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Starting a Business

How to Choose Your Niche to Be a Successful Photographer

With almost two dozen specialties to choose from, here's exactly what you need to know to narrow your focus and create a successful photography business.
Image credit: Mario Gutiérrez | Getty Images

The following excerpt is from The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. and Jason R. Rich’s book Start Your Own Photography Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

The field of photography is probably more diverse than you think. Let’s look at some of the more popular photography specialties that have traditionally allowed professional photographers to earn a respectable income.

Fine art photography

Fine art photography is for the creative individual who enjoys taking pictures for their aesthetic value -- landscapes, nature, wildlife, nudes or portraits. These high-quality images are often categorized as works of art and sometimes displayed and sold in galleries, with prints reproduced in limited editions for collectors, dealers and curators. Many fine art photos also appear in books for the general public. Fine art images are sometimes printed on note cards, calendars, and posters (all potential revenue generators), although some collectors would consider those to be “inferior” products.

Photojournalism

Photojournalism is the ability to tell a story through images of a particular subject, at a specific location, or of an occasion. The photographer shoots the scenario happening around them, without interfering in any way -- in other words, no staged or formal shots. A photojournalist might be called on to shoot a crime scene, a newsworthy event, or images that’ll go along with an article being published in a newspaper, magazine or on a website, for example.

The candid style of photojournalism is also becoming popular in commercial photography and is now used regularly at events, such as weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, corporate functions, charity events or other social functions.

Related: Want a Billion-Dollar Brand? Invest in Quality Photography.

Wedding and special event photography

Wedding and special event photography is for the individual who enjoys working with people and wants to help them celebrate one of the most memorable days of their lives. Most of the work is done on location, although some photographers have studios for bridal portraits and engagement photos.

Wedding photographers typically follow a pre-created shot list, which includes a selection of carefully scripted poses for ring exchanges, cake cutting, and bouquet tossing, for example. However, wedding photojournalism -- shooting the big day emphasizing a candid documentary style of photography -- is also becoming popular.

Portraiture

Portrait photography has become a wide-ranging commercialized area because so many people enjoy having portraits made to commemorate special events like births, milestone birthdays, family reunions, weddings, anniversaries, and graduations. Besides shooting in a studio, a lot of portrait photographers will also take photographs in natural settings, such as outdoors or in the home or business of the individual.

Pet photography

People’s passion for pets has led to increased opportunities for photographers. In addition to selling traditional prints of pets, selling products featuring pet photos, such as clothing or coffer mugs, is also popular and potentially profitable. If you live in a rural area, you can opt to specialize in livestock and farm animals (like horses).

Special occasion (noncorporate) event photography

Event photography is pretty much self-descriptive. You’re capturing events as they unfold, at family gatherings, proms, political or sporting events, pet shows, school events, or business functions. However, event photography is also a very broad term, and you should narrow your specialty to no more than two or three types of events that you specialize in. The more specialized your niche is, the better.

Related: How This Artist Makes Money Off YouTube Without Brand Sponsorships

Additional niche photography fields

The following list includes information about additional photography specialties that you might choose to pursue: