How to Find Your Photography Niche: You Don't Have To Master It All

How to Find Your Photography Niche: You Don’t Have To Master It All

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When it comes to photography, there can sometimes be this strange assumption that we are (or should be) experts in all types of photography. Photography is essentially painting with light, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to do newborn photography, astrophotography, weddings, family portraits, landscape photography, and food photography, right? Light is light, whether it’s on a newborn or a spider, right? The simple answer is yes, and no. But, there’s good news, you don’t have to master it all. Let’s talk about how to find your photography niche.

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Different strokes for different folks

Much like a chef benefits from learning about cooking as a whole, photographers benefit from learning the fundamentals that apply across all types of photography: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, finding light, capturing movement and emotion, and focus. However, much like chefs often break off into different specialties, photographers also tend to break off into different niches. Some photographers find that they love newborns, but hate weddings (raises hand). Others love landscapes, but don’t enjoy photographing humans ever. Some photographers love to work in a studio, while others prefer to work only outdoors with natural light. Finally, some photographers prefer to shoot in digital, while others prefer film.

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Do what you enjoy

Whichever type of photography sparks your passion and fills you with joy? Do that. Whether that’s black and white portraits, lifestyle newborn images, macro photography of spiders, or architecture – do what you love.

Then when it comes to post-processing, if there’s a method that transforms your image the way that you’ve always pictured it in your head, do that. If it’s a hipster vintage wash, do it. If it’s a quick curves adjustment and nothing else, do that too. Heck, if it’s black and white with selective coloring that makes you happy when it comes to post-processing, by all means, do that.

Do it even if it isn’t cool, and no one else is doing it. Whether you consider photography to be a craft or an art, it is most certainly an opportunity to have a creative voice. And as corny as it may sound, your authentic voice, whether expressed in cooking or in photography, is important.

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It’s okay not to do it all

Just in case no one has ever told you before, it’s okay not to do it all. If you specialize in food photography and someone calls you up and asks if you’ll consider accepting a wedding booking, it’s okay to say, ‘Thank you so much for thinking of me, but no.” It’s okay to love photographing families and have absolutely zero interest in doing macro photography of insects.

Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, it’s really hard sometimes to admit that a particular area of photography isn’t your preference or your strong suit. No one wants to feel incompetent. On the other hand, there’s no shame in telling someone that you are unable to accept a newborn booking because it isn’t your specialty and consequently you aren’t familiar enough with newborn posing safety to feel comfortable with accepting that job.

Say it with me – I do not have to master it all.

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Finding your niche

If you’re reading this article and thinking, “Okay great, so how do I find my niche?’ The answer is simply to try everything you can. Trying different types of photography is very different than feeling compelled to master every type of photography. Giving different genres of photography a try in low stakes (often unpaid) environments allows you to experiment, and to discover what it is that you really love.

It also requires possibly humbling yourself a bit and allowing yourself to be taught by someone else. Even if you’re the best wedding photographer in your state or area, you may not know the first thing about being a wildlife photographer. So if you really want to learn, you have to be ready and willing to be taught.

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Benefits of trying things

My personal niche in photography is newborns and families. It’s what really makes me excited, and what I really enjoy most. However, every time that I’ve stepped outside that comfort zone, with the goal of learning about another genre of photography, it’s been worth it.

I’ve not been a master of every genre that I’ve tried, nor have I enjoyed them all, but I’ve learned something valuable in every case. When I buckled down and focused on landscape photography, it gave me an opportunity to review techniques of composition, metering, and shooting with a relatively small aperture in ways that I don’t typically use on a daily basis when it comes to people photography.

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When I made an attempt to learn about astrophotography (a genre of photography that had always greatly intimidated me) I had the opportunity to learn more about long exposures, and the technique of shooting with a wide open aperture in a different application than portraits. Are my astrophotography images perfect? Absolutely not! I’m not an astrophotography expert, and probably never will be. I have two kids, so staying up all night to photograph the stars is a special kind of sleep deprivation torture that I have no interest in repeating with any frequency.

