It’s a fine Monday morning, and you’re eager to start the day. You open your email to check if there are any prospective clients that answered your email campaign. Hey, there’s one! Right at the top is an inquiry for a photo shoot. This may be a new client! But as you read the email further, you realized that the prospect, a realtor, is looking for a professional real estate photographer to take beautiful photos of the new property he wants to sell.
Now, you have taken a few photos of your friends’ homes. You know they look great—people have high compliments on your work—but unfortunately, that type of photography is not your forte. You profession is inclined towards portrait photography, and taking images of homes and buildings is really just a hobby for you. But not taking the project would mean a loss of opportunity. Shall you risk it? Shall you play it safe?
This is one of the dilemmas of a budding photographer. Should you choose to specialize in a particular photography niche? Or should you advertise yourself as a general photographer? Well, it depends, and the preference changes as you gain more experience in the industry.
It is not a bad thing to be jack-of-all-trades rather than focusing on a photography niche. In fact, you may have been doing that since the day you first got interested in a camera. You take portraits for your friends, photos of landscapes when you travel, images of interesting architecture as you take a stroll around the city, or gourmet food presentations as you eat in classy restaurants. With constant practice, the quality of your photos improves greatly.
Taking images of different subjects allows you to explore the intricacies of various niches. It allows you to discover what you really love. Are you in your happy place when you take photo of blushing brides and grooms? Do you love the feeling of awe as you photography wildlife and spectacular landscapes? Do you feel inspired when you take images of beautiful homes?
Yes, it is perfectly okay to take images of various subjects. However, if you want to transform your passion or side-business into a career, then you might want to market yourself as a specialist of a certain niche. People have different requirements, and to be assured of the best results, they generally want a specialist that can satisfy their needs. Consider our sample situation above. If you advertise yourself as a real estate photographer, then you have a bigger chance of closing a deal. On the other hand, telling the prospect you are a portrait photographer but you’re willing to try on that project will elicit uncertainty on the part of the client and potentially a lower price tag on your work.
Specializing in a photography niche is also important when you start to create your photography website. You want to be able to have an impact—to create a specific brand for yourself and be identified as an expert of a certain field of photography. Readers arrive at your real estate photography website because are actually searching for someone of your expertise. After taking a look at your portfolio, they might conclude that you are the expert they are looking for.
Specializing in a photography niche enables search engines to easily index your website. Again, let’s assume that you have a real estate photography website. If you incorporate appropriate keywords in your content, post photos of your real estate photography work, write informative blog posts about real estate photography, and have back-links on related websites that point to your site, chances are your site may land in the first page of a Google search for “real estate photography in [City, State]. And you know what that means; better visibility in the Internet means more traffic to your website.
What if you decide to specialize in different photography niches? Well, you can definitely do that, but it would be a good idea to create different websites for each niche so you can maximize mileage and search engine visibility for each one. In each site, show unique images that fit with your style, which help attract clients you want to work with. You can also include images of related niches; for instance, you can display stunning photos of brides in your fashion photography website.
According to the New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon, one way to find your niche is to think of the things you love doing the best. Then consider the things people will actually pay you to do. Lastly, consider the skills you have. Where these three circles overlap, this is what your niche should be.
Build a portfolio that is consistent in aesthetics, one that reflects the kind of photos you want to take and the type of projects that people will want to hire you for.