Bursary Students 2022

(Jan 2023 update)

Since Sam’s death in 2010, the fund has helped to support a total of 40 low income students studying photo journalism at Pathshala South Asia Media Institute in Dhaka. We receive regular updates on their progress along with photography project, work from the institute. To give just a few recent examples of achievements (too many to mention here, after 12 years of student support):

Sumi Khatun – (Anjuman)

Shortlisted for 2020 Women Photographers Grant by PHmuseum.

2020 selected as Ones to Watch by the British Journal of Photography, and one of the Top Photgraphy Graduates to Watch at PHmuseum.

Paris Photo digital masterclass 2022 (one of 4 new talents)

Interviewed on Artists Talks Carte Blanche Etudients 2022 by the director of Picto Foundation and Paris Photo , Vincent Marcilhay

2021 She was selected to show in The Makeable Mind, at the Noorderlicht International Photo Festival.

Soumya Sanker Bose – has gone on to be awarded the prestigious Magnum Foundation and Henry Luce Foundation’s Migration and Religion grant along with a run of exhibitions in New York, Texas, Kathmandu , Kolkatar and Nepal.

Homayra Adiba was a recipient of ‘Equity Grant Winner’ Art prize 2021.

Md. Fazla Rabbi was selected as the British Journal of Photography Ones to Watch 2021 and also awarded a Creation Grant at the Anghor Photo Festival.

Arafat Bin Siraji has been selected to show next year at the 8th Lumix Festival of Visual Journalism for young photographers.

(photo Mrittika Gain)

(photo Mrittika Gain)

Many of our students have documented the plight of marginalised communities in Bangladesh and around the world. Walid Saddam documented the Rohingya refugee crisis, Abhijit Shuvo photographed the forgotten veterans of the Bangladesh War of Independence, Shadman Chowdhury has photographed the indigenous Santal community who are being evicted from their farm land and homes by the Bangladesh government and sugar mill authorities, Istiak Karim was funded by the Australian government to take part in ‘the politics of aid’ project where he documented the impact and effectiveness of aid on a village in Jhor district of Nepal.

Mrittaker Gain focused on Kalabogi village in Khulna district. Through her images she tells the story of the relationship between the people here, especially women, with the changing environment. Jhulantapara, on the banks of Shibsa, is constantly being submerged under extreme tidal conditions.

Tanjimul Islam has documented the industrial causes of high air and river pollution in Dhaka

These are just a few examples of the brave and bold photo-journalism emerging from Pathshala with the support of the Sam Banks Fund.

(photo Tanjimul Islam)

Students 2020/21

(from our last year’s update)

We recently paid this year’s £5,500 to Pathshala and have heard back from them that in the coming year this will support seven students: one with a full year’s bursary and six with half year bursaries.  They wrote: ‘This time we had received a larger number of applicants than usual as due to the pandemic many of our students are going through financial struggles. Considering the ongoing situation, we have decided to split the bursary into seven students instead of just four students like before as it will provide the support to continue their studies.’

We will be posting examples of the newly selected 2022 students’ photography shortly.

we are delighted to hear that Pathshala founder, Shahidul Alam, received the CPJ 2020 International Press Freedom Award this year. This was alongside other journalists (from Iran, Nigeria and Russia) who have been arrested or faced criminal prosecution in reprisal for their reporting. At this event human rights lawyer Amal Clooney also received an award.

Pathshala continues to strive in its aim of reaching the day when ‘the disenfranchised and misrepresented can tell their own stories.


We were delighted to hear that Sumi Anjuman (a recent graduate) is a finalist in this year’s 2020 Alexia Grant competition (student grant category) with her photos from her project called ‘Somewhere Else Than Here’.  She was also selected for the 2020 Fritt Ord student grant for her project ‘It’s Been a While’, documenting and portraying the older population in Nepal.

‘Sumi Anjuman was raised in the northern region of Bangladesh. As a woman in an Islamic conservative society, she experiences the kind of oppression and agony, which her work tackles forthrightly.  Despite her socially-focused subject-matter, her work is not straightforward-documentary, rather it feels more poetic, often verging on the abstract. Her collaborative methodology echoes the ideas of inclusivity while her photographs often invite the audience to be curious about what they see. As a result, they make a strong cerebral as well as the emotional impact on the observer.’  (Sumi’s website, quoted on Pathshala’s Facebook page)

Sounak Das was shortlisted this year for the Samdani Art Award, one of the most significant awards for young contemporary artists in Bangladesh.  This entailed a commission of new work, an exhibition as part of the recently concluded Dhaka art summit, and mentorship from the renowned curator Philippe Pirotte.  

 Sounak’s work was also featured by the Guardian in September last year.