Yet, there’s also a certain importance in taking something that you have no idea how to do and learning the steps necessary to make it happen. When all the pieces finally fall into place, and you have an image that sort of resembles the gorgeous astrophotography images that you see in magazines, it’s a pretty amazing feeling. Like creating something out of thin air.

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Conclusion

The more types of photography you try, the more you’ll find yourself saying both “Yes!” and “Nope, I don’t need to do that ever again.” You may also find that there are several types of photography that you enjoy, which is fine. When I suggest finding your niche, I’m not suggesting that you choose one photography genre and one post-processing style and stick to those for the rest of your life and career.

Your niche in the photography world should grow, shrink, and evolve over time. Give yourself the freedom to identify the types of photography that you really enjoy, and forget the rest of it. You do not have to master it all.

What’s your photography niche? What types of photography do you love? Are there any types of photography that you hate? Chime in below!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Meredith Clark is a wife, mother, native Oregonian, complete bookworm, Top Chef lover, and new quilting addict. She believes that photography is for everyone - it is a gift that allows us to capture and document both ordinary and extraordinary moments in our lives. You can see more of her work at Meredith Clark Photography or connect with her on Facebook.

  • I do food photography (which I love) for work, but my ultimate dream gig is wildlife photography and nature. Now if I could find a way out of the kitchen and into the woods…a woman can dream…
    Thanks for the encouraging words.

  • Jan Bolders

    Babies definitely not and rarely children :-((

    Give me a spider, slug, gnarly old tree or landscape any day!
    Thanks for a great article.

  • Eileen Thompson

    Thank you for this really useful article …. there’s me been thinking I need to master everything and over-burdening myself because I’m so keen to improve and make ‘good’ pictures …. I know I’m better at some things than others and now I know that even the best photographers can’t be a genius at all genres …. simple, but I didn’t see it!

  • Ed

    Good article, nice to know others feel the same. I found my niche by another means, I looked at the last 3000 photos, broke them down into categories and found I did way too many of one, then realized that was what I really liked to do. Long process but it worked for me.

  • Jim Grittner

    Thank you for this article. It is the first article (to date) that I have read that tells photographers basically. “slow down, it’s OK to not know it all. discover your specialty, discover your love and go with the flow” I’ve been trying to tell my friends this for years.

  • Excellent article. And I think it should be e-commerce, wedding or newborn photography depending on the money one can make.

  • This article is really influence me to be a Photographer. Actually, I am a photo retouch’er and working for CCI, but I like photography. This is awesome article. Anybody here tell me to learn photography from online?

  • This article is really influence me to be a Photographer. Actually, I am a photo retouch’er and working for with Clipping Creations India, but I like photography. This is awesome article. Anybody here tell me to learn photography from online?

  • bonnie.maselli

    One yr ago I decided to resign from my office job and that decision was a life-changer for me… I started freelancing online, for this company I stumbled upon over internet, for several hours each day, and I profit now much more than i did on my last work… My last month payment was for 9 thousand dollars… Great thing about it is that i have more time with my kids… http://korta.nu/MDe

  • If you really want to excel in photography, you need to find your own Photography Niche and focus on being the best you can be.

  • tina.muro

    It’s been one year since I decided to quit my old job and i couldn’t be happier now… I started to work at home, over a website I stumbled upon over internet, several hours a day, and I earn much more than i did on my last job… Last paycheck i got was for 9000 bucks… Great thing about it is that i have more free time for my kids… http://korta.nu/MDe

  • nikki.cook.92

    1 year have passed since I finally quit my previous work and it changed my life… I started to work over internet, for a company I found online, few hrs each day, and I make much more than i did on my last job… My pay-check for last month was for 9k… Amazing thing about it is that now i have more time for my kids… http://chilp.it/8d93f4b

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