Once amateur photographers decide to go pro, their next step is learning how to develop a photo niche. Specialized images focused on specific topics typically sell better and faster with private clients and in stock photography markets. With the wave of citizen journalism sweeping America, it makes sense to focus on niche markets.
Get Your Niche On
Obviously, photographers love to take pictures. While many are content to use their skills as a hobby or an artistic outlet, many others long to make a living doing the thing they love most. Niche photography is one way to turn a picture-snapping hobby into a career, but most people don't know how to get started. As defined by Merriam-Webster, "niche" means: "a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted." You've just taken the first baby step into getting your niche on by understanding exactly what the term means.
How to Develop a Photo Niche Step-by-Step
Developing a niche in photography is actually easy, but making it successful is the tricky part. As in most career fields, it takes know-how, business sense and technique to turn talented photographic artists into successful niche photographers. The sections below offer long-term planning options for becoming a niche photographer:
Interest and Affinity
Although they don't always go hand-in-hand, it's important to figure out the areas of photography in which you excel and feel the most amount of passion. Choosing more than one field to study boosts the chance of building a successful photography career. However, it's best to remain focused and not spread your attention too thin.
After you've pinpointed a niche market or two, study all aspects of the field,,such as competition, sales, markets and expenses. Become familiar with the success (or failure) stories provided by photographers who chose the same field. Learn how they succeeded and model your business plan accordingly. At the same time, try to discover why some photographers failed and avoid taking similar steps. Most niche photographers are eager to share the details of their career ventures. While you're studying your field, stay educated about emerging technologies related to photography in general.
Style and Craft
Style evolves over a lifetime of taking photographs. By using techniques that feel comfortable and produce fantastic images, your own style will develop the more you use your camera. Don't be afraid to let the evolution of style influence the way you work. Rather than change the look of your photos, style evolution adds layers of craftsmanship, which improves your images.
Business Sense and Marketing
Photography is so enjoyable that it's easy to forget you're running a business at the same time. Become an entrepreneur and expand your professional sense of business by taking courses, studying literature, developing a business plan and learning the nuances of your market. When you're ready to begin, you'll know how to target your clientele, market your wares and operate efficiently. Always be ready to sell yourself by letting your business grow by reputation.
Portfolio and Publishing
Choose images that best cater to your niche when you're building your portfolio. If you're pursuing more than one field, create portfolios for each area of interest rather than having one all-encompassing collection. Potential clients want to view examples related to their industry when choosing a photographer. Also, don't forget to update your existing portfolio with the images your clients purchase and publish. Publishing credits go a long way toward establishing your business.
Possible Niche Markets
Now that you know how to develop a photo niche, it's time to consider your options. In addition to the tried and true niches like wedding photography, large format wall portraits, nature/wildlife and children/babies, the niches below are gaining a hefty following:
- Science and Medical
- Fine Art
- Dolls and Toys
- Commercial (advertising)
- Real Estate
Along with the technical and business elements, learning how to develop a photo niche is part intuition and part common sense. You want your enterprise to succeed, but remember to take risks and toss the rules out the window occasionally. It might take a bit of trial and error to create a successful niche, but no other industry holds the promise of making a lucrative and enjoyable career like the world of photography.