From Josef Adamu’s Squarespace website

It’s impossible to put Josef Adamu inside a box. He’s a creative director, but he’s never content staying behind the

lens. Most of the time, he’s in front of it, directing the photographer and starring in the shoot at the same time.

Adamu’s process is meticulous from beginning to end, and he has control over every stage, from conceptualizing a picture to creating the final edit. The stories he tells inside his head are brought into the real world through color, shapes, architecture, and design.

Adamu’s aesthetic is distinctively modern, defined by bold hues, sharp lines, and careful, conscious compositions. His portfolio is like a cross between a personal diary and a fashion editorial, with impeccable lighting and a wide variety of influences, ranging from digital artwork to classic modernist architecture.

We talked to Adamu about making work on his own terms and building a dynamic online presence.

From Josef Adamu’s Squarespace website

Do you define yourself as a creative director, a model, or a photographer? Tell us a bit about the Josef Adamu brand and how it’s developed and evolved.
“I would define myself as both a creative director and a ‘modelographer,’ if that makes sense. I develop a vision and begin to sketch out ideas of how I’d like to structure the project. The term ‘modelographer’ was recently introduced to me by a friend. It represents a creative individual with the perspective of a photographer and the ability to act as a subject in the frame. The majority of my work is self-directed, and I use myself as a muse in the images to emphasize the importance of moods, expression, and color coordination from story to story.”


From Josef Adamu’s Squarespace website

How is your work influenced by architecture, fashion, and other kinds of design work? What inspires you?
“Inspiration is literally everywhere. When I am composing a mood board for a new project, I often focus on what elements can add to the versatility of my work. The color, design, and texture of various buildings have always been vital to my projects when considering the environment. The clothing used in my stories has always been a crucial components as well.

“I aim to utilize bold colors, as they really intrigue the audience and often work very well with the rest of the photo. Lastly, I would say everything from literature, digital illustrations, East Asian fashion, vintage architecture, and many more movements inspire the work I do. These elements are frequently used in my mood boards as references that lead to such good images.”

From Josef Adamu’s Squarespace website

How much creative control do you have over a commissioned assignment? How do you reconcile your personal vision with clients’ visions?
“Most of my content is created for my personal portfolio, so I have full creative control on almost all my work. In regards working with clients, I tend to brainstorm ideas with them and narrow it down to a perspective we can agree on. I always take a look at previous work by the client and understand it in relation to what they are trying to achieve at the moment. Once understood, I mesh those ideas with my own and add a cool twist to the vision.”

As a millennial, you’re coming of age as an artist at the same time social media is reshaping the industry. Do you think building a brand is harder now that it was for the last generation? Why or why not?
“I believe that building a brand has become so much easier over time. The internet is ubiquitous, and so much information is out there to be discovered. The components of how to build and maintain a brand- including documentaries, website tutorials, social media hints, and more- are so easily accessible. Individuals do not necessarily have to attend networking events to build their personal brand. One could reach the entire world through the Internet. The virtual community allows for things like retweets, likes, reblogs and reposts that get information jumping all over the net. We should take every digital opportunity we have and run with it!”;p=11237204692211;idfa=;aaid=;idfa_lat=;aaid_lat=;cache=

From Josef Adamu’s Squarespace website

Why did you choose Squarespace to build your site, and what template did you pick?
“Squarespace is a great foundation for the work I am presenting. It is very straightforward, user-friendly, and clean. I started with Squarespace about two years ago using the template Ishimoto, which was amazing for slideshow presentation formats. After a while, however, I wanted to try something new with a template that allows you to scroll up and down while viewing a story. I chose Jasper, as it not only allows for a cleaner view of the gallery images but it also allows me to display my projects in grid form! I am really impressed by the layout.”

How does your Squarespace website complement your aesthetic and your brand?
“My brand is all about bringing images to life through storytelling. These stories include a handful of color palettes, fashions, architectures, digital illustrations and many more. My website represents all of these components, and it really speaks volumes to the audience about what I stand for. I am keen on little details, and my friends have always pointed out my obsession with the little things. In every image, illustration, and story told, there are several details that make up the big picture. Thus, my site is a direct representation of who I am.”

What advice would you give to emerging photographers about building an online presence?
“Be yourself. Tell your story. Pick a creative approach to maintain, and perfect that. Network, network, network! Feel free to shadow some of the really experienced and talented people online. Always put yourself in a position to learn more, and have faith. Good things will come if you continue to work at it.”

What projects are on the horizon for you?
“I was recently granted a position as a creative director for an emerging artist. I have been busy with deadlines and responsibilities, but the process has been fun! It is amazing to see how I can carry the skills I’ve used to brand myself over to a musician that could use some creative help. The next few months or so will be dedicated to completing that mission and hopefully growing with his team as we sharpen his image.

“Another project I have been recently working on is a Digital e-Book named Jabir in America. The book is available on Issuu, and I am the illustrator for the book. My close friend, Harun Farah, is the author, and together we’ve created a tale about a young teen who moves from Ghana to the U.S.A. to begin of a new life. It is a relatable and enjoyable story that most people have enjoyed so far. It was extremely fun creating it, and we have a few more parts to the story to release. I am really proud of the fact that I have been able to transfer my creative skills over to digital illustrations, as it helps me tell both fictional and non-fictional stories through my personal lens.”

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