Essays / tags / business

Finding Your Niche (ie Your Joy)

One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten (from many photographers I know and respect) is "find your niche". When you find your style or the type of photography that really brings you joy, one day you just say "yes, this is IT" and you'll be well on your way to a solid career in photography. I say that with a little tongue in cheek of course, because a lot of things contribute to a successful business, but all other things being equal, it's an important part of satisfaction and success.

If you're now asking "Ok, now how do I figure that out?"... you're not alone. It might come down to asking yourself two questions: "What do I love?" and "What do I do really well?". If there is one or two types that overlap in your responses, that's where you should lean. It doesn't mean you have to *only* do that type of photography. As a matter of fact, if you're just starting out take every opportunity offered to you. The amazing Seattle-based portrait photographer John Keatley confirmed for me at a recent workshop that you need to focus your energies to what you love most. If your personal work reflects what you love, clients will start hiring you to do that work. Then, work won't feel so much like... work, but more like a fun personal project you get paid for. Now that's the dream.

It took me a while to realize where I wanted to go... I thought everyone telling me to fixate on one or two categories was crazy. Why would I limit the jobs that I'll take or work I do? Doesn't that seem counter-intuitive? In a general sense, it might seem that way but when you start to focus, you'll build a beautiful portfolio and expertise in that style so when someone asks "Who is a great _______ photographer?" then your name will come up without hesitation. It takes time, no two ways about it; we're talking at least a year or two if not more to build up that reputation, but it's worth it. We got in this business because we love it. Art is not necessarily a money-making business, but it can be. You can be successful and happy, no really it's true. It just takes drive and a desire to share with the world and capture the beauty in what's around you whether it's people, hidden mysteries, or the most amazing plate of gnocchi you've ever seen. It sounds so very cheesy, but find your happiness and success will find you. Have patience and tenacity; it will find you.

John Keatley is an amazing speaker and started a 3-day workshop that is more than worth splurging on. He's also a great human, I recommend getting to know him and his work. 

Categories: Photography Business

Tags: business, finding your style, photography, small business photography