In this guide, we’ll be covering photography niches and how to choose the right one for you.
While this guide is tailored to photographers (since I am a photographer), the core concepts and tips apply to all other artists and creators.
What is a Niche?
A niche is a segment of a larger market that has its own unique needs, pain points, and identity.
An example of a niche within the larger marketing of photography is fashion photography.
This will allow you to establish a defined brand that is unique and memorable.
Let’s take a look at some of the common photography niches.
Types of Photography Niches
1. Portrait Photography
Portrait photography is one of the most common photography niches.
With the rise of more advanced smartphone capabilities, most beginners turn towards portrait photography as their intro into photography.
There is something about capturing a genuine expression from an individual that allows us to gain introspection. It is for this reason that portrait photography has remained one of the most popular photography types throughout history.
2. Landscape Photography
Landscape photography is another common photography niche and type.
Landscape photography is the art of photographing the outdoors with the goal of bringing the viewer into the scene.
3. Street Photography
Street photography is the art of capturing a candid moment of a subject in its current environment
The subjects are often living beings such as people or animals.
The difference between a street photograph and a regular portrait photograph is that in portrait photographs, the subject knows they are going to be photographed.
There are “street portraits,” however, that combine the two concepts.
4. Headshot Photography
Headshot photography involves a portrait picture with a particular focus on the person’s face.
Headshots are very popular when in need of a new profile picture for the one of many public digital profiles that we now use on a daily basis.
Headshots and portraits can be quite similar but the distinction I like to make is that a headshot usually only includes the photo of a subject from their shoulders to their head.
A portrait can be of a subject’s whole body.
The way I like to think of it is that a headshot can also be a portrait, but a portrait isn’t necessarily a headshot.
5. Still Life Photography
Still life photography is the art of capturing an inanimate subject in a created setting.
The particular arrangement and lighting in still life photography is what separates a professional still life photographer from an amateur.
6. Food Photography
7. Sports Photography
Sports photography is the art of capturing events and moments during sporting events.
Sports photography is often considered a branch of photojournalism.
8. Wildlife Photography
9. Macro Photography
Macro photography is the art of capturing an extremely close-up image of a small subject such as insects, flowers, etc.
Macro photography is often accompanied with a macro lens that will allow you to capture these larger than life images.
10. Event Photography
Event photography is the art of capturing moments, guests, and occurrences at an event or occasion.
Event photographers are often needed when there are parties, music events, or any other gatherings where the moments will want to be remembered.
11. Fashion Photography
Fashion photography is the art of capturing a subject that is displayed in a certain set of fashion items such as clothing or accessories.
Fashion photography is often found in fashion magazines or websites such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, etc.
Fashion photography is similar to portrait photography, however, in fashion photography the main attention should be on the clothing/fashion items opposed to the subject’s expression.
12. Newborn Photography
Newborn photography is the art of capturing newborn babies.
Since newborn photographer are dealing with babies, safety is the #1 priority.
The plus side of newborn photography is that you’ll often have the parents as your assistants and they can hold up and pose the baby!
Photojournalism is a form of journalism that focuses on capturing images that will help the narrative of a news story.
At its core, it’s about telling a story through an image.
14. Stock Photography
Stock photography is the practice of capturing photographs with the sole intention of licensing them for use.
Stock photographers upload their images to Stock Photography Websites and in return make some money for their images.
The relationship is mutually beneficial.
People use stock photographs for their websites and stock photographers take photographs for the money.
15. Documentary Photography
Documentary photography is the art of capturing events/images that are significant to history and everyday life.
Documentary photography and photojournalism are similar but the main distinction people make is that documentary photography is often deemed long-term whereas photojournalism is often associated with breaking news images that will be shown in newspapers, on the news, etc.
16. Weather Photography
Weather photography is the art of capturing the weather on a given day through a photograph.
In order to be a great weather photographer, you also need to be able to read and understand particular weather such as storm patterns.
You also need to know how to use tools such as radars to follow the weather and stay safe.
17. Night Photography
Night photography is the art of capturing images outdoors at night.
Night photographers often capture subjects that illuminate the dark sky of night.
Example subjects of night photographers include the stars, city lights, or other bright lights.
18. Architectural Photography
Architectural photography is the art of capturing photographs of buildings or other architectural structures with the emphasis on its lines, curves, or patterns.
In order to capture a successful architectural photograph, the image should be aesthetically pleasing.
Astrophotography is the art of capturing astronomical objects and particular areas of the night sky in which celestial events are occurring.
