What’s Your Niche? Are You Still Searching? Are You Still Learning?

I surprised a customer once when I described my “Photography Niche” or main interest of photography as being landscapes, abstract, micro and other unexplainable oddities. I also made it quickly apparent, that I’m definitely not a wedding or portrait photographer!

He was surprised, as he always assumed that all photographers shot pretty much all things… Never thinking that we each may have a specialty or favorite niche.

Have you found your Niche yet? Are you still searching or experimenting?

Don’t know yet? No problem… Continue shooting anything and everything, hone your camera skills, your computer “digital darkroom” skills, your people skills and maybe even your marketing skills if you’re looking to go professional. Just keep shooting, don’t give up. Keep experimenting, keep practicing.

The basic skills of photography apply to whatever you enjoy shooting. Apertures, shutter speeds, ISO’s, focal lengths, DOF tricks, etc. — None of that stuff changes. It’s the “nut behind the viewfinder” that makes it a photograph. Or more important, one of your photographs.

I shoot landscapes, I’ve got a different set of lens, tripods, bodies, flash, etc. than what a wedding photographer would need.

I like the solitude of hiking in the mountains, listening to my iPod, looking for great scenery. Taking the time to set up a shot, moving as needed, following the ridge/river/tree line, following the light, until it suddenly clicks into place and I take the shot… Then there’s the issue of when the mosquitos come by for a snack of course.

Or the challenge of working on my table with small items, maybe a light-box or a couple studio lights… Working on trying to get that odd idea out of my head and into my camera.

I do not like big rooms filled with people at a wedding, especially if they’re expecting me to shoot beautiful pictures of all of them. No pressure there! I don’t like trying to get someones kid or pet to cooperate so I can take their photograph. That’s just how I am. Nothing wrong with that (or me).

Just the same, I’ve met several great wedding photographers that thrive on that commotion & chaos, that sense of joy in the room, the challenge of getting those perfect shots, of being in the right place at just that right moment…

Yet, those are the same people that hate even thinking of going somewhere to shoot landscapes. They would be completely bored hanging out with me!

But we respect each others work and what it takes to get those kind of shots.

Until you discover “your niche,” keep on shooting.

Then suddenly one day, either you’ll notice, or your friends will, that not only have you found a niche you enjoy, something you seem to shoot more than anything else, but that you’ve got a style, a look even, of your own that sets you apart from other photographers.

I’ve done this with many of my fellow photographers. I know their style, their way of shooting, their way of processing the images. I can generally tell who shot that image. It’s kind of spooky when someone can look at one of my images and know that’s “A Tony Shot!”

Here’s a list of several of the more popular niches or specialties. I’ve kind of listed them in priority of my interests. Your’s may be different, but this will open more ideas for you to look into:

  • Fine art (images that someone would like to hang on their wall… which could include the next couple of categories too)
  • Landscape
  • Macro
  • Abstract
  • “Digital Art”
  • Travel
  • Nature/wildlife
  • Stock (for sale in on-line photo stock houses)
  • Architecture (many mini-niches here; bridges, residential, malls, commercial, churches, skyscrapers, parking garages)
  • Music (live events and/or band photos)
  • Events (mostly corporate events/parties)
  • Private Parties
  • Sports
  • Street Photography
  • Food
  • Product
  • Artists work (sculptures, paintings, etc. for use on their web-sites and brochures)
  • Advertising
  • Industrial
  • Interior Design/Furniture
  • Scientific Studies
  • Documentation
  • Fashion
  • Pets
  • Weddings
  • Portraits (could be high school, corporate, family or candid)
  • Photojournalism
  • Children/families
Then ask yourself — Are there any of these you’ve never thought of? Would like to try? 

Are there some you’ve tried and did not like? Why? Was it too difficult or did it just not interest you. If it was too difficult, would a variation work? Can you study to learn more?

If you were to experiment in another niche, what would you need equipment wise? Knowledge wise? Where would you find something in this niche to shoot? Could you talk to someone already doing it to learn more?

Most of you know my main thoughts in learning more about this crazy little hobby we call photography — Experiment, Practice, look at your LCD screen while you’re shooting — What do you like and not like — Why? What’s needed to make it better? Can you make changes now, or do you need to go study more and come back and try again?

And then, Experiment & Practice again.

Thanks again for coming bym

Tony D. Locke, MM

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About masterofmadness

Semi-pro photographer & musician. Co-own a photo gallery with a digital photo-lab in a small tourist town, on an island in the Pacific NW of USA. I also teach and ongoing series of workshops in photography, Photoshop and Apple computers. I shoot mostly landscapes, in the mountains - Giving me a great excuse to go climb them. I also do a lot of fine art, macros and abstracts.
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