Sunday 2020-11-01




By Nokwanda Sibandze | 2020-05-23

Ayanda has been in the arts industry for some time now and he describes it as learning experience.

Doing most things in the arts, he says he has always been in love with art. His love for the different skills that he has comes from his early childhood days.

Ayanda ‘Ayo’ Mkhabela, also known as “AyoCaptured” is a 22 year old portraiture and events photographer, and an illustration artist from Manzini. He is currently studying towards his B.Com degree in Business Admin in Marketing at UNESWA. He was born to a single mother, and raised in a blended family. Art was and is his first love, the rest follows.

“I recently started illustrations but I fell in love with drawing at a tender age. Growing up, I’d see my uncle paint as a side hustle, and I’d try to recreate his work in my sketchbook. I also practised by drawing cartoons from the local newspapers, such as Blondie and Hagar The Horrible. Capturing people’s moments in pictures was always a part of me, and I realised this in 2018 during a family gathering, and that’s when I challenged myself into being a photographer and bought my first camera in 2019.”

He describes photography as a form of expression.

“Photography and illustration is a form of expression. Some things cannot be put in words, so how better to say them than through a digital pen and the lens,” he said.

Every artist remembers their first work and for this young artist he started taking pictures in 2019 at a wedding.

“My first professional pictures were wedding pictures for the Simelanes in February 2019. I still did not clearly know my way around photography, but they took a chance on me, and what an amazing experience it was. Funny enough, my last professional pictures were also wedding pictures, for the Malazas.”

Having been in the industry for a year now, he says he already has favourites portraits and projects he has worked on.

“The number one moment has to be my first portraiture shoot back in March last year. I worked with a friend, Simphiwe Dlamini, who was my model. That shoot made people take note of my work, and it’s probably some of my best work to date. Others have to be concept shoots titled “Pieces of Me” and “TindzabaLetishisako”. These stand out from the rest because we were playing with fire and broken glass, literally, the blood rush!”

Because he is still a student, he says he has not taken the job on a full time basis yet.

“I am a part time photographer, as I am still studying. Although I am still new to the game, it has been a journey and a half. Some moments are great, especially when the money is coming in, and some not so great, like these times during the lockdown. It is worth noting though that the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise as it’s allowed me to polish up on my illustration skills,”

He is also in love with his toys and says he spent a lot of money to ensure that takes quality pictures of his clients.

“I started out using a Canon 4000D and I recently upgraded to a Canon 5D markII, and attached to it is a f1.8 50mm lens, and I do my drawings on Adobe Illustrator,”

Like many photographers, Ayo says the biggest problem he faces as a photographer was dealing with clients who do not want to pay.

“This is probably one of the major concerns most photographers have, customers who do not pay.”

He says it dampens their work and makes it hard for them to continue working with other people or the same clients again.

Ayo also has goals for his photographs. He says he has a number of photographers that he looks up and learns from on a daily basis but has one that he always hopes his work would reach his level.

“I want my pictures to tell stories like LexonArt. He is goals.”

He says even though he was studying something totally the opposite of what he loves, he does not imagine a day without photography.

“My life would be dull, I can’t imagine it without photography.” Even though he was still new in the industry, he says he has grown to love and cherish the arts for every reason possible.

Being new in the industry, Ayo says comes with a lot of growth. He says though he tries by all means to ensure he produces the best quality pictures.

He says when editing his pictures he takes note of every single detail to make the pictures look great.

“I try to minimise the amount of editing on Lightroom as much as I possibly can. Also, Mbulelo Ndlovu of Mbulelo Ndlovu has taught me a thing or two on how to play around with colours during editing. When drawing, I do my best to maintain all the details of the subject from the reference picture.”

Even though he has been in the industry for little over a year, he has managed to work some of the best models and photographers in the country. He says they have made his work easy and made him fall more in love with the craft.

“I have with a lot of people all over the country and some of my favourite people to work with include Beezae the Poet, with whom I had a shoot in September, and Simphiwe “Snoopie” Dlamini. Although we haven’t collaborated as yet, Mbulelo has been of great assistance in my photography.”

The artist also says he is working on a number of projects that he hopes will take his career top the next level.

“I am currently working on a Mike Todd illustration portrait from his book, ‘Relationship Goals’, and I hope to one day redraw the King a portrait which I could present to him. I also can’t wait for the lockdown to be over, I have winter concepts lined up. People should watch the space!”


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