Titilayo Ayangade

Titilayo Ayangade Freelance Founders

American by birth but Nigerian at heart Titilayo Ayangade is a Washington, D.C and NYC based multi-hyphenate creative. She is a portrait photographer, cinematographer and classically trained cellist steeped in all forms of art from a young age. She believes that you can only be offered the things you have the curiosity to discover and doesn’t believe in doing things halfway. She is driven by the discovery and realization of ideas.

First question: Do you consider yourself a freelancer or a founder?

I definitely consider myself to be a bit of both! As a founder, I have been crafting my brand titilayo&co for the last ten years. As a freelancer, I put on many different hats each and every day to keep both my musical and visual presence thriving.

Can you tell us how you got into photography?

The first photoshoot I ever did was for my uncles boy scout troop and I have to say that was what peaked my interest. There was something about the challenge of coaxing these young men to drop the armor that all teens have to and to let a little bit of themselves shine for the camera. This is how I knew I loved portrait photography, and at the time I was in undergrad as a cellist. Conservatory is ripe with musicians, dancers, and actors who need good portraits that help reveal their soul, and this niche has remained one of my favorites to photograph over the years.

Your style is incredible, can you share where you find inspiration?

I draw inspiration from literally anything and everything. I'm most inspired by ideas, even if they seem outlandish, and I really love the surreal. I also find inspo in unexpected color combinations, like the juxtaposition of the sky against a brightly colored structure or in the texture of textiles. My curiosity is also peaked by really great writing, and I often finish a book with the desire to get out and recreate a little bit of the world I read about.

What do you look for when you are taking someone's photo? What is your process?

I always look for the unexpected. The best photos are well planned but really come to life when someones shoulders start to relax or when we discover a nifty location that we are inspired by. I like to play music while I shoot and I always try and make conversation so that it begins to feel more like an organic hangout rather than a stiff and posed ordeal.

How do you find and maintain your clients?

I have to thank Instagram for this and my ever growing network of fellow artists and photographers. I frequently receive DM's from potential clients and also send my fair share of messages to people who interest me or who I would like to work with. I also use location specific hashtags to help new people find my account.

Can you tell us a little more about being a cellist?

Sure! I started playing cello at the age of 5 and I am still playing 23 years later. I'm currently in the middle of my final degree- the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A) and I am the cellist of the Thalea String Quartet. Prior to the pandemic my music career consisted of daily rehearsals, playing in various regional orchestras, traveling to incredible places to play concerts and collaborating with other musicians. Cello has also enabled me to travel a lot and I always have my camera with me just in case I can link up with a potential client in an awesome location. I've played concerts in China, Belgium, Brazil and England! A lot of being a functional musician is learned on the job and outside of the conservatory setting. I like to think that my two careers have each helped the other grow.

What's your favorite part of your job?

Being my own boss! This is also the hardest part because it means that I have to take ownership of everything including deadlines, payment, time management and looking for new opportunities. While all of this brings me joy when it works smoothly, sometimes I wish I could expand my business and take on an associate.

What advice do you have for creative people who want to pursue their passion as a career?

Adopt a devil may care attitude. As creatives, we often get in our own way with self doubt or wondering if others will think we are "good enough". You decide what inspires you or what drives you. Once you start feeling proud of yourself, other opportunities will align themselves with you.

What's next for you?

As more opportunities open up this year, I'm looking forward to building up my creative network in D.C. and NYC as I just arrived here in September. I also have a short film that I shot and co directed coming out very soon that ties music and imagery together in a very exciting way! I'm also starting to dive into product photography which really inspires my need to play with details and color.

Anything else you'd like to add?

My inbox is always open. I love getting messages from fellow creatives whether it's for a job, or a meetup to exchange thoughts!

“I always look for the unexpected. The best photos are well planned but really come to life when someones shoulders start to relax or when we discover a nifty location that we are inspired by."