Photography Niches You Never Considered

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.

2. Cakes
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.

3. Parks
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.

4. Success
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?

5. Construction
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.

6. Technology
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.

7. Butterflies
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.

9. Minorities
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.

10. Seniors
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.

11. Mustangs…
…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.

13. Water
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?

14. Sand
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.

15. Reflections
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?

16. Leaves
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.

17. Blue
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.

20. Psychedelia
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.

21. Theater
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]

16 comments for this post.

  1. Angela Said:

    This is great - While it is especially pertinent to photography, I think it applies to all forms of communication you are trying to market.

  2. Danielle Says Hello Said:

    I always enjoy seeing your blog light up in my Google Reader with a new post. I learn some great information each and every time!!! I have recently begun exploring 'reflections', however I can't help myself and mostly photograph the eyes of birds...I don't know why...and I feel certain not many are interested in that...however, I am always amazed at how colorful they are and how they change during mating season. Anyway, thanks for all your great information.

  3. Chica Said:

    Very cool list, several things I would never have thought of, nice! I do a lot of reflection stuff with marbles, so I'm glad I'm continuing that. 🙂

  4. esvl Said:

    "1. Your Street"

    I like that one the most. I mean how many people could be blogging about a small place at a time. And yet people look for it.

  5. Henrik Said:

    An inspirational list. I have to look over this list from time to time.

  6. Kynn Said:

    I'm a little troubled by the "minorities" entry on this list (and also "seniors"). Surely you're not assuming that you're writing just for a non-minority audience here, are you?

    Because a lot of people do take pictures of people of color without it being some sort of obscure niche.

    It's true that many white people won't photograph people of color (except for the ubiquitous downtrodden homeless POC) and that's a problem, but I think there's a danger in presenting human beings as being on the same level as "leaves" or "butterflies" as far as photography subjects.

    I suggest some more thinking on this particular topic including overall racial representation in photographic images.

    It's not like photographing people of color is such a crazy, out-there concept that nobody could possibly have considered it before reading this post about supposedly profitable niches -- except that, sadly, for many privileged white photographers, it may very well be a startling concept for them. People of color in my pictures? Woah! Mindblowing!

  7. Crimson Said:

    As much as I completely understand and appreciate the above comment, I just wanted to add, that I didn't perceive it "that" way! Please take no offense!

    To quote.... "companies like GoGo Images are carving out a niche for themselves by focusing on ethnic groups." It says thats what THAT company is doing!

    "Pick yours"...meaning, pick a minority... it doesn't say it has to be a group or race... I feel it says to just "THINK" up a minority on your own... use your imagination even...

    I think of things in minority and it could be as simple as who still wears bell bottoms....
    But thats just my thought on it...

  8. Matthias Said:

    An inspiration list yes, but once published, no more niches ....

  9. Andrew Said:

    having read this i was curious to know was their a niche for creating art from photos
    this is something i currently do as well as specializing in candid and portraiture street photography,nature etc etc

  10. tyna Said:

    I love the list,it actually got me thinking since am still in photography school might as well find my niche now.

  11. Adam Said:

    I always thought a studio that specialized in dealing with the mentally and physically handicapped could do really well. I am sure there are some out there but I don't know of any.

  12. Freebornman Said:

    I really love street photography but cutting that down to one focus happening in or around the stret is a cool idea

  13. Rudy Said:

    Great ideas. As a painter I think pictures of Minorities, Ethnic, Seniors are more about texture, shading, maybe color and diversity. Most everything we see in media is pretty, smooth, perfect, contrived, does not require much thinking. Photograph whomever is available to you and will allow you, if you feel it is worthwhile art.

  14. paul blute Said:

    Kynn man, stop taking things so seriously and get a life, the man is just making suggestions to try and help people with their photography for heavens sake, and as he specified there are commercial agencies who specialise in this, he did not mention people of color either he mentioned minorities, this could range from gypsies,inuits,aboriginals,native americans,jewish, you yourself are labelling your race ,if you are a person of color, as a minority I dont really see people of color as a minority these days they are a large part of our modern society fulfulling lots of important roles including running for president. you dwell too much on what people think of you thus attracting those thoughts even more, better to think of all the positive things thus reinforcing them and making the world a better place. the more we focus on something the more we get of it its a universal "The Secret"

  15. Adrienne Said:

    I'm african american and didn't take offense at all to the comments about minorities, it's funny but when you try to pick out a card and you see no faces that looks like yours, then I'd think you'd get it. Yes there are alot of minorites, but if you just look at greeting cards or photographs, or whatever, not alot of images of different ethnic groups.

  16. AZMike Said:

    I saw a report on photography uses and insurance photos were mentioned, real estate, when you see the for sale signs in front of homes and they have no information available other than the real estate agents name and number. I think many agents would love to have a tube added with some nice photos and a description of the property they just are ignorant.

    Websites also might market their wares better with some good photos, how about perusing auctions on ebay to find successful and unsuccessful marketer's and offering them better stock photos of their products?

    I think if you pulled out a yellow pages from a major metro area and went page by page you would not only blow your 21 niches into 21000 niches you might find some new clients, yes? You probably could use an encyclopedia online and do the same; sure they may already have their idea of what photo is needed there but you might get some serious training and ideas.

    I was amazed at the comment above talking about "once you publish your niches no more niches", it reminds me of the true story of the plan to close the Patent Office as "all the useful inventions and ideas had already been thought of"(this was "like" one hundred years ago). I'm sure glad that guy was wrong.

    Nice blog, keep up the great effort.


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