There are so many photographers out there that tell you you need to niche down to one or two types of photography and be REALLY good at them to be successful. I’m not going to argue with that at all, I’m going to encourage it actually, but what no one talks about is HOW to do that! It’s also not common to have a photographer encourage you to TAKE. YOUR. TIME. in doing so!! This is not something that has to be decided overnight, or even in the first 3 or 6 or 12 months of your business.
Okay, so you’re a brand new photographer. You keep hearing things like, “well what do you photograph? What kind of photographer are you going to be?” And you’re sort of like… I DON’T CARE I JUST WANT TO PRACTICE AND START MY BUSINESS!! 🤣 Well guess what?! You can do that!
I highly recommend shooting anything and everything you can in those first few months. You don’t KNOW what types of sessions are going to be your favorite, and which ones will come easiest to you, until you start DOING them. It is SO true that there is no substitute for experience, and a service-based business like this one is no exception.
Soooo, let’s get back to HOW to actually niche down! I thought about all the things that helped me fall into my dream photography niche (in home lifestyle newborns, and families with YOUNG children!) and put them into a questionnaire. Below is my simple step-by-step guide to establishing the photography niche that’s best for YOU!
- TRY. ALL. THE. THINGS. Wedding? Engagement? Maternity? In Home Newborn? Posed Newborn? Headshots? Branding Session? Milestone sessions with a backdrop? I want you to try anything that REMOTELY interests you to figure out what you’re GOOD at. I also highly recommend trying each type more than once! So many factors go into your enjoyment level… from the weather, to the location, to what the clients wore, to how the kids decided to act that day. SO, give each session type a REALLY fair shot!
- After you’ve tried all the things, make a list of each session type you’ve done and make a pro con list for each! Go through the following thoughts and write your answer in the pro or con column depending on which you like best!
- How difficult was it to book a session like this? Do you have contacts and resources that could help you find additional clients like this? For example, I am an in home newborn photographer, and when I started I had a newborn myself. And there are A LOT of people having babies, always. So for me, this was pretty easy to either: a. Appeal to clients in ads because I knew exactly what they wanted and needed or b. Network within my community of new moms who have friends, who also have friends, to get my name out there!
- How did you feel BEFORE the session? Dreading it? Excited for it? Nervous but excited? You might be nervous for EVERY session for a while! But eventually you’ll see which ones had excitement outweighing nervousness!
- How did you feel DURING the session? Were you enjoying yourself? Or was it completely stressful or frustrating? This is why I say try all the things, and at least a couple of times each! Each session is going to be so different, so we want to give them all the attention they deserve.
- How did you feel AFTER the session? Were you excited to get your images onto your computer to edit? Or do you just feel relief that it’s over and you can move onto something new? If I have a session and leave with the immense sense of relief, and I feel my shoulders fall as my anxiety relaxes… That session type might not be for me.
- How do your final images look in comparison to OTHER session types you have done? I know my images of engagement sessions are fine! You can see the love between the bride and groom, and they look comfortable and happy. But the images of a 3 year old with her brand new baby brother?! I freaking knock those out of the park. It’s not that you’re “bad” at one session type, but I almost guarantee there’s one you THRIVE in. You can even ask your friends and family which sessions of yours are there favorite! This might give you some insight, too.
- How did the upcoming session affect your family schedule wise? Do you have to get a babysitter? Are you missing out on time when you could be home with your whole family? Or was it a great break for you since you’ve been with the kids all week? For me, sessions on weekends were the biggest stress. Was I going to have reliable childcare? Would I miss an entire saturday with my fam for a wedding? That also meant we couldn’t travel that weekend! So for me, weddings were sort of out.
- How was the work vs financial reward for you? Did you feel like the amount of work/stress/time away from family was worth what you could charge for that session type? (Charging the proper amount is equally important here, and a convo for a different day, but some sessions do have a different bang for their buck haha)
- Lastly, was this session type sustainable for you? Could you see yourself doing this often enough, with not too much stress and not getting burnt out, that it could provide the income you’re looking for?
I want you to open a google doc and keep a running list of these feelings about each session type! You’ll eventually just KNOW what works for you on all of these levels, but it’s REALLY nice to also see your reasonings in writing.
And yes, determining your niche is important. It helps you attract your ideal client with much less effort, it streamlines your behind the scenes administrative processes, and it makes you BETTER at your specific craft. But you do NOT need to do this overnight to be successful and grow your business! We don’t want you hopping into the wrong niche too quickly just because you felt the pressure to decide. Take the above list and work through it until you feel CONFIDENT in your decision to niche down.
I also want to say here – your niche can be whatever you decide. Technically, I am a newborn and family photographer. But my real niche is families with YOUNG children. I thrive working with toddlers, and sessions with kids 1-5 are my favorite to shoot. Throw in a newborn baby with those newborn baby smells?! UHM YEAH, I’m sold! But “Newborn and family photographer focusing on families with young children”… uhm what kind of a niche is that?! Welp, it’s MY niche, and my clients sure are glad I have it.
Last but not least, and in the same vein as the last paragraph, this is your business… YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT!!! There are no rules. If you finally niche down, but have the opportunity to shoot another type of session and you feel drawn to do it… then DO IT. It’s not what’s “allowed”, because you’re the boss. YOU are the only one in control of what you do with your business, and that’s the beauty of this profession.
I can’t wait to see what you decide!! Shoot me an email at hello@danagrahamphotography with any questions!