Finding Your Photography Niche: Why (and How) You Should Do It

If you had an important business client coming to town, and you knew that she loves sushi, (thanks, Instagram!) where would you take her to dinner? The all-you-can eat buffet that serves sushi–but also vats of chocolate pudding and mashed potatoes? Or the little authentic Japanese place downtown that rolls the sushi right in front of you? 

It’s a no-brainer, right? You’d take her to the place that does sushi best. Well, the same concept applies to your photography business.

You might be able to shoot in multiple styles. You might even be pretty good at more than one style. (Most photographers are!) But if you want to really grow your business, narrowing your focus and finding your photography niche is a must. Here’s why–and how–to do that.

You’ll reach the clients you want

Clients hire photographers for a very specific reason: They’re looking for a wedding photographer, a newborn photographer, or a senior portrait photographer, for example. They want a specialist. If someone’s thinking about hiring you for their wedding, they won’t care that you’ve also photographed everything from sportscars to sports stars. They want to know: “Will this photographer get the shots that matter on my wedding day, and do I like this photographer’s style?” So, if weddings are primarily what you shoot, and what you want to do more of, send a clear message to potential clients by marketing yourself as a wedding photographer, not as a wedding/sports/newborn/family/senior/landscape/food photographer. 

Clients hire photographers for a specific reason. They want a specialist.

You’ll improve your website’s SEO

Narrowing your focus will do wonders for your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), too. Finding your photography niche will help you choose specific, helpful keywords to use on your website, blog, and other materials to grab those Google searchers. For example, “Dallas lifestyle photographer” isn’t very specific, and people aren’t really Googling for “lifestyle photographers” (back to our point above about clients hiring photographers for a specific need). But plenty of people are searching for “Dallas newborn photographer” or “Dallas pet photographer.” Using targeted keywords like these will help you snag those searchers and bring them to your site.

You’ll become more profitable

If you take a minute and think of “the” senior portrait photographer, or “the best” children’s photographer in your area, I bet it doesn’t take long for a few names to bubble to the top of your mind. And why is that? Because those people have focused on a specific market, and earned a reputation for being exceptional at what they do. When your business and brand become linked in people’s minds to a certain type of photography, people will start reaching you, and requesting your services. They will be willing to invest more in what they perceive as (and what of course, is) a higher quality product.

Reaching the clients you want, boosting your SEO, and making more money… sounds great, right? But how do you even begin to narrow your focus as a photographer? 

Find out what types of photography excite you

It’s hard to narrow your focus if you’ve only ever shot one type of photography. What if there’s a style of photography that you would really enjoy, but you’ve never even tried it? If you’re a newer photographer, now is the time to experiment and try out as many styles as you can. If you’ve never photographed a wedding, ask if you can second-shoot one for a colleague or mentor in the business. Volunteer to photograph your friends’ kids. Take a class on nature photography. Pay special attention to what kinds of photography excite you, and what you enjoy. Those are the keys to finding your niche. You can always improve your skills in a certain area, but if you don’t enjoy the subject you’re shooting, that’s much harder to change.

You can always improve your skills, but if you don’t enjoy the subject you’re shooting, that’s harder to change.

Think about the type of clients you want to work with

Most professional photographers spend a good portion of their time working with people–not only during shoots, but also emailing, calling, and meeting in person. So it’s important to think about the types of people you want to work with. Take a moment to imagine your ideal client. Not a group of people, but one specific person. You can even give this dream client a name. Let’s call ours “Jane.” What is Jane’s personality like? What are her needs? If Jane is a mom who wants classic, styled photos of her kids, that might point you toward the niche of children’s portraits. If Jane owns an outdoor goods company, and she needs shots of people climbing mountains, you might think about honing in on marketing and landscape photography.

Consider your lifestyle

Photography isn’t just an art form, it’s a business and a lifestyle. It’s not a 9-5 job, especially if you’re shooting events like weddings. So before committing to a certain genre, consider how it might impact your and your family’s life. Not many people get married at 11:00 on a Tuesday morning, so if you want to be a wedding photographer, you’ll have to be willing to work, travel, and be away from home most weekends. On the flip side, if you love being outdoors and traveling, working full-time as a studio portrait photographer might feel a little restrictive. 

With so many types of photography, there is a style to fit your skills, personality, interests, and lifestyle–you just need to find it. That’s the fun part! And best of all, your niche isn’t permanent. It can expand and evolve with you, as you grow in your art and business. 

Readers, how did you find your niche as a photographer? Let us know below!

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