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The Growth of Our Commercial Photography Business

Starting a small photography business is no easy feat, but for many photographers, it’s a passion project turned profession. In this blog post, learn more about GradePixel’s journey from a singular freelancer to my current company with a team of 4.

1. Starting at home

My journey as a photographer was not an easy one. It was a constant struggle to establish myself in the industry, especially without any formal training or guidance. Starting out, I carried my camera with me everywhere I went and spent countless hours taking photos of my friends and family, learning through trial and error. When I first started as a freelancer in 2010, I shot many weddings and personal product photos, at home, to hone my skills.


Starting out as a photographer at home. Photos by Sylvester LIm. 

2. Landing my first major client

I landed my first major job with Charles and Keith in 2012, I was thrown into the deep end. I had to shoot and edit over 100 products a week, and the pressure to deliver high-quality work on a tight deadline was immense. But I refused to let the challenge defeat me. Instead, I poured all my energy into perfecting my craft and learning as much as I could. But being a freelancer was not easy, I faced many obstacles. I had to hustle hard to secure clients, often taking on low-paying jobs just to get my foot in the door.
But I refused to give up. I worked tirelessly to build my portfolio and reputation, constantly refining my skills and seeking client feedback. I knew that there was always room for improvement, and I was never satisfied with just being “good enough.” I constantly pushed myself to innovate and experiment, trying new techniques and styles to stand out.


Photo from GradePixel

3. Establishing and building GradePixel

In 2013, I established GradePixel as an official business. This was the start of a new beginning and I looked forward to the adventures I was about to embark on as a photographer. At this time, I had just a small warehouse rental space from 2012. Through perfecting my craft, I was able to gain more clientele which helped me gain confidence in myself as a creative. From 2016-2018, the team expanded and so did the studio space. We had a mezzanine for our workspace and I rented another studio space if there were 2 shoots happening concurrently and rented it out as well when it wasn’t in use.


Photo from GradePixel

4. 2019 – Present

I was finally able to purchase another studio, 3 times bigger than the previous one, and shift all of GradePixel’s activities to this new studio. Since 2019, the team has continued to grow as I have also grown in my skills to deliver quality work to our clients. The team in GradePixel has been a small one and this gives us opportunities to get to know each other better in the office as well as outside, where we get to have lunch together and even have the chance to go on company trips.


Photo from GradePixel

Looking back on my journey, I am proud of how far I’ve come. It was not an easy road, but it taught me the value of hard work, determination, and resilience. If there’s one thing that I want to inspire others with, it’s that success is not handed to you on a silver platter. It takes grit, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes. But with enough dedication and passion, anything is possible.

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