In order to be successful in astrophotography, you’ll often need the right equipment which includes telescope lenses and certain camera filters.
The images that are captured, however, are truly out of this world.
20. Wedding Photography
Wedding photography is the art of capturing wedding events and the special moments that occur on the day.
Wedding photography is often considered the most stressful because you are capturing someone’s “big day” and there are a lot of moving parts.
The upside is that wedding photographers often can make a lot of money due to the grandiose nature of the event.
21. Travel Photography
Travel photography is the art of documenting the area, landscape, people, and culture around you.
Travel photography is often done when one is currently “traveling” and wants to document the moment around them.
22. Underwater Photography
Underwater photography is the art of capturing images while underwater.
In order to successfully capture underwater photographs, you will need the best waterproof cameras and often need to have experience scuba diving, swimming, or snorkeling.
The subjects of underwater photographs are often the sea life in the water.
23. Aerial Photography
Aerial photography is the art of capturing images from above with either the photographer being in some type of aircraft or them using a flying object to take the photo such as a drone.
The images that are produced from aerial photographs are often used in cartography, land planning, environmental studies, conveyancing, movie production, or even espionage.
24. Boudoir Photography
Boudoir photography is the art of capturing an image that features an intimate, romantic, or sensual mood.
The setting of boudoir photographs often include a studio, a bedroom, or a private dressing room.
The images are not often meant for public view but for the enjoyment of the subject and his/her romantic partner.
25. Lifestyle Photography
Lifestyle photography is the art of capturing images of people in real-life events and to tell a story through that image.
Lifestyle photography is similar to a portrait photograph in the sense that they are planned images, however, lifestyle photographs are a bit more candid and should aim to capture and document a real-life event.
Why Should You Find a Niche?
Finding a niche has many benefits. One of them being that you won’t be competing with everyone.
If you decide to try to become an expert in 5 different styles of portrait photography all at the same time, you may find yourself in the situation of — “Jack of all trades but master of none.”
Another major benefit to finding a niche is that it will make it easier for you to describe to customers and people what it is that you do and what products/services you offer.
This is important when it comes time to write/brainstorm your business plan which we’ll be discussing in the next section.
How do You Find the Right Photography Niche?
Now that we’ve covered all the different types of photography niches and touched on the importance of finding a niche, let’s dive into how you would go about finding the right niche for your photography business.
It’s important to note that this is regarding picking a niche for your photography business. In other words, how you will be making money with your photography.
If you want to enjoy all the photography niches in your free time as a hobby that is great!
Let’s dive into how to find the right niche for you.
1. Research All the Niches Out There
The first step in finding the right photography niche, is to first research and know all your options.
You need to know all the different types of photography niches out there so you start to think about which ones sound interesting and align most with your current skill set.
We’ve listed all of the different types of photography niches above so be sure to examine each of those and make sure to write down which ones interest you!
If you dwindle it down to a list of 3-5 niches that sound interesting to you, do some more research on each niche, watch some YouTube videos of people in that niche, then narrow it down even more until you’re left with 1-2 niches!
2. Evaluate Your Interest
The second step to find the right photography niche is to evaluate your interests.
A big mistake I see a lot of people make is that they want to immediately dive into Wedding Photography because it pays well although they may hate shooting weddings.
Why would you do this to yourself?
I can’t speak for you, but the reason I got into photography is because I enjoyed capturing moments and the artistry behind photography. If I didn’t, I would find another way to make money.
With all that being said, evaluate your interests.
Example questions you can ask yourself include:
- Do you like photographing outdoors?
- If yes, then maybe look into the options that mainly involve outdoor photography and maybe stay away from indoor event photography or studio photography.
- Do you like working with people?
- If yes, then maybe look into portrait, event, or street photography. If not, then maybe stick with product photography, night photography, wildlife photography, etc.
- Do you love working with a lot of equipment?
- If yes, then look into the photography niches that require the latest and best gear such as astrophotography or aerial photography. If not, then maybe stick with a niche that you can just stick with 1-2 pieces of gear such as outdoor portrait photography or street photography.
3. Evaluate Your Current Skill Set
The third step is to evaluate your current skill set.
Although some might disagree, I believe certain niches require a sort of “prerequisite.”
For example, with street photography, I think it’s best to first hone in on your portrait photography and landscape photography skills so you can develop basic composition skills and knowledge of lighting and shadows.
Same goes for wedding photography, I think it’s best to hone in on portrait photography and event photography skills before attempting to photograph a wedding where the stakes are a bit higher.