  • Walid Saddam Topu exhibited his collaborative archival project on the Rohingya refugee crisis, developed together with German photographer Francois X Klein at the Chobi Mela festival of photography in Dhaka last year, and subsequently at the Dok festival of documentary photography in Norway.
  • Homayra Adiba had an eight page feature in the April edition of Better Photography in India.  Her work featured, with interviews, in the July edition of the French online magazine L’intimiste, the August edition of the Italian magazine Internazionale and on lensculture.com.  A new body of work, called ‘Where do you go to, my lovely?’ has been selected for the Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia.  This will now be shown online from 5 December.

2019 students

We are continuing to support the students that were selected last year and have new work by them to show (see below).
The Memorial Fund is also providing travel money for Nayem Siddiki who has won a place to attend the VII Foundation Grant Burma workshop.
Latest work by current students in order as they appear: Mohammad Hasan Zobayer (1,2 3), Istiak Karim (4,5,6,) Md. Omar Faruque (7,8,9,) Sounak Das (10,11,12,).
Mohammad Hasan Zobayer


Mohammad Hasan Zobayer
Istiak Karim4
Itsiak Karim
Istiak Karim6
Itsiak Karim
Istiak Karim5
Itsiak Karim
Omar Faraque 2
Omar Faraque
Omar Faraque 7
Omar Faraque
Omar Faraque 9
Omar Faraque
Sounak Das 7
Sounak Das
Sounak Das 1
Sounak Das



This year’s Sam Banks Scholarship [2018] students have been selected based on merits, portfolio, academic records and financial status.
The selected students are:
  1. Mohammad Hasan Zobayer [3rd Year-1st Semester]
  2. Sounak Das [3rd Year-1st Semester]
  3. Md. Omar Faruque [2nd Year-1st Semester]
  4. Istiak Karim [2nd Year-1st Semester]

Mohammad Hasan Zobayer

Sounak Das


Md. Omar Faruque


Ishtiak Karim 



Noor Jahan Nizamy Prova
Nayem Siddiki
Mushfiqur Rahman
Mushfiq Mahbub
Arafat Siraji

Noor Jahan Nizamy Prova
“Most of my childhood has been passed in old town. My paternal uncles and aunts used to live in this area. The house where I used to live was a Hindu villa. There is a small closet with two small windows for worship located in the corner of this house. I used to see through the course of life by sitting beside the windows all day long. This house used to give me divine feeling across my body and soul.

My realization about old town had got its full degree according to the story written by Akhtaruzzaman  Elias, a famous writer in Bengali literacy. The picturesque of old town appears into my mind while I click a photo on Dhaka city.

It seems like deja vu while I came to old town pursuant to take a photograph after a long hiatus. Gradually I get acquainted with the locals. There was a different feeling of indulging old buildings, soothing affection and loving attachment with the inhabitants that overweighed the necessity of taking photos. Unknowingly, I have fallen in unseen attachment with the ambiance.

At times, a very known place becomes unfamiliar in course of time. There was a time when I used to hear “ULU DHONI”, a holy sound produced by follower of Hindu religion, that used to waft from the next door during the time of Magrib Azan, a holy invitation for pray in Muslim religion. And the smell of incense bar in evening still reminds me those days. In Eid or Roja , all sorts of special food used to send to the Hindu families. In reverse, Proshad, holy food as per Hindu religion, used to send to the Muslim families. Now there is a smothering hatred among the two different religious communities. Does it mean the nexus of souls are in threatened state only because of the barrier of religion?”

Nayem Siddiki

Mushfiqur Rahman
“I have found myself at the mercy of psychological disorders until I learned the trick of taming them through photography. I have realized that I needed to embrace my challenges and harness the excruciating energy of my mental state towards forming something productive; thus with every photograph I capture, I perpetuate my sanity.”

Arafat Siraji
“This is a story about outskirt of Dhaka city. In this work I tried to describe the architecture of human landscape, which reflects the control, power and influence by and over human beings.”

We will again be giving an additional £500 as a grant for a project developing narrative/story-telling work in photography.


We are very happy to announce that the following students have been selected to receive bursaries for 2016 from the Sam Banks Memorial Fund: Ankur Arora, Moloy Ranjan Biswas, Pranabesh Das, Shahariare Khan Shihab and Walid Saddam. Two are students  have continued to need the financial support for consecutive years.

We were also pleased to hear that some of last year’s bursary students were selected to show work at the 6th Dali Photo Festival China.

Here are some examples of their work and a brief explanation of their themes.

Ankur Arora

Once a popular way to commute, horse-carts in Dhaka are on a decline owing to alternate means and high expenses, making survival difficult for the horsemen.

This series of staged photographs show horsemen and their families in front of a backdrop to stand them out, while in the midst of their surroundings.


