Your photography niche is the type of photography that you become known for because you’ve developed a high level of skill surrounding it and are comfortable with it. Some may question if having a photography niche in the first place is even necessary anymore, and it most certainly is.
A niche allows you to focus on just one discipline, which is ultra-helpful just from the standpoint of being empowered to direct your creative energies on one thing. Don’t be a jack of all trades by dabbling in several niches all at once because you’re bound to end up…a master of none! Instead, discover your niche and then own it. Here’s how to accomplish just that.
Understand the Different Niches
This seems logical, right? To find what niche you excel at, you have to first differentiate between them:
- Stock photography – You can work for yourself and generate passive income, yet it’s not really an art form, and you need many images to hope to make good money.
- Event photography – It can pay good money since it’s a big industry, and it’s more laid back than wedding photography, but it can be hard to break into while required traveling from gig to gig may not be your forte.
- Wildlife photography – You’ll be snapping shots that most photographers aren’t while being outdoors a lot, yet being with nature may also be a drawback if you’re not a big outdoorsy person. Plus, expect to work really long hours for the perfect shot(s).
- Food photography – This is an industry with very high-paying clients, and you’re frequently around delicious food, yet setup and equipment can be pretty expensive.
- Wedding photography – Many photographers want to be wedding photographers because it’s good money, is well-respected as an art form, and is in-demand. However, it’s very demanding, may require you to hire an assistant, and necessitates a lot of gear on your part.
- Fashion photography – Here, you’ll work with a broad range of people, get published in potentially highly recognizable publications, and is an extremely creative specialty, but there are so many photographers doing it that it’s getting oversaturated.
- Portrait photography – You have the advantage of a big market to enter into and meet a host of people, yet clients can be a bit of a handful while establishing yourself as a brand can be a long process.
- Sports photography – You’ll usually get free access to big sporting events and can be very creative in your angles, but you’d have to be a diehard sports fan first to really make a career of this.
- Architectural photography – If you make it in this industry, you can earn a lot from architecture firms while also seeing exceptionally amazing buildings and structures, but it’s not that reliable for work, as your market and clients are usually dependent only on your location.
- Fine art photography – You’ll hopefully get to start a career while working on your art form, but…it’s really hard to break into and is therefore better suited to older photographers with a wealth of experience already under their belts.
First Step: Try a Lot of Niches
This should basically be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many photographers let fear stand in their way of trying out as many niches as possible! Getting out of your old, stale comfort zone is a definite prerequisite in finally finding that niche that you’re good at. There’s a difference between mastering everything and just trying various niches. Remember that.
You’re not expected to get good at everything – just to try your hand at as many as possible to discover what you excel at. When you try various niches in low-stakes situations where you’re unpaid, you can see whether you sink or swim without any consequences.
Plus, when you try different niches, you’ll also learn from other, more experienced photographers in their specialty. All it takes is just a bit of humility.
Find Your Own Style Before Settling on a Niche
Prior to discovering your niche, you’ll have to determine your own artistic style. As far as professional growth goes, you usually begin your career by trying to copy the visual styles of other photographers or artists whom you admire and look up to – but only up to a point.
Then, after you have some experience under your belt, you gradually branch out and develop your own visual style. You have to. It’s just the natural way and flow of artistic growth. Once you’ve then settled on your own visual style, you’re ready to more confidently choose your niche.
Determine What Inspires You
This is a biggie. Without inspiration, you’re never going to find your niche. In other words, you have to be inspired by something to develop a love and passion for your chosen niche. So ask yourself, what inspires you?
If you just select a niche arbitrarily or because someone told you to, it’s going to be very forced and contrived. Chances are that you’ll only end up being repulsed by that arbitrary choice. With inspiration, this won’t be a problem.
Let’s say that you think you’re really a great fit for family photography, so you book your first gig, and then you find that shooting the folks in artificial poses just doesn’t live up to your expectations. You ask yourself, what went wrong? After a bit of self-examination, you realize that your inspiration comes from lifestyle shots, due to their added sense of realism.
So you go back to your family photography and then shoot the members of the family in lifestyle instead. Connecting with your inspiration within this niche, you suddenly feel that it’s so much more meaningful to you. That’s what inspiration can do for your niche-finding.
Finding That Niche, Finally
If you’re going to dabble in photography and not make a career out of it, you probably don’t need a niche. However, even if you’re just an amateur, sooner or later you’ll naturally gravitate to what you enjoy shooting (hopefully after trying lots of niches), and then you’ll eventually figure out your niche.
If you want to go professional, then having a niche is a definite must. After all, clients won’t feel confident in choosing a photographer who “specializes” in a whole range of niches. That just sounds amateurish.
With patience, experimentation and finding your own visual style beforehand, determining your niche will eventually happen for you.