Prito Reza: A man of struggle and success
Struggle and success is synonymous when passion connects the both. And Prito Reza is the synonym of both the binary words --- struggle and success who never thought of being a wedding photographer while growing up. "My sister used to love wearing saree and I used to take photos in our childhood. I never think of taking pictures professionally but my childhood's unaware love became my passion later on," Reza said.
While studying in college photography attracted Reza. He was unable to get photography out of his mind. Sign board of "Chanchal Chowdhury Photography" one way motivated him more. But buying a film camera was a challenge for him during that time because of financial reasons. "I used to get sad thinking that I couldn't arrange the money needed for the camera in my college days. I consoled myself thinking one day I'll..."
In 2003 "Learn photography at only 500 taka," ad of Dhaka Photographic Institute changed his life. "It's okay if you don't have a camera" said by the lady from the other side of the phone was one of the sweetest sounds Reza has heard ever in his life. "I'll be indebted to Badal Bhai for lifetime for giving the scope of learning photography without a camera."
Reza has started taking photos as "Per photo 20 taka." Thus he became a professional photographer by a fourth hand DSLR which he bought accumulating his savings, sister's scholarship money, money from his father with a signed contract of performing 5 waqt namaz and some loan from friends in 2004. Before learning photography properly, Reza used to take portraits of students during occasions in the Dhaka University campus.
"At the end of 2004 or in the beginning of 2005 a student from Rokeya Hall approached me and said that she liked my photo (that 4R photo for 20 taka) and she asked if I would take photos at her wedding. I said yes without a second thought. I told her that per roll it would be 600 taka and we agreed to a minimum of 2 rolls." That was Reza's first wedding photo shoot.
Reza's experience of working in Japan Colour Lab and meeting renowned wedding photographers there was a subconscious motivator to his eagerness towards wedding photography.
Though, in reality Reza's passion was to be a photo journalist. To follow his dream, he contributed in the newspaper --- 'Ajker Kagoj', 'Bhorer Kagoj' and in the magazines --- 'Shongbad', 'Star Campus' of 'The Daily Star' and 'Anondo Alo'. "I started working as a photojournalist in 'The Daily Ittefaq' later on. I used to work for the magazine by day, learning photography at 'Pathshala' by night. After working for a short time in 'Drik News' I joined 'New Age' and worked there as a photojournalist for two years.
Alongside working in newspapers, he continued wedding photography as well. That was only for money. "Working in newspaper is prestigious but the income wasn't sufficient to run my family", Reza said with a sigh. But in this way Reza realized that he is very fond of taking photos of people smiling, bride and groom, and celebration; capturing the most important moments of a person's life was a great feeling to him.
"I never wanted to be a wedding photographer really. But along with good income the warmth of the love between brides and grooms would enchant me. At that very time I realized a harsh truth I was being socially neglected."
"In a newspaper office I was called out due to an absurd reason, they said, "What I do (wedding photography) doesn't go with the image of a photojournalist working in a newspaper." Many times I heard, "You are good a photographer but why do you do wedding photography? Many of my classmates in 'Pathshala' used to laugh at me. Initially I used to get hurt by this but slowly I realized there is no better work in world but your loved one."
He didn't have support neither from family nor friends. Since he was a student of Economics, his parents urged him to go for BCS.
"It got to the stage of obsession. If I had taken the smooth road already paved by someone else, my career wouldn't have been so challenging and exciting, and because I walked on this untouched path, the joy or victory was also monumental."
In this process of becoming a wedding photographer Reza left the job of newspapers and started working harder. He arranged the first wedding photography exhibition under the banner of his organization, 'Wedding Diary'. "I didn't get any sponsor, yet I got the permission to hold the exhibition in Drik Gallery, along with this I got Tarek Masud (late) by my side. I can't explain how lucky I felt that day!"
In 2013 Reza got the prize of 'Young Icon 2012' from 'New Age'. In 2013 for the first time in Bangladesh, as a photographer be became the ambassador of Fuji Film. In the same year he started hosting the first TV show related to photography named "Darkroom" aired in the private TV channel 'ATN News'. Then in 2014, he got a fellowship by US State Department as a wedding photographer and an entrepreneur.
Reza thinks it's the time to make the path smoother for the next generation. "I didn't start wedding photography as a hobby; my path was filled with thorns. From this thought I started Wedding and Portrait Photographers of Bangladesh (WPPB) association."
To encourage today's youth he says, "No path is hard to achieve if one has passion. But no height of passion is enough if you lack hard work."