Little creatures can stir big feelings. By capturing snapshots of bunnies, this is what Ashraful Arefin strives to do. “I have been very much inspired by the simple little beautiful things in our lives and I try to portray my appreciations for the little things through my works.”
With their cute and calm personalities, bunnies are the perfect models to garner a heart-warming shot. “Bunnies do all those little things like wiggling their noses, happy blinks… everything is just so adorable. My favourite thing about capturing bunnies is that I never feel bored because there will always be something new, something funny and something cute to come up with.”
One of Arefin’s most memorable shoots was when he captured his new born baby bunnies. Documenting the bunnies in their everyday lives, Arefin experienced something very unique: “I felt like I didn’t only take photos, but like [I was] capturing those sweet moments of a new life growing!” His favourite bunny image is titled “Thank you lord” and captures his little bunny softly grooming herself.
Baby bunny grooming herself in the sunlight - Nikon D5000, ISO100, f/1.8, 1/640 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
New born baby bunny sleeping in man's hand - Nikon D5000, ISO100, f/2.2, 1/200 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
Baby bunny fitting in man's hand - Nikon D5000, ISO100, f/1.8, 1/200 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
The 29-year-old photographer from Dhaka, Bangladesh, has always been drawn by creativity, and a childhood dream of his was to be an artist. With a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Dhaka, Arefin got involved in photography in 2013 when he started working on a daily photo journal. “I was literally photographically born in 2013 when I got my AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G and started doing my 365 day project.”
Arefin describes his style of photography as ‘whimsical with a touch of dreamy feel’, but not without elements of real life. In order to create the fairy-tale look, Arefin loves to play with a soft, glowing backlight. Lighting is key in his photographs and if it is too harsh, it spoils the magical feel. In order to avoid shooting in high contrast situations, Arefin works either early morning or late afternoon to capture the softer light. Working from his apartment balcony, he is able to utilise natural sunlight. In cases where Arefin does not shoot with natural light, he uses a big soft box with his SB-910 Speedlight and a silver reflector.
When Arefin shoots, his first thought is how the shape of the subject affects the composition of the photo. Often there is only one focused subject in order to keep the composition simple yet eye-catching. “Too many subjects can create distraction and take the eyes away from my main subject.” By using both natural and man-made objects, Arefin always tries to create ties between nature and human creation.
Another passion of his is cinemagraphs. The process is not too complicated, only involving a few steps to make a big impact.
“The first step is to plan and select which part of the image should be moving. Second step is to switch into video or movie mode in your camera to capture some movements. The final step is to create a still frame from that video, place it on top of the video as a layer, and mask out or remove the parts of the image where you want the movement to be visible.” Arefin also recommends using a tripod to avoid shaking and to keep the movement smooth.
Baby bunny in a cup looking at a butterfly - Nikon D5000, ISO100, f/2.8, 1/200 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
Baby bunny and flying butterfly - Nikon D5000, ISO100, f/1.8, 1/250 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
One of the major challenges that Arefin faces during his shoots is getting a nice and clean background. This is because of all the buildings in Dhaka, it is hard for him to find something with a more natural feeling to it. Another challenge is the lighting conditions, “The kind of natural light I like to use tends to stay for a very short period of time. So I need to pre-plan my composition and process to be able to take my photo within that timeframe.”
Unfortunately, when Arefin first started his photography career, he was sad to be met with some discouragement. He recalls a friend telling him that it was silly to spend money on an old toy car for a photo. It was only a couple of months later; Arefin was contacted by a designer from HarperCollins’s who wanted to use his miniature photos. The only request was for the subject to be an old looking American car. “Guess what? The toy car I got was just perfect for it! I used it and the photo got approved and published last year. This experience really made me feel that it’s worth listening to your heart and believing in yourself.”
With his work, Arefin hopes to make people feel happy and realize the beauty in simple things. “I believe that it's the little things that make living so beautiful and I hope to make my viewers believe the same.” The innocence of his bunnies will not only warm the hearts of all but also provide adorable comfort to bring smiles.
Ashraful Arefin was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1987. After his graduation in 2014, he decided to make a career in photography. Currently based in Dhaka, Arefin has turned his passion for photography into a full time job capturing the little thing that makes living beautiful.