We like niches. With entry into paid photography now as simple as buying a decent DSLR (as well as a willingness to practice, an understanding of the market and, of course, a love of the art), selling images has never been more competitive.
Creating your own specialty — or specialties, because you can have more than one niche — lets you stand out from the crowd. It positions you as an expert and helps you to win the lion’s share of the demand for those types of photographs.
We’ve put together a list of 21 niches that you’ve probably never considered. We’re not saying that there’s a market for these items — you can look into that yourself. Nor are we saying that each or any of these niches would suit you.
What we are saying is that attaching your name to a small, specific area can help make your marketing a great deal easier. If none of these niches suits you, try taking just a short step sideways to see if the next niche along matches you better.
1. Your Street
Street photography isn’t so much a niche as a genre, but while there are plenty of photographers taking pictures of streets, no one knows your street better than you. Or your neighborhood. Lots of people in your area would want beautiful photographs of places they consider their own, and there’s no shortage of local stores likely to want to stock your postcards, books and calendars. At the very least, you’d get to be a local hero.
Just as you can restrict street photography to one street, so you can confine food photography to one type of food. Cakes are a good place to start. You’ll need to get the techniques right to stop them melting under the lights, and find the best shots to make them look the most tempting. Once you’ve got that figured out, you should be seen as a reliable source of dessert imagery. And the post-shoot eating will be fun too.
One alternative to shooting a street is to head to your park. There are all sorts of subjects to photograph there, from Frisbee throwers to frisky squirrels. Again, as long as there’s a demand for these sorts of images, you can generate income by positioning yourself as a reliable supplier.
A niche doesn’t have to be a subject — a mood can work too. Smiling faces are pretty popular on stock sites but images that express success might sell well too. How many ways can you think of to shoot a winner?
Ideally, a niche should be small enough to have few competitors but broad enough to have lots of buyers. One way to increases the chances of enjoying that fortunate situation is to base your images on a word with multiple meanings. Images of construction, for example, could be perfect for the building industry but they could also fit anyone looking for photographs that depict growth and development. That’s one specialty with plenty of different buyers.
There’s always going to be demand for images of the latest gadgets, and with new products coming out all the time, there should also be a steady stream of clients wanting the pictures taken. Branding yourself in this niche wouldn’t be easy, but if you can make it work, the commissions should be regular.
Actually, we could have said any animal species but butterflies are colorful, pretty and if you can get them to sit still, fun to photograph. You’d probably want to steer clear of cats, dogs and other furry friends that are found everywhere — there are just too many freebies around to make the sales easy. Again though, if you can become known as an expert in photographing a particular type of creature, whether that’s a butterfly or a wildebeest, you should land those jobs whenever they crop up.
8. Children Playing
Like shots of the street, lots of people take pictures of children so specialize in one thing that children like to do. That could be enjoying parties or being with family. Playing is general enough to give you flexibility but still narrow enough to make you look special. It’s all about taking a new approach to a subject that’s already in demand.
Together, of course, minorities make up a majority but companies like GoGo Images are carving out a niche for themselves by focusing on ethnic groups. Pick yours, and shoot.
Or specialize by age. If there’s a market for images of children, there might well be a way of selling photograph of senior citizens. Again, you could specialize further by only taking pictures of old folk doing young things.
…or any other model of car. Car photographers are common; people who understand and are crazy about one particular type of car are special. You can be special too.
12. Infra-red Photography
A technique can be a type of niche as well. Infra-red photography will require some unique tools to create a particular effect but if you can master them — and understand where to sell them — you can master that market.
Sometimes, something you see around you every day can be a niche. Martin Waugh, for example, has made a career out of photographing water sculptures. What could you do with water that he hasn’t?
Perhaps you could toss in a handful of sand. If a photographer has taken the lead with a technique on one medium, try applying that technique to a different medium. The pool might be full, but as far as we know, the sand pit is empty.
You don’t have to beat your head against the wall to come up with niche ideas. You could just try something different with a popular subject. Everyone likes taking pictures of reflections. What can you do with a reflection that no one has thought of?
You could do the same thing with leaves. Backlighting to expose the veins is a bit old hat, but coloring them, arranging them or printing on them could all give you your own unique touch.
Having a signature color could work too. The artist Yves Klein did it with blue. You could choose your own tone to mark your period — and to mark your work out from others’.
18. Student Bands
You can think of this as “children playing” for grown-ups if you like. People tend to break naturally into groups, whether those are groups of baseball players, Goths or musicians. Pick one group — student bands would do — check whether there’s a market for those sorts of images, and find your subjects.
19. Church Groups
Church groups, for example, could work very well too. And the best thing about these sorts of niches is that they come with built in referral networks. Win one gig, and you should find that lots more come in quickly.
Being nuts isn’t usually a good career choice but when you take a wild approach to your photographs, you can give them a very unique look. Chuck Anderson’s mixture of photographs and multi-colored Photoshopping, for example, has won him commissions from clients as big as Nike and Nokia.
And you can also specialize in certain kinds of venues. Theaters tend to need pictures of their plays to include in programs and publicity material. Fairs could work too, as well as parades, beach events and anywhere else you like to go on the weekend.
Whichever niche you choose to specialize in, whether it’s one of our suggestions or an idea of your own, take the time to check out the market and master the skills. Get it right and it should get you a name and a steady income stream.
[tags] photography niche [/tags]