Deciding what to choose as your photography niche and what type of photography genre you want to specialise in can be a daunting experience.
As the world has changed dramatically in the last decades, in some ways it has become a lot smaller. We are connected almost everywhere we go in the world and we can reach anyone through an app on our phone.
Though there are many sceptics who think that technology is moving too fast and that we are becoming less sociable because of it, there is no denying that it has changed businesses forever. The playing field has been levelled and small companies and the solo entrepreneur have a better chance than at any point in human history of ‘making it’.
There is no going backwards. We are moving forwards at an incredible pace.
The way to succeed is by going niche.
The narrower your niche, the less competition you will have and the more chance you will have at carving your own path in your chosen profession.
We can all agree that photography has only become more competitive in recent years, but at the same time — there is also more demand for photography, and there is more money to be made than ever before.
So taking it as a given that ‘niching’ is the way to go, how do you actually pick your niche?
If you’re like me, you might like to shoot a wide variety of photographic genres. I’ve enjoyed taking landscape images in the hills of Scotland and seascapes along the coast of Fife where I used to live.
Any photographer can probably relate to this — I get satisfaction from any genre of photography. I like to learn new things and I like to create great photos.
When a day goes well, I love it no matter what I’m shooting.
I’ve taken immense satisfaction of learning and practising the skills in all of these genres, but how did I pick one to go all in on, and exclude all others?
During the last year of my travels, I struggled to make a choice and I labelled myself as a travel photographer as a catch-all genre. It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was living in Penang, Malaysia that it suddenly hit me what I should specialise in.
We were living quite close to a National Park and I would often go into the rainforest to photograph the local nature and wildlife. There were water monitors, several species of monkeys and an abundance of butterflies and other invertebrates as well as a rich diversity of flora.
After weeks of being immersed in nature, it clicked for me then that this is the type of photography I enjoy the most. Getting close to wildlife and having experiences that I’ll remember for a lifetime, even if I didn’t get the shot I was hoping for.
I love being out in nature, and even if I don’t get any spectacular images I have an invigorating experience regardless. I love the process independent of the result.
Therein lies the distinction: do you enjoy the process?
When you’re out shooting a particular genre of photography and you don’t get a good image, how does that make you feel?
Are you happy anyways because you love to be around nature? Or people, and you’re shooting portraits and weddings? Or maybe you love studying buildings and seeing detailed architecture up close that you appreciate the day out even if all you have to show for it is a memory card full of soon to be deleted images.
This is something to pay attention to — if you’re enjoying the process of whatever you are doing, you’re more likely to keep coming back to it. That is the easiest way to stick at your niche, which is how you will improve and start to stand out as a photographer.
I think this is one of the most important factors when deciding what you want to photograph professionally.
You’ll most likely be doing it for a long time and — let’s be honest — we all know it’s not going to be award winning images after every trip out
There will be a lot of failing, learning and frustration so you need to make sure you enjoy the process of practice within your chosen niche.