Ismail Ferdous: Sea Beach

Leica Gallery Paris is proud to present an exhibition by Ismail Ferdous, the recipient of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023.
This exhibition marks a return to his origins for the Bangladeshi-born photographer, who offers a quirky, humorous, and contemporary perspective on Cox’s Bazar, a well-loved beach in Bangladesh.

“Sea Beach” is woven from the fabric of the author’s childhood memories. His first visit to Cox’s Bazar came as a boy, during his parents’ first holiday together. He remembers his grandmother’s warning: “Don’t go too deep into the water, because you can’t swim,” contrasted with his mother’s encouragement to play in the waves, her sari flowing in the wind. It was only when he got older that he finally ventured into the water to swim.
Growing up in Dhaka, he often visited this beach, initially with his family and then with his friends. From his early childhood days playing in the sand to the independence of adolescence and now as an adult, this beach on the Bay of Bengal has been a constant in his life. In his early twenties, his curiosity led him to cross oceans and eventually settle in New York. Over the past decade he has traveled extensively, capturing images of human migration, natural and man-made disasters and conflicts. During his travels, he was attracted by the culture of the coasts. In 2017 he returned to Cox’s Bazar, which has become a refuge for over a million Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Over the course of four years, he documented this significant human shift.
The beach, just over the hills from the refugee camps, beckoned him once again in early 2020. With a perspective shaped by his travels, returning to Cox’s Bazar was like stepping back into a vividly remembered past, now seen through the lens of time and distance.
Cox’s Bazar is a microcosm of Bangladesh, where people from different regions, dialects, religions and social backgrounds converge. Ordinary life here is highlighted by the sunlight dancing on the sea, reflecting the diverse Bengali and indigenous cultural heritage.
Marine Drive features dense forests to the east, lush hills, and finally, wide sandy beaches to the west. The Angel Drop lookout, now replaced by large sandbags against rising tides, and the highway descending to Dolphin Circle, where daily life continues, evoke a sense of timeless continuity. The air fills with the scent of saltiness and the warmth of familiarity.
His outward journey led him inward, making him more deeply appreciate where he came from. “Sea Beach” is a touchstone and a portal, with the waves symbolizing the endless cycles of departure and return, just like every coast on Earth. Here it encounters a common crossroads between vastness and intimacy.

A portrait of Ismail Ferdous

About the Author

Born in 1989, Ismail Ferdous is a Bangladeshi photographer and videomaker currently based in New York, USA. He has been a member of Agence VU’ since 2021.
Ferdous discovered his passion for photography while studying business at East West University in Dhaka. He is dedicated to documenting social and humanitarian issues around the world through his visual work. The 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, one of the deadliest industrial disasters in Bangladesh’s history, which claimed over 1,100 lives, propelled Ferdous to highlight the harmful impacts of the “fast fashion” industry on the Bangladeshi population with his projects “The Cost of Fashion” and “After Rana Plaza.”
In addition to his personal documentary endeavors, Ferdous has worked with various NGOs, media, and press organizations to explore themes related to climate change, natural disasters, healthcare access, and refugee crises in regions such as the Middle East, Europe, and South Asia. In 2016, he relocated from Dhaka to New York, where he continues his work, including notable coverage of the end of Trump’s presidency.
Ferdous has received numerous accolades, including a World Press Photo award, two US National Photo Press Awards, the Manuel Ortiz Award for Documentary Photography, and a National Geographic Explorer Grant. In 2023, he won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. His work is frequently featured in international publications and has been exhibited globally at venues such as Photoville (NYC, USA), the United Nations Headquarters (Geneva), the Photolux Festival (Lucca, Italy), the Tokyo Photograph Art Museum (Japan), and the Rencontres d’Arles (France).


Ismail Ferdous: Sea Beach
27/06/2024 – 28/09/2024
Leica Gallery Paris – France

Hardcover: 156 pages
Publisher: Imageless Studio (2024)
Edition: 800 copies
Size: 7.87 x 11.02 inches

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