Bio – Palli Garjee


I was born and brought up in Kenya, my parents having migrated from India back in the mid-20’s. My interest in photography began at a young age of 15, when I saved enough pocket money to invest in a Kodak 127 folding camera just after the last War. It had only cost me an equivalent of $3.00 then !!!

Enthusiasm in portraiture developed and in 1951 I added a twin-lens Roleiflex to my equipment. Relatives, friends and anyone else who could be persuaded were posing in front of my new toy.

Two years later, in 1953, this interest in portraiture took a new turn when I travelled to the United Kingdom to do a two-year full-time course in photography at the Manchester College of Technology … now known as Manchester Polytechnic.

After the completion of studies, I turned to London and joined the West-End portrait studio with the well-known photographer, the late Walter Bird, FBIPP, FRPS. Two years experience gained from this studio proved most beneficial and any success I achieved in portrait work is largely attributed to this great master of portrait photography. Bird himself was a keen Salon exhibitor which was to provide even further incentive in competing with other exhibitors around the world.

In 1958 I returned to Nairobi, Kenya to set up my own portrait and commercial studio with some degree of success. To be a successful portraitist one has to be very much aware of the importance of recording the human personality, coupled with rules of composition, lighting, background and so forth. A couple of years later, a job offer as a senior cameraman, emerged from the Kenya Government Information Services … an offer too good to refuse. This gave me good exposure to various other branches of photography such as Press, Photojournalism, Architectural, Industrial, Wildlife, Landscape Photography, etc., etc. Also, prior to Kenya gaining Independence in 1963, I was made the Head of Photographic Section with the Information Services … quite a demanding job I might add.

The biggest surprise of my life came in 1964, when my wife gave me a birthday present of a Hasselblad 500C complete with 150mm and 250mm lenses, magazines and prism finder.

Well, this was to be a major breakthrough in doing wildlife studies in colour and black-and-white. From then on, most of our week-ends and annual holidays were to be spent around the National Parks and Game Reserves of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania … an experience and thrill which is still cherished today.

In 1972, having made a momentous decision, we moved to Australia for permanent residence and settled in Melbourne. I joined Swinburne College of Technology ( now known as Swinburne University ) in 1973, and retired from full-time lecturing position in Photography after 22 years.

Since arriving in Australia, I have given decades of “Service to Photography” as a judge at National and International Exhibitions in Victoria, N.S.W., South Australia and Tasmania. I have also represented Australia in a number of special and restricted “Invitation Only Exhibitions” namely, “5 Continents – 5 Photographers”, held in Nivelles, Belgium; six “Masters of Photography” from around the world featured in an exhibition in the Pablo Picasso Galleries in France; “Authors’ Salon” shown in Bucharest, Romania, to name a few.

My close involvement with the organising committee of the VIGEX goes back to the early days of 1979, when it staged its first International Salon in 1980. It was a pleasure too, to be invited to be a member of the judging panel for VIGEX-1; 2; 3; 5; 6; 7 and 9. To date, I have judged 12 Internationals, 35 Nationals and countless number of Club judgings in all the States mentioned in the preceding paragraph.

Over the years, I have gained several skill and service honours from some of the leading Photographic Societies around the world, including Australia. These Societies, whose Life Memberships I also hold, are: APS, RPS and PSA.

Skill Honours: FAPS, FRPS, FPSA

Service Honours: ESAPS, SSVAPS, Hon.FRPS, Hon.PSA


The International Directory Board of FIAP awarded me its highest service honour, Hon.EFIAP, for a lifetime of “Service to Photography” in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.

On several occasions, I had been asked to be a member of the assessment panel for FIAP Photographic Honours. Additionally, I have also served as a Foundation Member of the FIAP Nature Commission for sixteen years. The Commission, incidentally, was set up here in Australia during FIAP Congress that was held in conjunction with Canberra 1979 Apscon.

In 1989, I was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “Service to Photography”. Needless to say that this has been my most treasured award to date.

For some years now, I have been involved with digital photography, having accepted the huge challenge in what the hidden mysteries of Photoshop unfolds. Its indeed a big learning curve but, by belonging to the Club’s Digital Group, things should become a little less complex in today’s technological era !! Hope you enjoy a small selection of images in my gallery!

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