Photography is defined as “the art process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or an optical sensor).” Within this large umbrella of a term, there are endless subdivisions, usually indicated by the subject of the image. Some examples of these sub divisions (or niches) are boudoir, wedding/engagement, fashion, art, formal portraiture, landscape, news, and sports photography. Some of these overlap more than others; for example, many wedding photographers also shoot boudoir sessions before the wedding, and engagement shoots can be considered formal portraiture.
These photographers can be divided based on technical skills or stylistic preferences, where a wedding photographer may have mastered natural light, needing only a reflector to get the shot they are looking for, a fashion photographer may have a better handle on shoots using multiple strobes lights, light meters, and backdrops.
Although many photographers find different niches appealing, honing in on specific ones can be beneficial for a photographer’s business.
Find Out What You Are Best At
From a business standpoint, marketing yourself as a wedding photographer requires a very different set of techniques, skills, and an entirely different portfolio than if you were to pursue the fashion photography market. Think of it in terms of sports: an athlete can play baseball and basketball, but ultimately he (or she!) is probably better suited for one or the other. This is where some personal reflection may come in: what is it that you are best at? What is it that you enjoy the most about a certain type of photography? Unfortunately, there is little advice that can be given by someone else regarding these questions. Ultimately it is a personal endeavor and no one can decide what you enjoy most but yourself.
One way that photographers can elicit the help and guidance of friends however is by asking for portfolio reviews. See which images friends, fellow photographers, and peers think are the strongest in your portfolio. If you notice a trend, this is probably indicating a skill or knack you have within a certain niche.
Some photographers do manage to pursue multiple niches. One technique to help with the complicated issue of marketing/self-branding for two different types of photography is to separate the two bodies of work, maintaining two websites or blogs that highlight different aspects of the portfolio; one could focus on news photography and the other on formal portraiture. This way, you can have more control of what potential clients see (you can make sure your potential wedding clients don’t just end up browsing your travel photos). This control can be essential in landing clients, and helps to develop trust between the photographer and their potential subjects.
What Photography Niches Exist?
In an effort to help narrow down the options, over the next few weeks we will delve into some of these niches, specifically fashion, news, stock photography, and formal portraiture. By identifying some of the biggest challenges one might face trying to break into each niche, these articles will hopefully help guide you closer to your personal specialization.
Fashion photography is considered one of the most competitive types of photography to get in to. Despite the misconception that all fashion photographers incessantly jet set around the world, fashion photography is very hard work involving strong self-promotion skills. It can be glamorous and rewarding, however there are many difficulties breaking into the glitz of the fashion world.
See more: Photography Niches: Fashion
Formal portraiture is another niche which, although less glamorous than fashion photography, allows the photographer to interact with people. From family photos to high school graduation portraits, formal portraiture is a vast and competitive photography niche with dozens of studios in small towns and large cities across the country.
See more: Photography Niches: Formal Portraiture
News photography is exhilarating and can be dangerous. For those interested in current events or politics, this niche can have rewarding benefits, allowing photographers to help bring about social change. News photography can take many different forms, and some photographers even blend street photography or street fashion with news, creating a more personal, portrait-like image.
See more: Photography Niches: Photojournalism
Stock photography is ubiquitous and for many can seem trite or redundant. However these images can generate quite a bit of money. Paid on a per usage basis, stock photography usually doesn’t produce large sums of money. However there is a constant need for it to fill the pages of magazines or websites, and so small amounts of money can come in rather frequently. Some photographers shoot images specifically for this use, however photographers can also simply upload images they create for other purposes to a searchable database where people can download the images for a fee.
See more: Photography Niches: Stock