Evaluate your current skill set and be honest with yourself. By knowing your current strengths and weaknesses as a photographer, it will allow you to know what areas you need to focus on before diving into a particular niche.
So what if you’re a beginner and you want to dive into a niche with no current skill set?
This is where knowing your strengths and weaknesses is important.
If you know this is your weakness (that you know nothing yet), then you can take the necessary action to improve upon that weakness such as being a second shooter for someone, reading up on that photography niche and tips to improve, watching videos, taking an internship, doing a couple shoots for family and friends to “get your feet wet,” etc.
It’s hard to know the next course of action if you don’t know where you are currently at.
4. Narrow it Down
Once you research all the niches, evaluate your interest and current skill set, it’s time to narrow it down.
Remember I mentioned writing a list of all the particular niches that interest you? Well now it’s time to narrow that list to 1-2 niches that you will want to focus on.
Once you have narrowed your list it’s time to move onto the next two steps.
5. Research Competition
The fifth step when choosing a photography niche, is to research the current competition within your area..
In order to find the current competition within your area, go to Google and type in “ [insert photography niche] + [location].”
These are good keywords to check and see what competition you have in your local area.
For example, if you want to dive into the portrait photography niche and you live in New York, you would type in “portrait photography in New York” or “portrait photographer in New York.”
If you live in Austin, Texas, you would type in “portrait photographer in Austin Texas.”
Once you have done that, take note of everyone who is ranking on Google and showing up in the GMB (Google My Business) map pack.
I recommend seeing everyone who is ranking on Google up to page 3. In order to find those showing up in the GMB map pack, click here then take note of everyone showing up.
When on the competition’s website, there are four things that you will want to look at – their about page, their services/products pages, their portfolio, and their price page.
Side note – if you don’t have a website set up for your own business, that needs to be done ASAP. Here is a guide on creating a website.
Their about page will reveal how they are branding themselves and how they are positioning their service (what makes them unique).
Their service/product page will reveal the type of sub niche they have (if any).
For example, if they are a portrait photographer, you may find that they only shoot indoor portraits.
Their portfolio page will reveal the level of quality that they deliver
Their price page will reveal the going rate in your area for the type of photography niche you are in. You can then cross reference this with their portfolio.
If the quality level of their work is similar to yours, then you can be confident that you can charge the same or a bit more for your own services.
On the note of pricing, let’s dive into the next step.
6. Determine Profitability
The 6th step for choosing the right photography niche is to determine profitability.
Money is the lifeblood of companies.
As mentioned, when researching competitors, take note of the average price your competition is charging and then work out the math.
Calculate how much you want to make a year to be profitable, then calculate how many photoshoots a month it would take to make that based on the going rates. Of course, you will also have to factor in taxes and stuff but this is just rough estimations for right now.
If you get to step 6 and do not like the profitability, the competition, or your overall confidence in that niche, then start over and go from step 1 – 6 until you feel confident.
Once you accomplish step 6, it’s time to move on to the last step.
7. Put it on Paper
Once you’ve accomplished all the previous steps, then it’s time to put it on paper so you can lay out a game plan for your business.
It’s time to create your business plan which will lay out each state of starting and managing your business. This will serve as your roadmap for how to structure, run, and scale your photography business.
Within the business plan, you will also lay out marketing strategies and the products/services you plan to offer as well as your revenue model.
The process of creating a business plan will give you further insight and vision into your business and what it will take to become successful in the photography niche you have chosen.
Profitable Photography Niches
I’m a strong believer that if you do well and are skilled at what you do, then you can be profitable.
Just like any job, however, there are some industries that make more money due to the skills involved and the demand of the job.
Here are the current top 3 profitable niches for photographers at the moment:
1. Event/Wedding Photography
Event/wedding photography tops the list for most profitable. When you think about it, it makes sense.
Weddings cost a lot of money, and if you photograph a wedding, you’ll be getting a piece of it.
2. Product Photography
With the boom of e-commerce, product photography has become more popular.
With online businesses needing high-quality photos of their products, a product photographer will be their go-to source.
3. Social Media Photography
With the advent of social media, the need for high-quality images whether it’s of yourself or of your products has become more popular.
You can be a class of portrait photographer or product photographer to take advantage of the social media/digital age.
This was an in-depth guide discussing photography niches, how to pick the right one, and the tips for choosing a career in photography.
It’s important to take action and take any new concepts you learned and apply it to your own business.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate used to run his own professional photography business called Nate Joaquin Photography but has since focused on the marketing and business aspect of photography although he still enjoys taking photos. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.com.