Ajani Charles is a Toronto-based professional Photographer, Director, Producer, Mental Health Advocate, and Canon Canada Ambassador with a background in fine arts who specializes in creating impactful stories about the human condition, self-actualization, and mental health.
A graduate of the nationally acclaimed Claude Watson Arts Program, Ajani also apprenticed at the Toronto School of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and at 235 Films, under many of the talented artists that currently work through the award-winning, Julien "Director X" Lutz co-founded production company Fela.
The mentoring and rigorous training he received at these institutions fertilized his natural talent, shaping him into a versatile and always evolving artist.
For Ajani the camera is a medium for self-expression and photography the ideal art form for capturing the ineffable beauty of people, objects, and landscapes. Though his images bear the distinctive stamp of his unique regard and sensibility, his work evidences an eclectic panoply of influences which includes Ansel Adams, Alexander Rodchenko, Richard Avedon, Gordon Parks, Jamel Shabazz, Chi Modu, Nabil Elderkin, André Kertesz, David LaChapelle, Steven Spielberg, Janusz Zygmunt, Hype Williams, Zack Snyder, Martin Scorsese, Michael Ballhaus, Helmut Newton, Annie Leibovitz, Bill Watterson, and Stan Lee.
Ajani is also the founder of The Visionaries — a Toronto-based photography and cinematography non-profit and educational program, providing mentoring to youth from the city’s priority neighborhoods.
What’s more, his work has been displayed at the Skills Canada Photographic Skills Competition, where he was awarded a medal for the technical polish of his images as a teenager. His photographs have also been exhibited in such venues as the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art and The New Era Flagship Store, among others.
In addition, Ajani has gained considerable notoriety in the Greater Toronto Area through his first photographic documentary, “Project T Dot” — a visual chronicle of the city’s hip-hop culture and community in its entirety, including a wide-ranging collection of intimate and dramatic black and white photographs. In production since December of 2006, “Project T Dot” is currently scheduled for a late 2022 publication date.
Ajani is also a public speaker and a journalist for publications such as Thrive Global and The Toronto Star, and he counts among his many and varied commercial clients H&M, Universal Music Group, Bridgestone, Christian Dior, Calm, and the UFC. His work has been featured in publications such as Complex, Jay-Z’s Life + Times, and Vogue.
Furthermore, he has worked with numerous icons and public figures in various capacities, including the likes of Arianna Huffington, Drake, The Weeknd, Pharrell Williams, Wu-Tang Clan, Janelle Monáe, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Slash, Kanye West, Akon, Gene Simmons, Spike Lee, Director X, Dana White, and Commander Chris Hadfield.
Finally, Ajani regularly donates his time, services, and capital from each of his distinctive, high-budget commercial projects to non-profit organizations and initiatives that promote and conduct research on mental health, such as The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Operation Prefrontal Cortex.
To be interviewed for Thrive Global, please reach out to Ajani's assistant via e-mail.