Written by Nelson Ikheafe November 25, 2019
When starting out in the photography business, it’s tempting to be a jack of all trades, shooting everything that looks interesting. While this approach may get you hundreds of unique photos, it will not set you apart from the competition.
Competition is a good thing, professional photographers who have embraced the power of intense competition in stock photography have discovered the power of branding for a specific niche. A niche will help you learn and zero in on what works and what doesn’t.
What type of photography sparks your creative juices? Your passion should be an indicator of your photographic niche.
Succeeding in the crowded field of stock photography requires tenacity, a willingness to get out of your comfort zone and work. Those that have succeeded in stock photography, have discovered the power of being focused on a specific niche.
Research on different niches to find out about the competition, gather as much information as you possibly can to discover what works in the niche and what doesn’t. Gather relevant statistics about sales and market demand. This should help you come up with strategies for joining the niche.
Embracing competition also means seeking out new areas that are underserved. Look for what customers are constantly asking for, what seems to be in short supply, join photography forums listen to the hub talk. Discover where there is demand.
Photography is all about painting with light, Creative photography is an art that transcends all spheres, essentially this means that you can shoot any kind of image, your creativity is what will direct your photography business.
You cannot be an expert in landscape photography, portraits, astrophotography, weddings, food, street photography. Approaching photography creatively requires that you zero in on a specific niche, buy the right gear and practice to shoot amazing photos in this niche.
Creative photographers, don’t really have to be professional, they can be hobbyists with an eye to see what works and what doesn’t. If you are a hobbyist with a keen photographic eye, expand your knowledge level through training, courses, and practical applications, as you concentrate on your chosen niche.
What is a niche?
The business dictionary defines a market niche as
“a small but profitable segment of a market suitable for focused attention by a marketer, Market niches do not exist by themselves but are created by identifying needs or wants that are not being addressed by competitors, and by offering products that satisfy them.”
Photography has different specific niches, to discover which ones are profitable, and which ones aren’t you have to research. Study each niche in detail, and list only those niches that are of interest to you. Do you have the right gear and equipment for this niche?
Here is a list of a few niches that you can research on:
Real Estate Photography, Wedding Photography, newborns, Business, landscape Photography, Black and White Photography, Fashion Photography, Studio Photography, Street Photography Pet Photography, Photo-Journalism, Celebrity Photography, underwater Photography, Product Photography, Portrait Photography, amongst many others.
If you are a beginner starting out in photography, you will have limited knowledge about the equipment needed for specific niches. Start by learning about various types of photographic gear that will help shoot high-quality photos.
How do you identify a niche?
Your interest should lead you., Your interest, however, may not be good enough as an indicator of how profitable is. Researching about every area of your expertise to understand the market dynamics will help you settle on a profitable niche.
As we said earlier Photography is an art of painting with light, you may be good in one area and not the other, as an artist, identify areas you are good at. Proceed to do complete market research, this should direct your focus in the area that will eventually become your bread and butter.
When starting on your photographic journey, try out everything, see what works and what doesn’t, zero in on what is working. Study what prospective customers are asking for but seems to be in short supply. Are you in a position to work on meeting this demand? Do you have the required knowledge, expertise, and equipment to shoot images for this specific niche?
Before settling in one niche try out several niches to find out where your unique skills meet a demand in the market.
Challenges of niche Photography
Niche photography is a highly specialized approach to photography, it segments the industry into specific photography markets. Each market requires a specialized approach, in addition to special skills, some segments like astrophotography or insect photography require specialized equipment.
This means that no matter how passionate you are to shoot photos in a certain market, you might be limited by the availability of the right gear. Work in a niche that you have the right equipment and skills to produce high-quality images.
Your location will also determine the type of niche you can join, for example, if you live in the rural areas, you cannot shoot street photos, this, therefore, cannot be your specialty, unless you relocate to a city.
The location will also determine the type of images you can shoot, for example, you cannot shoot underwater images unless you live near a body of water. And have the right gear and scuba diving equipment.
Connect your brand to your niche
Once you have settled on a niche, prepare to ride the storms. As you go through the learning curves, you may find some months will be rough, you may be tempted to quit. Niche photography is a highly specialized photography genre that approaches a select group of buyers who may at first hesitate before committing to buying from you.
When you approach your niche with the end in mind you will stick in there for the long haul. Niche photography is a marathon and not a sprint. The easiest way to attract buyers fast is to have a wide selection of images in your niche.
Brand your images with a style template, as an individual your portfolio may not grow fast enough to stand out in the market. If you have the means you can hire other specialized photographers to shoot images that you can then post-process using your style template to retain uniformity.
If you do not have the means, build your business one brick at a time, work on your brand awareness, build your presence and don’t be in a hurry, the right buyers will eventually discover your unique talents.
Targeting a market niche is hard work, and is not for the faint-hearted, it is, however, the most rewarding and long-lasting successful way of joining this highly competitive business.
Do you want to make a stable career out of your photographic skills? Let stiff competition not derail your ambitions. Choose a niche, study the niche, roll up your sleeves and get to work, you will definitely succeed.
Photo credits: Alphaspirit, Famveldman, Ig0rzh, Indra Eka Putra, Srecko Djarmati, Physyk, Scyther5, Sean Pavone, Wisconsinart.