure of overnight film processing in the darkroom, and looking at the images I had captured inspired me to take more.

I learnt the basics of photography by playing with my cousin’s SLR camera. I later got myself admitted to Pathshala South Asian Media Academy and completed an advanced diploma in photography, and then did a bachelor’s degree in photography at the University of Bolton, in the United Kingdom.

For my first assignment I was covering a protest against an open-pit coal mine project by a foreign company in Phullbari, the northern district of Bangladesh. Thousands of villagers, especially women, came out onto the street with their children and chanted slogans. The protest became violent, as police fired rubber bullets at the protestors. I spent a whole week sleeping under the open sky and I covered the whole incident. It was one of the biggest experiences for me in my early career.

I covered Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections in Kabul in 2010. It was a completely new experience for me - I had always dreamed of going there.

News stories involving conflict and action excite me most. I also like to work on stories that have more depth, where I have the opportunity to dig deeper.

When I take pictures, I always try to imagine them on the front of the next day’s top international newspapers and news blogs. I always target the audience that follows day-to-day top news, but that is also keen to get a deeper perspective on it through images.

My biggest lesson has been to always respect people. If I respect people, I will get respect back from them.

I respect the people I photograph most of all. They have given me the opportunity to access their lives, they give me respect, hospitality and, in some cases, they have also provided safety.

Behind the Scenes

. KABUL, AFGHANISTAN. Fayaz Kabli
Andrew Biraj takes pictures while covering the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.
. DHAKA, BANGLADESH. Stringer
Andrew Biraj falls to the ground as police with battons charge on a rally of Bangladesh's Nationalist Party, in Dhaka.