Unless you live under a proverbial rock, you have likely heard from many sources that you should find your niche in the world of photography. But what is a photography niche? How do you determine yours? Do you really need one? Let’s break it down.
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What Is a Photography Niche?
A niche, in it’s simplest term, is a specialty - the thing you’re known for. If you were a baker, it might be gourmet cupcakes. If you were a carpenter, it could be handmade tables. You get the idea… A niche is a sub-category within the larger genre. For instance, you could be a wedding photographer or you could be a mountain elopement photographer. The former is the genre, the latter is the niche.
Promoting yourself within a niche market has some advantages. First of all, the market is much smaller which means you are more likely to be found by potential clients. Secondly, those clients are already looking for the specific service you offer. The difficult part is knowing where to look in the first place.
Niche photographers tend to be very particular about where they market their services because they are looking for a very specific type of client. If you are a mountain elopement photographer, then sitting at a bridal expo with dozens of other photographers and hundreds of brides-to-be probably won’t yield you much in the way of clients. But if you co-host an intimate event at a local boutique with other vendors who are also looking for the type of girl who wants to elope to the mountains, you are much more likely to find the bride you are searching for.
This type of photography definitely requires a personal touch and most clients will expect an experience that is far and above what they would get by working with a less specialized photographer. They clearly want the special treatment. That is why they seek out a specialist.
How Do I Find My Photography Niche?
Once you have determined if niche photography is the right fit for you, you have to determine what your niche will be…and that is no easy feat. Chances are that if you are currently a working photographer, you already know what you like to shoot the most. So the question then becomes, how can you set yourself apart from other photographers within your same genre?
Here is an example:
I know an incredibly talented photographer who photographs families and children. At some point, she realized that what she really loved was photographing the fantasies of childhood. So, she developed special children’s sessions, offered only a few times a year, based entirely around some fantastical theme: pirates, princesses and almost anything else your imagination can conjure. They are elaborate with props, full sets and costumes, all provided by her studio. Now, she photographs these sessions exclusively and has created an incredible photography niche market for herself.
Regardless of what you are photographing currently, what do you Love? Do you love weddings and traveling but hate large crowds? Maybe a destination elopement photography niche is right up your ally. Maybe you especially love New York and only want to photograph couples who are eloping there. Maybe you love taking portraits but you also love dogs…why not put those two together and take stunning portraits of people’s beloved fur babies? Do you love photographing families but also love the candid nature of photojournalism? Why not marry those two ideas and promote yourself as a family photojournalist?
There are any number of ways to hone in on what you really enjoy shooting. Not only will you be happier in your work, but your work will rise above the sea of other photographers who may not have a specialty.
Do You REALLY Need a Photography Niche?
All this information begs the question, “Do I really need a photography niche to be successful?”
Certainly not! Finding a niche is not for everyone and you should not feel less valuable if you decide it’s not for you. (I’m speaking from experience). Some photographers are simply interested in too many things and cannot possibly stick to just one, and that is okay.
Most freelance photographers fall into this category. They photograph whatever comes their way because they love the variety and the challenge. One week it may be family portraits and the next week it may be covering an event for a local newspaper. Freelancing is also very common when photographers are just starting out, either because they don’t know what they want to focus on yet or because they simply need to be bringing in an income. (And there is certainly nothing wrong with that!)
One last piece of advice - make sure you don't let other photographers pressure you into doing things their way. It’s awesome if a particular niche works for them, but that does NOT necessarily mean it will also work for you.
Niche or no niche, at the end of the day, your business is just that - YOURS.
Note: All of the wonderful images included in this blog article were edited with the Clean Edit Portrait Workflow Collection from Pretty Presets. This is the perfect collection for all photographers who love beautiful, clean edits.
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