All images by Ashraful Arefin. Used with permission.
“And that made me realize that I don’t actually need to find the most beautiful things to create something beautiful.” says photographer Ashraful Arefin about how he seriously started to get involved with photography.
Ashraful is a Fine Art photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. “I was always very much interested in drawing and painting and wanted to be an artist from the childhood.” he tells the Phoblographer. Initially for him, photography was just about documenting the work he did–just like it is for many artists. It kind of makes sense; I mean, take a look at his Behance profile.
He started experimenting with a little 50mm f1.8 lens until one day he decided to photograph little toy vehicles. The loved the images, and started to do more. The photos evoke a sense of nostalgia that many grown adults are bound to experience.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Ashraful: I got my camera when I was a second year student of Fine Arts, I bought it to take high-res photos of my artworks. I used to take some snaps but wasn’t very serious about it. I was literally photographically born in 2013, when I bought my 50mm lens and started doing a 365 project.
First it was just a hobby and something for fun, but eventually I found my true passion for this art form. I’ve never had so much fun with any other media, and also I got such positive feedbacks from people on the internet, which inspired me a lot to take this more seriously.
Phoblographer: Your work is very mixed: it has surreal imagery, miniatures, and a lot of ethereal looks. So what made you want to do this type of work? What influenced you and continues to influence you?
Ashraful: Well there’s a little story behind this. I used to be very self-critical about my works and I was always looking for the perfect subject to work on. I had this wrong idea that to create something extra-ordinary I have to find the proper subject, background etc which was really frustrating. But when I started photography I did it without any expectations and without thinking about finding perfection. And that made me realize that I don’t actually need to find the most beautiful things to create something beautiful.
Photography totally opened my heart and eyes to see that even the simplest thing can look gorgeous with a slightly different perspective. That was the first inspiration. I just try to make people and mostly myself believe that I can always create something beautiful and dreamy from the little simple objects which are available around me. And what inspires me most is that I’m not limited by things or gears, I can always use my imagination and vision to create what I want to create. That keeps me going and hope I can convey this message to others who are suffering the same creative block like I did.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about your use of colors. You tend to keep the palette simple. Is there a reason for this?
Ashraful: Yes, for me colours are one of the most important part of an image. When I was a Fine Art student I had to study the colours and I love the fact that how colours affect human minds. So I try to use those colours which can evoke the emotions I’m trying to achieve through my photos. And since my subjects are very simple, I try to use a simple colour palette to compliment them. Another reason for using simple and repeated colour palette is to maintain the relation between different series. So that even though I’m shooting different subjects, they all represent that cohesive look to make it believe that they are created by the same artist.
Phoblographer: So where did the idea for the miniatures come from?
Ashraful: I used to see beautiful photographs on the internet and think that I’ll never be able to create something like these because I don’t have the kind of locations, or the models etc. Then one day I saw some miniature photos with dolls and model toys in Flickr, and I thought why not create the scenes which I have on my mind in a mini scale. And this whole miniature car project is all about my childhood memories and those nostalgic moments.
I used to play with little toy cars when I was a little boy and I saw some of these toy cars, it immediately took me back to those childhood days. It was really wonderful to see how a little toy car could evoke such nostalgia and memories. So I wanted to portray that feeling and tried to create a visual story through them by adding atmosphere and colours.
Phoblographer: How were these done? Tilt shift? Macro?
Ashraful: These photos were taken with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. No Tilt shift or macro, I just took these photos from the miniature’s level so it gives the impression of a real-life size.
Phoblographer: Lots of photographers who create art also try to express themselves; so what are you trying to get across with this series?
Ashraful: My motivation and inspiration has been always, appreciation of simplicity in our lives. I tend to find simple little things and try to turn them into something special and emotive. I believe that it’s the little things that make living so beautiful. In every single thing there is a sense of human presence,emotions and stories…something invisible but very clear. And for this series it’s about reminiscing those childhood memories. I hope the way these little cars took me way back to my childhood days, these photos will do the same for the viewers and make them feel charm of those good old days. I just wish to make people feel happy, positive and appreciate the beauty of simple things.