You’ve heard the phrase, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” but have you ever stopped to think about how that applies to your photography? If you haven’t heard this particular figure of speech, I may just be aging myself. It’s talking about a person that has done a little of this-and-that but hasn’t taken the time to become an expert in any one thing. Often and especially with new photography business owners, I find that we as an industry are willing to photograph anything. Could that be hurting our business? And if so, how do we find our photography niche? Let’s explore together!
We all know that a photographer is someone who uses a camera (or a phone) to take pictures. Within this broad umbrella, there is a bunch of photography subgenres known as “niche markets.” By choosing your niche, you’re defining whether you will be a wedding photographer, a newborn photographer, a product photographer, or one of the multitudes of other photography genres in the field today. Niching is about focusing your business and every area of it so that you’re the go-to expert for your exact ideal client. Niching means that when your ideal client finds your website, connects with you in person on via email, they will be all kinds of excited that they found you!
I have a question for you. Do you typically go to an Italian restaurant to order a BBQ sandwich or a famous pizza place to order an egg roll? Of course you don’t. You likely go to a specific restaurant for their specialty. Everything about that establishment has been designed around two things: a specific cuisine and their target market. In the same way, we should approach our photography business the same way. When we niche down, a few amazing things happen. Firstly, we can begin to speak directly to them in the way that we market our products and services which attracts the exact type of client we want to work with. Next, with focused efforts on your niche, your skills will continue to improve. When you begin to perfect your craft, this will be the area of photography that you’ll be known for in your area. Not only will this create a sense of trust with your potential clients, like you’ll learn all about in this previous blog post, but you’ll be considered an expert in your niche and because you’ve made it known that you’re committed to providing excellent service and work in your field of photography, you’ll be able to raise your prices and settle into a more sustainable business model. Instead of being the “Everything Photographer”, people will see your passion and notice your talent and then remember you for THAT THING!
As a photography business owner, we should all make it a priority to truly understand our cameras and how adjusting the settings will affect the product. This should be at the top of your “to-do” list if you haven’t mastered these skills yet, it will truly be a game-changer in your business.
Once you have mastered those techniques, you’ll start to realize that specific settings sometimes vary widely between niches. Although you may be a natural in one genre, another may require extra practice or even additional equipment to master. Finding the right niche for you (and your photography business) gives you a particular area to hone your skills. Having a niche also allows you to develop your marketing strategy to build your business successfully. The smaller your niche, the easier it will be to find your audience. I heard a saying years ago that has proved true for me and many I’m met along the way in all areas of business and life. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one. Keep that little nugget in your back pocket.
Start with one photography niche to master first, then begin adding on other areas of interest. Not only can you choose between live or still subjects, but then within those, you can explore fashion/model headshots, sports/action, aerial photography, wildlife/birds, macro photography, weddings/events, portraits, family/ infant photography, black and white, and even abstract photography. The possibilities are almost endless. Here are some of the more popular photography niche markets:
If you’re starting as a photographer, it is a good idea to try a little of everything. Since you’re likely building your portfolio anyway, try your hand at a variety of sessions to get some experience under your belt. If people aren’t lining up to hire you for food photography, but it interests you, pursue it yourself and add it to your portfolio. Offer a few free sessions to your friends and families to be your models to boost your family photography portfolio. Soon, you’ll start to notice the sessions that you are the most excited about or even the ones that are more natural for you to photograph.
As you’re photographing, make a mental note of what brings you the most joy and just really lights you up! If you’re going to make a career out of something, you should love it. Just because you love photography doesn’t mean you have to like all niches, either. You may find you love capturing the awe and wonder of the world seen through a child’s eyes while the long day of shooting wedding tires you out just thinking about it. Capturing animals in their natural habitat may bring you contentment and joy. Macro photography may bore you, but the crisp stark contrasts in black and white photography might inspire you. The great thing is you don’t have to like it all, and you don’t have to spend energy in areas that don’t pique your interest. Follow what sparks that joy in you and develop your skill in those areas. When you niche down and focus fully on all facets of that one niche, your photography business will flourish.
Okay, how about a little quiz? If you are truly going to start a photography business in your chosen niche, you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions. Be completely honest with yourself and don’t shy away orr you may find that you are hindering your potential for success:
Just thinking about it, do you already find a common theme that keeps coming up? You might just lean into that!
It seems scary to narrow down in your business thinking not only will you be limiting your clients but may also be limited to what you can shoot, who you can work with etc,. You may think it’ll be boring and doing the same thing over and over will become mundane. Does this sound like anything you’ve thought when it comes to this the topic of niching?
Let’s talk about this for a second because the overall goal here is to be successful and to have a successful business. We never approach anything new or with a renewed perspective with the goal of failure. So, my question to you is this: How do you define success? For me, I measure success with the joy I bring through my work with my talents, how much time my photography and coaching business can afford me with those I love, and the experiences I can enjoy with them. If developing the skills required to be known as an expert in any niche means that I can raise my prices….and I’m here to tell you that it does…then, I’d prefer niching to trying to appeal to everyone anyway! Keep in mind that by making more, you’ll get to work less which increases the time you get to spend with loved ones and doing other things that interest you! Are you getting excited yet? I hope so!
When I decided to niche in newborns, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that if I only ever shot newborns for the rest of my career, I not only could do it, but that I would be over the moon thankful to! My entire goal became to learn the techniques with every single aspect of growing and running a newborn photography business. As the years have past, I realized that it’s connections with people that matter the most! When it comes to my clients my ultimate goal is to connect with them, find out how to best serve them and deliver a specialized and custom end product. If I didn’t niche, I would find it difficult to deliver a fully custom experience that’s based on education, experience and an entire business directed towards speaking to and serving my ideal client.
Learning skill and technique is always beneficial for growth, even if you don’t necessarily continue pursuing a particular avenue. Dive in and practice as much as you can in as many photography niches as you can. The old saying, “practice makes perfect” rings true. Practice will grow your experience and develop that skill that will define who you are as a photographer. Learning is limitless. It’s possibilities never stop, so soak it all in. Finding your niche is about discovering what makes you happy, and what makes you excited to use your skill. After all, another old saying is true, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.
If you need help narrowing down your niche, be sure to talk with a photography mentor! As a photography mentor as well as a photography podcast host, I enjoy helping photographers build a successful photography business. Let’s build your dream together!
I invite you to join our Free Sisterhood on FB where we support each other as busy photographer moms and are passionate about up-leveling our photography businesses and building our dreams!
I’ll see you there!
p.s. Before you go, if you’re looking for ways to market your photography business and get a booked calendar, download your copy of 15 Marketing Secrets, here!
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Photography business coach and award-winning newborn photographer, Destiny Tillery, provides step-by-step instruction to IPS photography as well as other essential photography business tools to help your business thrive.
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