How to find your photography niche?March 14, 2017
Finding your photography niche is essential if you want to be a true master of your craft. While it’s true that you don’t have to stick to just one style or genre of photography for the rest of your life, your niche should be the area that you focus on. It’s the way you set yourself apart from other photographers, develop your personal style, and craft a business that can earn you a living. So, how do you do it? Here’s our advice on finding the niche that works for you.
Don’t limit yourself to what you experiment with. When you are looking for your niche, you never know where you might find it. Perhaps you have always thought about doing architecture photography: that’s fine, and you should be sure to give it a go. But try taking portraits, documenting street life, and covering a live event too. What if it turns out your true passion lies in one of these other genres? You will never know what you enjoy until you do it for yourself. You can start by doing everything on an amateur scale – taking your camera along with you and seeing what you can get. Keep going until you find something that you really, truly enjoy doing – that doesn’t feel like work. It also helps if you feel that you have some natural talent in the area that you are working. While anyone can learn to be better at photography with practice and patience, your niche may be something that comes a lot more naturally to you and just requires some shaping and refining.
Learn from the professionals
Once you have identified at least one area of photography that you feel passionate about, it’s time to go deeper into it. Make sure that you learn from professionals who have gone before you and gained a lot of experience. You could take part in a workshop to learn directly from a master, or you could learn online or through reading books. There are plenty of great free resources you could try – for example, you can watch live webinars on Creative Live. You can also look at the websites and the photobooks of famous photographers in your niche to learn how they create their images. This will help you to understand more of what it takes to really excel in this niche. If you don’t like the work that you have to put in, then you probably aren’t looking at your niche. If it bores you already, you’re going in the wrong direction. Your niche should be something that you enjoy so much, you would be doing it for free if you couldn’t get paid.
Rinse and repeat
If you find that your passion for your niche starts to fade, or that you aren’t as great at taking photographs in this style as you wanted to be, then you have two options. You can either keep going and learning, and hope that you have just hit an early stumbling block in finding your niche. Or you can search on for a new niche that fits you better. Once you find that style that works for you, you will know it. Be aware that it’s not always something obvious. Maybe you tried portraiture and felt that you enjoyed it, but you didn’t feel that real spark. But that’s only because you didn’t go deep enough. Once you sit down with a subject that is fascinating to you, you may find that it really is your niche after all.
Specify and specialise
Finding your true niche is not about finding a broad topic – such as fashion photography, for example. There are lots of smaller niches within this topic. Some will work behind the scenes, while others like to photograph catwalks front and centre. Some like to do editorials on the streets, while others are more comfortable photographing catalogue shots on the studios. Some will create lookbooks, while others approach things with a more documentary-based style. It’s all down to experimenting until you find that specific niche which is right for you. The more specialised you are, the more in demand your services will be, as you will have less competition in the industry. For example, how many people do you suppose create runway cinemagraphs, as opposed to simply shooting a catwalk dead on centre with still images? The more you specialise, the better your niche will fit you.
Experiment and develop
The advice so far looked at traditional niches as well as following the advice and teaching of others. But once you have found your niche, it’s time to live in it. That’s when you start to get experimental and learn your own style. The rules are there so that you can learn all of the best ways to break them, and carving out your own niche will make you a truly unique photographer. Being the only person in the world to work on a specific style is very powerful, so long as that style actually works. It’s also fine to walk a path that is already well-travelled, if you can find a way to make it your own. That means developing your own techniques and trademarks which allow you to put your own stamp onto every image that you take.
Finding a niche is not about just becoming one more cookie-cutter photographer that fits neatly within the lines. There are infinite numbers of niches you could choose, and the best part is that you can create your own – you don’t have to follow the rules. Once you find your niche, you will know – your niche finds you.
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