Meet the young entrepreneurs determined to 'put Leeds on the map' with new photography studio
A photography studio designed to "put Leeds businesses on the map" has opened in Bramley.
AP Studios offers a state-of-the-art space complete with lighting equipment to hire and a production team on hand to give support during shoots.
Ola Akinlade, 25, and his partner Charlie Pollard, 23, are the young business owners behind the studio.
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Ola launched BVL Designs, a fashion label specialising in trainer customisation, during the pandemic after quitting his job as a marketing strategist.
His flair for photography saw the business take off on Instagram, where Ola regularly posts flawless promotional shots to his 12,000 followers.
Frustrated at the lack of opportunities for young entrepreneurs, and recognising the extra challenges for black and ethnic minority business owners, Ola began to brainstorm ways to share his knowledge with other young professionals.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I wanted to take a different approach and try to inspire people around me.
“We proposed the idea of getting a photography studio together to try and put Leeds on the map.”
Ola and Charlie have spent four months renovating an abandoned warehouse off Broad Lane, documenting the journey on social media as they brought their vision to life.
They found that many photography studios are only open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, charging premium costs for weekends, making it difficult for start-up businesses to afford the costs of a shoot.
AP Studios will open from 5pm to 9pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, offering a discounted rate for new business owners.
Ola added: “The difference that we offer is that when we take bookings is that we offer the full package with it. It’s to try and reinvigorate the creative arm in Leeds, while offering a better service for local businesses.
“If you’re still working but you want to build your business, you can come on a weekday after you finish work.”
AP Studios opened with a launch party on October 21, where Ola's family and friends, local business owners and Leeds rapper Graft were among the guests.
The studio will also offer classes in photography for up-and-coming creatives or people with an interest in film and photography, where they can take part in challenges and learn how to use the studio.
It's just the start of Ola's big dreams to make Leeds "the new creative capital."
He added: “I feel like I’m a little overambitious, but the past year has really shown that there’s an appetite for it.
“There’s two things we want to achieve; at the core is to offer access for people up North to be able to work with cool creatives. Since I started the business over the past year, I’ve had the luxury of working with high-profile clients such as Microsoft, Jaded, Reebok and Converse.
“That gave me interesting access to brands and models. In time, we want to build that access up North.
“The second thing is working with communities. Growing up, there were a lot of people our age who were struggling to find their path.
"We’d love to offer services, hopefully working with schools to provide access for different communities to work with us and build up their knowledge."
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