Lal Hegoda has been active in the field of photography as an internationally acclaimed professional photographer and a teacher in photography during last 45 years. He was honourd with the state literary award for poetry in year 2000 and his poetical creations have been much appriciated by critics for their novel approach towards content and form of modern Sinhalese poetry.
Lal Hegoda was born on 4th July 1947 in the city of Colombo. He was fortunate enough to have a legacy of creative talent from his father; a pioneer photographer – poet late Mr. Wilson Hegoda who played a key role in teaching photography in Sinhala. Young Hegoda capitalized this legacy and developed his knowledge on theoretical and practical sides of the photography.
His debut in the field of photography, ‘Freud’s Daughter’, an exhibition of photography was held in 1971. In this exhibition he explored the hidden areas of human physiology and interpersonal relationships together with raw photographic techniques. In 1984 he held his second one man exhibition of photography ‘Through the Window’ consisting of 25 photographs taken from the office window. In this he daringly experimented with the techniques of exposure and composition and further he tried to convey the message of decadence in human soul. ‘Kalaniya pahe Saraniya’ (Beautiful Kelaniya) was the first exhibition of photographs taken by the students of Hegoda School of Photography under the personal guidance of Lal Hagoda, its principle and this Exhibition was held in 1994. This was a combination of photographs taken by the master and students which gave a panoramic view of the religiosity in the historical place of worship.
‘Chula Rata’ (Tiny Patterns) was the second exhibition of photography presented by the HSP in 1977, with the active participation and guidance of its principal. This exhibition covered the life style of the people in a fishing village and consisted of over 300 photographs covering almost every human activity in the village: This was kept open for a week in the village and gained significant critical acclaim for the institution. The third exhibition of the institution was held in 1999 under the name of ‘Nuwara Weva Raume’ (Around the Kandy Lake) which covered the beauty and the enviromental hazards in and around of this holy city. After long meaningful silence Lal emerged out with his latest exhibition of photography, ‘Roopa Chaya’ with broader view of human life. This was held in 2005 in Colombo and it was a much appraised event in the field of photography.
Apart from these activities his contribution to the development of photographic Art in Sri Lanka was highlighted with establishing the Hegoda School of photography in 1972. The institution has produced more than 3500 well trained photographers, out of which emerged several distinguished individuals who are now working in different fields of commercial and Art photography.
His international acclaime was marked by the following awards bestowed upon him by the International Federation of Photographic Art Societies: AFIAP (Artist) 1974, EFIAP (Excellence) 1976, EsFIAP (Excellent Service of Photography) 1985. In Sri Lanka he was honoured with the award of FNPAS (Fellow of the Natural Photographic Society of Sri Lanka) in 1975. He was further honoured by the Japan Sri Lanka Friendship Association by awarding him Bunka award for the year 1998. Lal was the first one to be honoured with this award in the field of photography.
Lal has been active in every field of photography in Sri Lanka, and his affiliations with local bodies in the related field are numerous; he held various official positions in the following societies: The National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka, (President 1988 -1996) The Federation of International Photographic Art, (Liaisom Officer Sri Lanka 1984 -1996) The Art Society of Sri Lanka (Trustee), Green Vision (Association of Artists for Environment) President. Lal is also a member of Royal Photographic Society. He authored ‘Techniques of Photography and Art, (in 1997) a book on theory of photography which was a commendable attempt to provide wider knowledge for Sinhala medium students.
Apart from his achievements in photography, he has become a leading figure in modern Sinhalese poetry with the publication of ‘Ma Minisek Oba Gangak Nisa’ (I am a man, as you are a river – 1996), his first book of poetry. This book won him the State literary award for the best book of poetry in 1996, and it also won the Upali Newspaper Cultural Festival Award and Special Critics Certificate at the Indipendent festival of literature.
‘Pasaloswaka Sanda Mageya’ (The Poya fullmoon is mine – 1996) was his second contribution to the Sinhalese poetry which was honoured with the Special Critics Certificate in the Indipendent Festival of Literature, ‘Sandun Aratuwa Dalluye Obai’, (You are the one who set fire to the Sandle wood duraman – 2001) and ‘Ganga wak wee Galana Thena’ (The place where the river curves – 2003) were another two books of poetry which highlighted his poetical talents. He was instrumental in publishing (incollabaration with Sarasavi Publishers) ‘Kavisiyapatha’ a collection of poems by up and coming poets Islandwide and now it has become an annual event.
Currently he lives in Colombo managing his School of Photography with active participation of various other creative activities in the field of art.