Felix Adebayo commercial photography business tips pixieset

Felix Adebayo – 3 pillars to build a successful commercial photography business

In the past couple of years, the photography industry has transformed on so many levels. From the tools photographers use to run their businesses to the spreading application of AI — all of this shapes how professionals work today. In order to stay relevant on the market and build a solid reputation, photographers of all genres and at all stages of their careers need to embrace a growth mindset.

Felix Adebayo is our long-term user and a well-known commercial photographer from Nigeria. He understood right from the start that to keep up with his clients and their demanding requirements, he must adjust his approach continuously. Especially when it comes to working with big brands that have their own voice and target audience.

"Collaborating with brands is like stepping into a game where every move is part of a larger strategy. It's more than photography; it's understanding a brand's vision and voice, peering into its DNA and becoming a visual storyteller for its values."

In this interview, Felix discusses the intricacies of working with big brands, and shares key insights on how to build a successful commercial photography business.

What led you to fashion and commercial photography?

As a kid, I saw my mom as a ‘memory collector’. She was so fascinated in collecting memories of us growing up, it intrigued me. I persuaded her to get me an analog camera, and after saving up to buy the Kodak film, I started snapping photos of everything around. Fast forward to 2015, during my final year at university, I decided to go fully into photography. I tried out almost all genres, but discovered that fashion and beauty photography intrigued me the most — the unusual angles, details, styling, and makeup. I've never followed the norms and instead preferred to create out-of-the-box fashion statements that painted new realities. The thrill of revealing to someone their captured essence is like no other.

Felix Adebayo - Woman of Color in Costume, Commercial photography

How would you define your style, and what influenced it?

I would describe my style as bold, fashionable, creative, and authentic. That’s why I proudly call it #TheFelixCrownEffect. The elements that define my work are my intricate use of shadows and lighting, camera angles, composition as well as themes. I love super creative images where the audience is challenged to ask “What thoughts led to this?”. I don’t chase trends, I prefer to be a pacesetter.

My early influences were Lindsay Adler, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Mett & Marcus, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, and the like. These artists sparked my interest and creativity in everything related to beauty, fashion, and commercial photography.

What did you learn from working with international brands?

It’s a beautiful experience and a learning curve that over time has broadened my perspective and enriched my artistic approach. Working with brands teaches you how to adapt to market trends, and how to diversify your work so it’s relevant to various audiences. Understanding the brand’s identity, what their audience loves and considers beauty standards, is essential for this type of work. Storytelling also plays a major role, and you have to adapt it to the cultural differences.

Felix Adebayo, Commercial Photographer - Woman and Architecture
Felix Adebayo - Woman on Red Background, photo for commercial purposes

Is working with brands any different than working with people? What are the differences and how do you cultivate long-term relationships?

Collaborating with brands is like stepping into a game where every move is part of a larger strategy. It's more than photography; it's understanding a brand's vision and voice, peering into its DNA and becoming a visual storyteller for its values. When working with brands, I’m not just an artist dictating the direction, I’m a strategic partner who builds trust, offers insights, celebrates their success and brainstorms together on future projects. It’s all about communication, adaptability and exceeding expectations.

Working with individuals is different — it's personal, it's emotional. It's about capturing their triumphs, their passions, their essence.

Felix Adebayo, commercial photographer - Woman in Black Dress on Stage
Felix Adebayo - Woman Playing a Character. Commercial photoshoot.

From your experience, what are 3 tips for running a successful commercial photography business?

Based on my experience and observations as a commercial photographer, here are 3 tips for running a successful commercial photography business:

  1. Master the Business: value your work, understand contracts, and invest in tools to streamline operations. Clients respect those who respect their investment.
  2. Forge Partnerships: network, prioritize service, and become a storyteller for your client’s brand. Happy clients become loyal fans and advocates.
  3. Adapt and Grow: embrace new trends, explore new niches, and constantly hone your skills. Stay sharp, stay relevant, and stay ahead of the curve.

These 3 pillars will build a rock-solid foundation for your commercial photography career.

How do Pixieset tools impact the experience you offer?

Pixieset is a powerful tool that has helped me streamline my workflow, enhance my client’s experience, and add professionalism to my services. The easy-to-build website feature has helped me create what I call the best photographer website I have ever seen. I was using WordPress before and it was not user-friendly and quite tedious (in my experience) however, when I switched to the Pixieset website builder, I was able to curate the best website by myself.

The client management tool in Pixieset is to die for, managing contracts, invoices, and communication with clients comes with ease. It has helped me keep everything organized and allows me to focus on creative work. Pixieset has also helped to elevate clients’ perception of my services by creating beautifully designed galleries in a polished and professional manner. The customization options help to personalize individual experiences for my clients.

How do you use technology to unlock creativity?

I have used technology a lot since I started photography. In order to embrace new tools and options that help enhance my artistic vision and creativity — I read, learn and also experiment a lot. For example, I use AI to draft mood boards for some of my brand projects. It allows me to easily envision everything, from camera angle to composition, lighting, color palette, props, and more. I also use it for administrative tasks, to sort and organize my images, and enhance them in Photoshop.

Felix Adebayo - Woman at Theater. Commercial photosession.

How do you foresee the impact of AI on the photography industry?

The impact of AI on the photography industry has been somewhat of a bone of contention for a while now and I don’t think it would go anytime soon. AI to me, is like a two-edged sword. It comes with its pros and cons. The one who wields it, determines its effect.

Good news:

  • Editing made easy: AI can auto-magically fix photos, saving you time and effort.
  • Get creative: Dream up any idea, any idea at all and AI brings it to life.
  • Boost efficiency: AI helps with mundane tasks like organizing photos and suggesting camera settings, lighting ideas, and set designs that would work with any of your subjects.

Challenges to ponder: Who owns the art? Copyright gets fuzzy with AI-generated images. Is it still real photography? Can AI create pictures that measure up to human vision?

Conclusively I would say, that AI is a tool, not a replacement for our artistic soul. AI is here, but your creativity reigns supreme. Use it wisely, and keep your vision sharp. It will only impact those who don't want to use it to their advantage.

Felix Adebayo, commercial photographer - Women in Green Outfit

Commercial photography is a challenging niche with plenty of moving parts. From understanding a brand's unique voice to offering a flawless client experience, from knowing the market's intricacies to adopting emerging tools — everything contributes to your success.

Felix Adebayo has built a robust commercial photography business without losing sight of his roots and legacy. Quite the opposite, his unique style and ideas surface in everything he does, turning Felix into a reference for anyone pursuing this type of creative career.

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