Born 1955, Bangladesh. Lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in Chemistry at London University before focusing on Photography. Returning to his hometown Dhaka in 1984, he documented the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. President of the Bangladesh Photographic Society for three terms, Alam set up the award-winning Drik agency, Bangladesh Photographic Institute, Chobi Mela festival, Majority World agency and Pathshala, the South Asian Media Institute, one of the finest schools of photography in the world.
Alam’s work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Royal Albert Hall, London; Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Tehran. He has been a guest curator of the Whitechapel Gallery, London, Winterthur Gallery, Switzerland, National Art Gallery, Malaysia, Musee de Quai Branly, Paris, the Brussels Biennale and the Auckland Festival of Photography. His numerous awards include the Shilpakala Award, the highest state honour given to Bangladeshi artists. He was the 2018 recipient of the Lucie Foundation Award and will be presented with the ICP award in 2019. His show “Best Years of My Life” was the central exhibit at the Global Forum for Migration and Development in Berlin in 2017. His show “Embracing the Other” which challenges Islamophobia and Extremism was shown to international acclaim at the Bait Ur Rouf mosque in 2018. He was the international guest curator for the Auckland Festival in New Zealand in 2017.
A speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, as well as TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam has been a jury member in prestigious international contests, including Prix Pictet and World Press Photo, which he chaired. Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, Alam is a visiting professor of Sunderland University in the UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society and Eugene Smith Fund.
His book “My journey as a witness”, listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo, has been described by John Morris as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.” “Birth Pangs of a Nation” edited by Alam, was voted the best book of 2012 at Asian Publishing Convention. His show “Kalpana’s Warriors”, was voted “Best Exhibition” at Dali Festival in China in 2015 and was the central exhibit at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2016 in Malta. Time Magazine named Alam and several other journalists as their “Person of the Year 2018”.
A new media pioneer, Alam introduced email to Bangladesh in the early nineties.