The Story of Ajay Lalbeharie
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November 2020
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The Story of Ajay Lalbeharie

Ajay-Lalbeharie Photography Self-Portrait

I was born in 1975, in a home filled with love. My mum is a housewife, with a heart of gold and the person who encouraged me to follow my artistic side. To this day she’s still my biggest supporter, and has allowed me to create my art unhindered and without judgement. My dad passed on when I was six months old and I don’t have any memories of him, except those told to me by people who knew him and also through the photographs that exist of him. He was a teacher and avid sportsman, in fact both my mum and him were, and that’s where my siblings and I inherited our love for sport. I have two elder siblings, my brother who’s ten years older than me and who’s a Vice-Principal at a local school and one of the best maths teachers I’ve ever come across. My sister who is eight years older than me works in quality assurance for a college and is very well educated and bright, yup she’s got the lions share of brains in the family. She’s highly regarded and very professional. She has also been a big supporter of my artistic ability and one of my best friends. The largest percentage of my tuition and lodging during study was paid for by her, it’s something I will always be grateful to her for.

I was born in Pietermaritzburg and have lived most of my life in Newcastle, KZN. I did not grow up in a rich family and life was hard, especially for my mum who brought us up single handedly. Somehow she made sure that we lived well, got educated, and were always loved. She’s been the rock of our family and the matriarch that guides as to always do things the right way.

My love for the arts started young. I can still remember my mum teaching me how to colour; my creativity and love for beautiful things comes from her. I did however only really begin getting involved in art in standard nine. I originally wanted to get involved earlier, but the art teacher at the time would not give me a chance. I can still remember him saying that if I ever passed art he would eat his hat, boy do I have a nice big sombrero waiting for him.

I finally got into it because I wanted to get out of the class I was in. The following year we got a new art teacher, and art along with woodwork was the only combination available. I took it, never knowing at the time, what a big impact it would have on my life and career choices, it’s sometimes funny how the choices we make, mould who we become.

I went on to study graphic design at Tshwane University of Technology, and it still forms a big part of my career. It’s were I started my first business and for those looking for the services of a qualified graphic designer, consider me, you can find my portfolio at www.studio-on-53.co.za . It was during this time of study that I fell in love with photography. My old high school had loaned me an old slr camera, and photography was one of my subjects, This was still during photography’s analogue days, where we would shoot rolls of film and process it by ourselves in the darkroom. There’s something magical about watching a blank piece of paper, come to life with a photo you took, in the darkroom.

I took up photography again a few years later when I saw a gap in the market for commercial photography. At that time, my graphic design clients were outsourcing photographic work to the bigger cities of Durban and Johannesburg. I saved up my money bought a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens first, even before I had a camera body. A year later I bought a Canon 350D and my photography career was born. I first photographed in natural light that I modified in various ways, all the time spending vast amounts of my nights devoted to learning the art of photography. A short while later I sold my shares and with some money I had saved, I bought my first set of studio flashes. These Elinchrom D-Light 4’s continue to serve me very well.

To this day I still spend vast amounts of my time learning and improving, it’s something I never get tired of doing.

Thanks to my family and all the unexpected twists and turns life’s journey takes you upon, I am now in the proud position of being able to call what I love doing, my career.

Ajay Lalbeharie Up