Bela Bali-Sharma was born in Germany in 1935 and has been based in Nairobi since 1957. She is a noted photographer in Kenya, having done important photography work from the 1960s through to the 1970s and 1980s.
Bali-Sharma took assignments in different fields all over Kenya. She was the Official Photographer for the East African Safari Rally and the Nairobi Agricultural Show. In her other work, she covered wildlife, weddings, public relations functions, and aerial, architectural, ballet, theatrical, sports, social, and industrial events, as well as doing portraits and studio sessions. Bela Bali-Sharma’s Studio Jacqueline, opened in 1962, became well known in a very short time and was active for twenty-five years. Bali-Sharma’s coverage of the time was unique because she effortlessly crossed the boundaries of Kenya’s many communities. Here was a photographer who was part of the Asian African community, part of the broader Kenyan community, and part of the outside world.
Her perceptive portraits brought to the Asian African community its own reflective and serious side, neglected by itself and often ignored by its fellow citizens. Bali-Sharma never forgot that a principal object in creativity and in all art is beauty.