Moloy Ranjan Biswas

Homecoming Fathers

My story is about how fathers return home at night from outside doing their everyday work. In male dominated society like ours, most of the fathers used to engage themselves in physical labour outside home for earning a living. So after doing all kinds of physical effort for earning a living, fathers used to come back home their families at night. My story “Homecoming Fathers” portrays different types of fathers (based on their economic condition) and how they return home from their work in everyday life. 

“Homecoming Fathers” is not only the story of different types of fathers and how they come back home to their families from everyday work but it also portrays the stories of those families and their efforts to fulfill their dreams.

Freelance Photographer
Freelance Photographer
Freelance Photographer
Freelance Photographer

Pranabesh Das

Sunamganj is a district in Bangladesh that is surrounded by extensive marshlands we call Haors. The lives and livelihood of the people of this region centers around these Haors. The biggest supply of rice in the granary of the country comes from this region: a region that is 2500 square miles wide. A melancholic tale emerges as we dig deep into the seemingly beautiful sights. My story is about this Haor, the habitation, and its people. A whole habitation, that changes as soon as the water from the rains enters it. 


Shahariare Khan

Drunk Man Walking to Speak

This body of work is based on one of my written poems.



Walid Saddam

Wallid has continued to photograph those living on the streets in Dhaka – recent work is based on a poem

 Black Cuckoo’s Song


Please see some of the student’ current work on the Bursary Students’ Photography

We are delighted to announce that three of the 2015/16 bursary students were selected to show work at the 6th Dali Photo Festival China.

Here are some examples of Walid Saddam’s portrayals of characters on Dhaka’s streets.


These are the names of the 5 students who were awarded bursaries for the academic year October 2014 – 2015

Homayra Adiba,

Walid Saddam

Md. Shamsul Arifin

Md. Minhaz Ali

Pranabesh Das


In addition to presenting £5,000 to Pathshala for bursaries last year, we gave an additional £500 as a grant for a project developing narrative/story-telling work in photography.

Exhibition of Pathshala students’ work in the Sam Banks Pavilion, Bedales School, July 2015

VISITING PATHSHALA: The Bedales School Link

IMG_20141122_152134 (1)

Max Aaronson, a friend of Sam’s and fellow Bedales pupil visited Pathshala Media Academy last year.  He was in Dhaka working for the Grameen Bank (a micro finance organisation).

While visiting the college he met the students supported by the Sam Banks Memorial Fund and saw their portfolios of photography. This is from the email he sent us.

“Happy to inform you that I visited Pathshala today. I had a tour of the institute by Topu, one of the tutors/photographers. The facilities are very nice and atmosphere friendly and welcoming. Speaking with some of the students and staff, it is easy to see they are all very pleased to be a part of the institute.

After the tour, Topu showed me some of the portfolio work that has been done by the scholars of Sam’s memorial fund and I had a chance to meet two of these scholars.  I was  impressed by the work as well as motivation of the students and staff I met.”

Next year (2015) some of the Banks family will be visiting Pathshala and meeting the bursary students.

Vincent Hasselbach OB is also currently in Dhaka staying at Pathshala Institute and working as an intern. See his blog and photos


Homayra Adiba
Rahul Kumar Das
Rapaz Jagadish Kisku
Tanvir Taolad
Salma Khatun

Please do look at the powerful photographic portfolios of the new students who have just been selected for the Sam Banks Bursary Fund in the Pathshala Students’ Photography Gallery page . All these students have shown dedication and considerable potential while on their course.

We were emailed the students’ letters of application to the selection body. Reading these we gained an insight into some of the challenging circumstances in which current students were struggling to continue their studies. One student, typically, is caring for both sick elderly parents while attending the course at Pathshala.  Despite these difficulties he is still determined to pursue a career in photography.

Salma, from Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh is the female student we have already been supporting through our bursary project.  She was the second Sam Banks student to be enrolled at the Academy.  Her photography captures the vibrancy and motion of rural life in her home village of Paherpur and was published by the UNICEF project ‘Do You See My World?’* in 2009.

Whilst studying photography at the academy she is also taking English language classes. The South Asian Media institute is intending to employ her in their rural video journalism network (http://driknews.com/site/rvjn) after the completion of her study at Pathshala to follow up and help build her career.

This is an excerpt from an email from Tanzim Wahab, Vice Principal of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute that we received at the beginning of the new year (8/01/2014):

“With your fund, we will be able to cover 5 students’ course fee for one year (2 semesters) without providing any equipment and other living costs.

12 current students of Pathshala applied for the scholarship and our Academic Council selected 4 students who are underprivileged and photographically and academically impressive.

During our selection, we also considered gender and minority community where you will see one female student (Homayra Adiba) and one indigenous from south (Rapaz Jagadish Kisku).  The good thing is all four of them have their cameras and also a place to stay in the city.”

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