Oladimeji Ajegbile is a Nigerian brand architect and Pexels photographer, most known for his successful track record of over 43 million views on Pexels. We had a virtual interview with him to learn the story behind his moniker Brand Architect, how he started his photography career, and what creatives can do to achieve feats like his.
Thank you for speaking with us. How did you begin? Did you plan your career?
I deliberately planned my career as a Brand Architect. Right from my first degree, I knew the 9-5 path wasn’t for me, and the idea of being stuck in a public-service dead-end job was scary. This pushed me to plan a career as an independent designer early.
I, however, stumbled into photography while working on a church branding project in 2019, only a year ago. The church is in a Canadian-African community, and the lead pastor requested that I used pictures of people of color throughout the project. When I tried to do this, it was a challenge because I couldn’t find pictures of Africans performing religious activities on any of the stock photo sites.
This made me take a picture of myself while reading the bible to complete the project. The church loved it and encouraged me to take more pictures. Within four weeks, that single photo had gone viral among church designers and content marketers. A friend advised me to put more pictures on the free stock photo sites where more people would find them. I did that, and now, as they say, the rest is history.
You call yourself the Brand Architect, that’s interesting. Did you intentionally name yourself?
My first and second degrees were in Architecture and I’m good at it. My passion and creativity shine through when I’m building brand designs, I didn’t want to sabotage one for the other so I combined both to form a perfectly me title: the Brand Architect.
How did you climb to the top of Pexels?
Pexels is a photography platform that has Americans, Europeans, and Germans as the most active demographics. Most creators are from these parts of the world, with few creators of color, especially from Africa.
When I noticed the gap and realized the high level of demand for African and Africa stock photos, I devoted time to taking photos that filled the gap. Fortunately, at this time, Pexels was actively encouraging more creators of colors to join the community. I was among the few who got in and started early.
Reflecting now, I attribute my growth to being at the right place at the right time, and I thank everyone who has viewed and downloaded my photos and given positive ratings.
How can other young Nigerians and Africans do this?
It’s really not difficult, and I’m not special. I’ll advise that every aspiring photographer or creative start with what they have now.
A phone was all I had when I became a Pexels creator. I took most of my pictures with the same phone. Interestingly, I still use this phone. You do not need the best camera or fancy equipment before you start.
What you need is the passion for what you want to create and make sure you commit to it, regardless of what happens.
Finally, don’t allow your mind to limit you. Dream big. Put yourself out there, be vulnerable, and have fun while at it.
Who is the best voice in photography that you’d advise new learners to follow?
That’s a tough question to answer because it really depends on the type of photography you’re into. My recommendations are Peter McKinnon, a cinematography tutor, and Bayo Omoboriowo, a Nigerian documentary photographer. They both inspire me to improve my craft.