How to find your niche in photography.

October 29th, 2021
macro image of stamens and spots on lily

Early on in my photography career, I knew that I wanted to be a full-time photographer. However, I soon realized the shooting style that appealed to me and inspired me the most didn’t fall under the umbrella of mainstream photography services. As much as this presented natural limitations, it also opened the door to limitless potential. Without realizing it at the time, I had set myself up for success because of my inclination to follow a very specific vision. My photography was organically transformed into a niche photography business and what would follow were opportunities beyond anything I had thought was possible. 

pregnant woman with partner
Maternity – Photo credit: Wild Orchard Studios Photography

What is a Niche?

A niche is a powerful way to express creativity and authenticity while appealing to like-minded people who understand and appreciate your unique identity. As a photographer, defining one’s style and being true to one’s vision is extremely valuable. Creating a look and brand that appeals to a specific consumer that’s searching for a specialized product or service is the magic behind building a niche photography business. 

For example, a client who’s searching for a product photographer to help elevate their brand will likely gravitate towards someone whose portfolio shines a unique light on product photography and speaks a similar language. Chances are the same client won’t be as drawn to a sports photographer who’s been in the business for decades and is very talented, yet does not relate to the same visual, tangible and very specific outcome as someone who’s worked to perfect a specialized craft, look and service. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the ​​essential meaning of niche is “the situation in which a business’s products or services can succeed by being sold to a particular kind or group of people”.

bride and groom kissing at altar
Wedding – Photo credit: Allison Meder
michigan avenue with purple lights
Cityscape – Photo credit: Taylor McGregor, thisistaylor.com
woman in vintage swimsuit and red accessories
Retro Boudoir – Photo credit: Janette Valentine

How Do I Find My Niche?

If the work you’re doing right now is not creatively fulfilling, then it’s never too late to change your direction, or simply start to think about what appeals to you most.  While it might not be easy to start shooting something totally new or rebranding your current business, it is worth exploring different outlets to hone in on your photography niche. 

If spending time with people makes you light up inside, you might begin your journey as a portrait photographer, for example. However, what will set you apart from the competition is offering specialized portraits in your style. For you, this might be motherhood and maternity portraits, or working with musicians. Experiment and see where you find the most joy and creative expression. When you inject your own approach into your work, you appeal to the right audience and in turn, the right audience finds you! 

double exposure of rocky river and clouds
Landscape – Photo credit: Rich Voltz

Not sure that you can clearly define your niche right now? Follow these tips to get started!

  1. Explore, experiment, and absorb new concepts. In essence, allow yourself to create without self-imposed limitations and the results will surely surprise you. 
  2. Describe what you truly enjoy and what motivates you about photography.
  3. Start by trying out different styles at an amateur level and consider shadowing a fellow photographer and/or taking classes and workshops. 
  4. If you find a style that suits you, practice with patience as you refine your technique. This is a great time to offer portfolio building sessions for free or at reduced rates while you get up to speed. 
  5. Look at the big picture, then hone in on the details that speak to you the most. For example, if you’re interested in fashion photography, think about what aspect has inspired you the most, whether it’s catalog, beauty, or more edgy editorial work.
  6. Ask yourself what you’d like to be known for. 
  7. Take a good look at the work you’re shooting now and ask yourself if it’s fulfilling. Finding your niche can elevate your experience as a photographer and doing what truly moves you will make work feel like a playground every day!

mother and father holding son and daughter
Family – Photo credit: Wild Orchard Studios Photography

The benefits of being a niche photographer.

It’s absolutely common to want to please everyone and appeal to a broad audience, especially when starting in the business. Sooner or later, many of us may realize that we are not everyone’s photographer and not everyone is our client. 

In my experience, I found my niche in portrait photography and I learned early on that offering family and event photography in addition to portraits was forcing me to spread myself too thin. Jack of all trades, master of none? You bet! Upon delivering client images I couldn’t help but notice that although everyone received a quality product, I was able to see where my abilities shined. This realization led to my interest in pursuing my niche as a retro pin-up/boudoir photographer and it proved to be a great success! Although I may have felt that I was turning my back on potential opportunities or possibly limiting my client base, I quickly learned that my niche clientele was growing exponentially. As I continued to focus my efforts on branding my business and aligning it with my creative vision, I began attracting the clients I truly wanted to work with. 

By creating content and putting out work that spoke to a smaller sector of the market I was able to connect with clients who understood me. These clients would eventually return and refer my services to their friends and family who already knew what to expect if they hired me as their photographer. My clients were willing to pay my prices and never undervalued my work because they “got it” and they “got me.” More importantly, I understood them.

two people sitting on stairs
Fine Art Portrait – Photo credit: Rich Voltz
greens with onion and cheese
Food – Photo credit: Rich Voltz
woman in lace dress
Fashion – Photo credit: Janette Valentine

If you’ve been on the fence about trying out new styles of photography and would like to explore what category your niche falls into, here’s a list of some popular types of photography to help you along the way.

Portrait Photography:

  • Headshot and brand photography
  • Boudoir photography
  • Fine Art Portrait photography
  • Wedding photography
  • Maternity/Motherhood
  • Newborn photography
  • Senior photography
  • Family photography
  • Fashion photography
  • Pet photography

Event and Volume photography:

Outdoor Photography: 

  • Architectural photography
  • Macro photography
  • Street photography
  • Cityscape photography
  • Photojournalism
  • Landscape photography
  • Wildlife/Nature photography

Commercial photography:

dog wearing floral crown
Pets – Photo credit: Janette Valentine

What’s your passion?

When you do what you love and can earn a respectable income or perhaps supplement your current income with your talents, work will be so much more effortless and rewarding! Photography is a widely diverse field and so are the specialties that fall under the umbrella of photography. One of the most important aspects to consider in deciding which photography niche fits you and your photo business like a glove will require you to do some soul-searching and ask yourself – Where does my passion lie? How do I create a niche photography business I truly believe in? 

Perhaps it’s time to narrow your focus and envision yourself talking the talk and walking the walk. Whatever your chosen path, you will surely know and grow from the process, and ultimately create your successful niche photography career

Janette has been capturing memorable moments from behind her lens since 2005. Her work has included founding South Florida’s first vintage pin-up photo studio, as well as working with clients like The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, TLC, Chewy.com, and has had work featured in publications like Decibel and Rolling Stone magazines. Janette is currently living in North Carolina and explores new creative outlets in analog photography, videography, and music while providing Customer Support for Zenfolio.

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