Sometimes, the tips you need to turn your business into a brand lies in hands of an expert who is not a fellow designer but a photographer. Mauvelli had a robust chat with a Lifestyle and Fashion Photographer, Adedeji Majekolagbe (Majek), who had a lot of insights on building an outstanding fashion brand from a photography viewpoint.
He started his career by teaching himself Photography as an undergraduate. What began as a search for something to enjoy, be known for, and a means to explore art has grown into a fullblown passion that keeps Majek on his toes to improve his craft.
His learning started with him giving himself to learning the art of photography, reading books and watching videos. According to him, he attended the “YouTube College of photography”.
Photography, business and fashion.
Deji shares from his experience as he tells us of how people are visual beings who like to see and experience things before they buy or invest. He believes that “Photography helps create that experience and serves a functional role of showing potential clients what a product is”.
Having worked with a number of fashion brands on their look books and social media campaigns, he explains the relevance of the look-book and what photography has to do with social media campaigns. He says the look-book is absolutely relevant to a fashion brand, “it can either be in print or digital”.
Look-books are mostly done for new collections and new products, they contain details about the collection and what it looks like.
It is how you say “hey I have new designs out, this is what they look like, and this is the idea and inspiration behind my designs’.
To survive in a digital world which social media is a key part of, brands need great, quality content to push them. The visual space we all live in, is one where people want things that appeal to their senses.
Brands run campaigns that have certain direction, and messages to communicate. This is where photography comes in by “creating visually appealing content, passing information and appealing to people’s emotions through pictures.”
The Look-book is an offshoot of a type of photography called Catalog Photography. There are other kinds of photography that are well fitting for fashion brands in general. Majek mentioned that most fashion brands in Nigeria often go the Photography look-book approach because it can be used both online and offline.
Other types of photography that fashion brands in Nigeria use include flat lays and Lifestyle Fashion photography (which is quite huge). Majek is of the opinion that “a fairly established brand should explore all three”. These options are quite affordable for small time brands, but he also recommends phone photography as a style that can be explored.
To get the best with phone photography, Deji has a few tips for designers; “Ensure you know the basics (there is a knowing that is needed), know the story you want to tell (Photography goes beyond pushing a button), know what you want your audience to see, and the energy you want to pass across. Very importantly, have a basic understanding of lighting”.
Building a brand with photography
Even though the fashion industry is a high-potential one, the Fashion industry in Nigeria is not huge, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface. There are a number of bespoke designers, a number in the fashion accessories and makeup sector that currently stand out.
This subset of the industry understands the need to photograph their craft, and show it to a wider audience. It is obvious that photography has been huge in showing the world what fashion is in Nigeria, and that is huge.
We don’t have a lot of brands, what we have is a lot of Fashion businesses.
Brands understand the need for storytelling, appealing to people’s emotions and connecting with their clients on a level that is beyond selling products. This is why brands use photography every step of the way. On the other hand “fashion businesses” just want to sell a product and engage photography when it can help to achieve that.
He further explains that what it means to be a brand is beyond having a registered business, an Instagram handle or a logo. What marks a brand is a sense of connection, a sense of belonging and identity that people get when they buy and use your fashion items.
‘Why do people buy iPhones, Versace, Nike and the likes?’ He asks. It is because there is a sense of identity that is attached to wearing or using these products. These brands have identified themselves as luxury and “special brands”, and they have been able to do this with different tools with photography playing a huge part (people believe only what they let them see).
When people identify with what your message is, and can connect to your product, or are ready to have arguments on topics such as iPhone is better than Samsung, or say things like I only wear DMC, then you have a community.
You have a brand when you have fans and ultimately, these “fans” become your community.”
Clearly, starting a business is not the same as having a brand, a brand is a business, but a business isn’t necessarily a brand. A brand tells a story, and has an essence that the consumers can identify with, which ultimately turns them into loyal consumers. Building a brand is something every designer should strive to do daily for maximum success, and photography is a great tool to make that happen.