For many of us, we get into photography because something creative has been sparked inside of us. The idea that we can use this tool called a camera to make art is fascinating.
When we start, we have no idea how we’re going to make our art, or what it’ll even look like, but it’s utterly exciting just the same.
Naturally, we start photographing everything. We’re just happy to have a camera!
But at what point do we stop photographing everything and start our journey to true mastery in one niche?
It’s cliche but it’s true, ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’. So why is finding your niche important for a long, inspiring journey with photography? And how do you find your niche?
Let’s take a look.
I Found Passion For My Niche In The Most Unexpected Place.
I’m a food photographer, but when I first picked up a camera, I didn’t know this genre of photography even existed. I guess you can say that I fell into it.
In 2012, I was travelling around the southern parts of Australia in a campervan. I was on summer vacation from university and I’d recently picked up my first DSLR camera a few months before.
I was in that stage of life, where I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself and I wasn’t finding purpose. Photography had started to fill that gap but I was still just taking photos of everything.
One day, we were in a little bookshop in Tasmania. My husband found a book on food photography: Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin. I was immediately captivated. Pouring through its pages I felt this fire burning inside of me. Something I’d never felt before.
I started then and there on that trip photographing food in our campervan.
I was completely unaware of just how hard this niche would be execute well, but I don’t think I would have cared even if I did. I felt like I had found what I was meant to be good at.
Why Finding Your Niche Makes You A Great Photographer
I’ve been photographing food for 7 years now. That’s 2,500 days and over 60,000 hours. It’s fair to say that I’m an expert at it. And the reason that I am an expert is that I’ve failed at least 45,000 hours of that.
An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field ~ Niels Bohr.
And it’s absolutely true. Dedicating yourself to a niche where you can dig to the bottom and find that gold, means that you will make all the mistakes there is to make. That’s how we learn.
My husband reminds me all the time that great photography is made up of a whole bunch of little things done well.
If you can immerse yourself in one niche, make all the mistakes there is to make, dedicate those hours to perfecting the nuances it brings, you become an expert. A great photographer.
It’s been discovered that the three main motivators are autonomy, mastering and purpose. Having a niche will keep you motivated to work on your craft. To enjoy the journey.
The Path To Finding Your Nice
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would love food photography so much. And you might be thinking, everyone loves food so it’s a no brainer.
But I don’t just love food photography for the food. I love it for the control.
Still life photography is the process of creating something from nothing. It’s not like other niches where you explore the best angle and composition of a subject that exists. Still life photographers actually have to create a vision in their minds, then execute it. Food is next level because as part of that puzzle, you have to cook a recipe.
The path to great answers comes from asking great questions.
I believe that finding your niche, that thing you’ll become a master at photographing comes from asking great questions. Those questions are bigger than simply, ‘do you like photographing people, things or places’? It goes deeper than that.
Ask great questions, think big and specific and you’ll discover great answers ~ Gary Keller, author of The One Thing.
The Great Questions To Ask Yourself
To find your niche, I think we have to get to the root cause of our creativity. What is it that excites us about photographing specific subjects?
To help you find your niche, ask yourself these questions:
1- Do you like the possibility of creating a captivating scene from nothing? Or is it telling stories by seeing the beauty in everyday things?
2- Do you like wandering to unchartered places to capture the beauty of our planet that most don’t get to witness?
3- Do you get excited by fantasy or real life? Abstract or realism?
4- Does capturing people inspire you? Or do you feel a sense of purpose by empowering your subjects? Maybe you can’t stand people and like the chase of photographing wildlife.
5- Do you prefer to work alone or with a team? In a studio or out in nature?
6- Which subjects have you lost yourself capturing? That no matter how much you fail, you’ll show up time and time again just to explore it more. What feels like pleasure to you?
7- What can’t you live without? If money wasn’t an issue, what would you spend your time doing?
To find great answers, take some time. If the answer isn’t immediately obvious, let it marinate.
Actionable Tips To Find Your Niche.
In addition to asking yourself the above questions, carve out some time to explore these tips.
1- Pinpoint the niches you know that don’t interest you.
2- Identify those photography Instagram accounts that you always look forward to. What is it about their work that inspires you? Is it niche specific?
3- Review your best images. What is it about the story and even the light that makes your style? How is this different by niche?
4- Create a list of three niches that get you excited. Try your hand at shooting each niche (and try for more than just a once-off).
5- Ask three people you’re close to (that understand photography) what they love about your work. Ask them what they think your niche is. I find a fresh perspective can unlock great answers.
And lastly, perhaps consider what niche means for you? Maybe you capture two niches, but there is something specific that you do that ties them neatly together.
Always look from within and don’t worry about what others are doing. Each one of us is unique, with our own way of seeing. Find what it is you’re passionate about and carve out your own place in your chosen niche.