May 20, 2024

I am a hustler, a hard worker, and always align myself with God- Siyabonga Mbhele

Siyabonga Mbhele

The likes of Alf Khumalo and Peter Magubane have paved the way for people like Siyabonga Mbhele who has turned his passion for Photography and Photojournalism into an entrepreneurial success story. Photography is one of the oldest and most iconic professions in South Africa as it has captured and idealised native life and landscapes. It has captured the transition from the apartheid years to the new freedom.

Mbhele is a young entrepreneur from Pietermaritzburg in a township called Imbali. He is a founder of the photography company LordBear Pictures, a steadily growing photography business that doesn’t only stick to taking pictures but expands its horizon by producing documentaries amongst other things. The 25-year-old is building a name for himself as he has recently shot a book launch of the former Orlando Pirate goalkeeper and a legend, Kamuzu Banda. He describes that whole experience as a dream come true for him

As he recalls his childhood, growing up in a township with a lot of people with different characters, one chooses a person who will inspire them to be who they want to become. He describes a guy he knew around with neighborhood who was a photographer as a person who inspired him to become a photographer himself.” The guy will borrow me his camera to do photography for people and charge money that’s when I realised that I can make money through photography” Mbhele recalls

Mbhele’s entrepreneurial journey begins there. He started playing around with different names he can call his business and decided to call it LordBear pictures, Lord being a greater being and Bear as Mbhele. He continued with his photography throughout his high school and University where he obtained his diploma in Journalism at the Durban University of Technology. “studying journalism made it easy for me to be able to incorporate storytelling, content creation, and commercial work” Mbhele said describing his work. He also said he has learned a lot through his varsity days about financial management as he finances his work using NSFAS.

Although being one of the youngest photographer entrepreneurs, Mbhele said his journey came with challenges such as people not trusting that he is legit due to scam companies. “People will question the legitimacy of the company when they approach you from social media which is unfortunate, however in the same breath people who do not know me have shown so much support more than friends and family, “Mbhele said. “The fact that parents sometimes do not understand that you can make a decent living through creative art can also be challenging as the time goes by and you prove to them that art can earn you a living they become supportive. They have seen that I am a hustler, a hard worker, and always align myself with God” Mbhele added.

Siyabonga Mbhele

Mbhele has contributed to the creation of employment by employing freelancers to work for him. He emphasises that he recruits team members than employees as he says the word Employee has a low-key element of inferiority complex. “I have a team because I see people who are as much as hard-working and dedicated as me, who want to contribute to the creation of something beautiful while getting rewarded for it,” Mbhele said describing the people he hired to his company. One of the unique things about Lordbear Pictures is not only doing photoshoots for events like weddings and funerals but also doing documentaries, and freelance for news, political events, and conferences. He markets his work on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. He describes that his business culture is always professional and produces unique and special content for each client.

Although Mbhele says he is not where he wants to be with his company, he vows to keep working hard while creating generational wealth and continue to produce the best content through his photography.” His personality and ability to showcase his talent have helped him to sharpen his entrepreneurial skills.” There is so much untapped potential on our continent, especially in the creative space, yes entrepreneurship is a bumpy ride that can discourage many that aren’t prepared but if they take failure as a lesson they will surely succeed” Mbhele said. He admits that he has made and still makes mistakes in his journey but he learns from them and continues.Siyabonga Mbhele