Beyond the urban lies an unexplored world of beauty

For Dr. Hafiz G. Tarafdar, seeing the world and keeping track of it has turned into an intellectual pursuit of his over the years. It manifests itself in the richness of the photographs he has taken in his many travels around the world – in Asia, Africa and Europe, in islands that many contemplate with the imagination but places where he has been – admiring the beauty of natural life.

June 17, 2022, 11:00

Last modified: June 17th, 2022, 11:09 am

The traveler’s fearlessness is what defines him. For Dr. Hafiz G. Tarafdar, seeing the world and keeping track of it has turned over the years into an intellectual pursuit of him. The record does not come in the form of a diary or through the pages of memoirs and not even in the form of a travel journal.

It manifests itself in the wealth of photographs he has taken in his many travels around the world – in Asia, Africa and Europe, in islands that many contemplate in the imagination but places where he has been – admiring the beauty of natural life.

Passion is part of his beautiful obsession with nature. Scroll through his albums, cheered by the knowledge that not even the smallest details escape him. The charm of life, in essence, is what transpires in the images that capture the multidimensional aspects of existence.

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How did this concern, so to speak, for photography begin for him? Tarafdar informs you, in a very modest way, that at school it was a hobby for him to draw pictures. He then graduated from college in Bangladesh with a degree in photography in 1960, when in his freshman year he started taking snapshots with his Kodak camera.

As he moved towards creating a niche in the orofacial profession, in 1968 in Mymensingh, his grip on the camera reached a steadfastness that would be pivotal in his later pursuit of photography as an art form.

Tarafdar has aged, like all of us, over the years and decades. Yet, unlike many of us, there is a spring in his step, a deep commitment to nature. He left Bangladesh in 1969 to land in the UK where he has lived and worked ever since, with little interruptions. He fondly remembers the Zenith camera he wielded in those early years in Britain. In the years 1971-72, with a Canon camera on his shoulder, he visited the places of the countryside, absorbing almost everything that nature had to offer him.

Birds, landscapes, trees, flowers have always had a devotional quality, so to speak, in the images he has drawn, and continues to draw, from nature. In fact, he makes nature come home to him.

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Of course, he had his responsibilities to perform professionally in Bangladesh, Britain and even Libya. But life for Tarafdar was one of the well-defined compartments for him. On the one hand, he had the medical tools available to him in his workplace; and on the other hand it was the camera, over the shoulder or over the shoulder, which brought him to lands of pristine beauty on the planet.

The themes treated by Tarafdar in his travels are surgically precise in form, embracing landscapes and cultural heritage almost everywhere. Since retiring from service, indeed from the practice of orofacial surgery under the British National Health Service, in 2012, his journeys into the realm of nature have been injected with renewed vigor. There is a variety of cultural expressions, of multicultural life, in his photographs. He observes the tribal portraits that are studded with his albums of him, from Africa. The beauty of dark skin, which he calls Black Beauty, binds the present to previous generations.

The effects of Tarafdar’s photography – capturing the pores in the skin of a single face, the glittering grains of sand in a desert, the colors on a sparrow’s wings – are a sign of the superior quality underlying his work. Her attention in her eyes speaks volumes about the emotions that define the twinkle in those eyes. And then the camera focuses on sitting birds, birds about to take flight, birds engaged in their various forms of natural activity. In an age of development in the guise of modernization, Tarafdar’s camera reminds people that beyond the urban lies a pristine, almost unexplored world of beauty.

Tarfadar’s most recent trip was to Ghana. As we speak, she is hiking through Iceland exploring the fragrant charm of her he landscape. For him, the world has always been a world of incessant discovery, an oyster that continues to open layer by layer. His camera captured an image of a Bengali peasant woman, in the company of her precious goat, as she made her way home through a clearly open field where the soil hardened in a rainless season. And then there are the contrasts, especially his images of skyscrapers in Canary Wharf in London.

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And Tarafdar speaks to you, with a voice that betrays the affection born of love, of the play of light and shadow with which he has invested the images of his bride. Want to see the rebellious charm of the mighty Jamuna? Tarafdar will open his album for you. There, as you turn the pages, there are vivid images of fishermen casting their nets in the river. In Borneo, they are the gypsies he befriends while he grants them stay through his portraits of them.

Tarafdar has traveled to no less than fifty countries around the world. His travels through the Namib Desert, through Ethiopia are nothing but an odyssey of civilization through heritage. The Kalahari comes to life in his camera, with no missing details. His travels through Angola reveal a land blessed with the bounty of creation. His conversations with the Masai are a sign of the commitment he brings to understanding and respecting cultures around the world.

Hafiz G. Tarafdar’s photography possesses that certain world-class quality, which is certainly the reason for the recognition, in the form of prizes, which have been awarded to him by various organizations.

A conversation with this tireless traveler – who went to school in Bogra, studied at Murari Chand College and then continued his studies at Dhaka Medical College Hospital – is a delightful journey through geography and the eons of global cultural history.

As the sun sets and the first stars begin to shine in the sky, you sit down to listen to Hafiz G. Tarafdar reflect, softly and deeply, on the glorious richness that permeates our world.