Many photographers will look to cover a wide range of services, but if you hone things down so you’re the master of a carefully-tailored niche you could become the go-to expert for this service. WORDS & IMAGES LUCY NEWSON
WE’VE ALL HEARD the term ‘jack of all trades,’ and many photographers have done a fine job over the years being general practitioners, covering a variety of genres and making themselves available to the widest number of potential clients in the process. It’s an established format and spreading yourself widely seems to make a lot of sense when you’re just starting out. But what about going the other way, and maybe focusing on just one tightly defined area of the market?
A ‘niche market’ is the term used to describe a small, well-defined, segment of a larger market. For example, a photographer could niche down to focus on one specific genre, for example landscape, portraiture, weddings and so on. Or they could focus even tighter, looking to perhaps only market themselves for dog photography in cities or elopements in the countryside.
I’ve built my own business by, over time, honing in on a single, individual specialisation, namely rural lifestyle photography. By focusing just on this very tightly defined genre I’ve attracted lots of business from clients who now specifically seek me out: check out my case study in the box out over the page to see if this approach could also work for you.
How specialised you decide to become is completely up to you and whatever best fits your business model, and there are many benefits to be had by choosing to focus in on a specific niche market.
❚ Be an expert in your field – specialising in just one area of photography enables you to truly focus and perfect your expertise. Through your marketing, you’ll become known for this speciality, and over time you’ll acquire a reputation as the go-to photographer in this niche.
❚ Reduced number of competitors – by focusing on a smaller section of any market, by definition you’re going to be reducing the number of competitors in your sector. It’s a numbers game.
❚ Premium Price – with fewer competitors around and discerning clients willing to pay a premium for expertise, you’re less likely to need to compete on price, resulting in higher profit margins.
❚ Increased Brand Loyalty – when your marketing efforts are focused on one small sector, it’s often easier to find clients, as they can connect to your marketing message. They will feel that you understand them, and your business will be seen as the perfect fit for their needs. This in turn increases brand loyalty, as they relate to your business.
❚ Focusing on what you’re passionate about – ultimately, we’re all likely to be looking for a career we enjoy. If you dislike the wedding chaos or don’t have the patience for newborns, discover what you’re passionate about capturing. Both yourself and your clients will benefit.
Focusing on a niche market might sound perfect, but it’s important to also recognise that there could be some disadvantages to be aware of.
❚ Choosing your niche can be difficult – it can take time to find something that you’re both passionate about but which also has a feasibly strong commercial market that could be interested in working with you. You don’t want to run the risk of being so niche that there are no potential clients out there for you.
❚ A niche market can limit growth – niche markets, by nature, are small sections of a larger market and can therefore limit growth. You will need to take time to research your future niche market to truly be aware of its full potential.
❚ Vulnerable to market changes – by focusing on a single market you become dependent on them. Therefore, if the market changes you could be left without enough work. Is this worth the risk? Do you have a back-up plan if this is the case?
❚ Attract new competitors – if your business model becomes successful in your niche market, you are likely to attract new competitors. You will therefore need to establish your name early on and should be looking to build a strong brand loyalty with your potential client base.
How To Find Your Niche
This is the fun part; but you must be patient. Finding your niche may not happen overnight. Firstly, start experimenting. Take your camera everywhere you go and find your passion. Do you
love visiting car shows and photographing each vehicle? Do you enjoy capturing family celebrations? What makes you happy? Try to find two to three keen interests that you can work with during the research process.
Start by analysing these interests separately, from a business perspective. Will the market you’re envisaging focusing on have enough potential clients to sustain your business? Does this market even actually exist just yet? It’s essential to test things out before jumping in feet first. Complete online research, send out questionnaires and visit the places your future ideal clients might be hanging out in, for example wedding fairs.
You need to ensure that your chosen niche can be successful commercially. Just because you have a passion for a subject it doesn’t necessarily mean it will become a profitable business for you. Some passions might have to remain as hobbies for a little while longer perhaps, or they might not ultimately be viable at all.
When you’ve found your one passion and strongly believe, from the research you’ve completed, that your business will succeed, you’ve found your niche.
Can you succeed without a niche?
The short answer is yes, of course you can,
though it can be trickier than you might think. The opposite of a niche market is a mass market, where customer needs are more generalised and less specific. While the potential client pool might be much larger however, it can be very hard to attract their attention as there are many more competitors, and there’s always the danger of price wars.
Once you’ve chosen your niche and are starting to attract your ideal clients, what’s the next step?
I would advise that you should then start to build your brand, and I don’t just mean commissioning an eye-catching logo! Consider what you would like your position to be in your chosen market. What type of photographer do you want to be for your client? What’s your editing style? How are you looking to connect emotionally with your clients?
Take a deep dive into your business. You want to be the go-to photographer for your niche, and this is your opportunity to be the person that everyone associates with a particular, tightly defined, but still profitable, part of the market. Arrive at this position and people will seek you out, and a large part of your marketing will automatically be done for you.
Lucy Newson LBIPP is an award-winning rural lifestyle photographer based in Essex, with private commissions across the UK. Capturing the everyday magic for those living in the countryside, she creates treasured ʻfamily heirlooms in-waitingʼ for her clients through albums and artwork for their walls.
Finding my Own Niche
YOU CAN PROBABLY TELL that I’m incredibly passionate about photographers finding their niche market, and a large part of this is because of the experience I’ve had in finding one of my own.
Lucy Newson Photography began in the spring of 2018, where I specialised in equine and canine portraiture photography, a genre that combined my love and knowledge of our four-legged friends. Being a small niche, I found my space in the market quickly.
However, over time I left each photo shoot with a certain sense of dissatisfaction. I was feeling that I had only captured part of my client’s story. What about their lifestyle and their family? How was I meant to capture this all within a two hour shoot? I spent a lot of time sitting at my dining room table writing down what I loved about what I did, and what I wished I could do. When the first Covid lockdown hit life changed remarkably quickly, and this was the jolt I needed for everything in my mind to finally fall into place.
I realised that I wanted to capture families who live in the countryside with their animals. Everything from family breakfast through to sunset over their land. I wanted to spend more time with my clients: not two hours, not even ten hours, but days. I wanted time to understand them and to effectively become their friend. Time to build trust. Time to slow down. Capturing true life at its everyday pace. I had found my inspiration.
To make my dream a reality I invested in mentorship, and began my research. Not living in the countryside at the time, and with very few friends/family being country dwellers, I found my ideal clients on Instagram. I reached out to them, talking about my new offerings and asking them for their opinion. I took their feedback on board and then made my tweaks. I also gifted a couple of photo shoots to influencers in my ‘ideal clients’ circles, and quickly found that the niche market I had envisaged was actually there. The ‘Rural Lifestyle Photographer’ was born.
Go here to redeem your Pro Photo Gift Cards. Just add to Cart and then enter Gift Card Code at checkout. You can add the value of your Gift Card to any higher value subscription, and then pay the extra if you wish.
© 2022, Professional Photo Magazine and Respective content owners.. All rights reserved.