Finding your Photography Niche
Photographers! Tired of being the "Jack of all Trades" in your photography career? Find your direction. Discover the power of discovering your niche and how it can take your work to the next level.
As a photographer, finding your niche is an essential step towards building a successful career. Your niche is the area of photography that you specialize in and excel at. It’s the unique style and perspective that sets you apart from other photographers and makes you stand out in a crowded market.
In my experience as an editorial portrait photographer, finding my niche has been crucial to my success. My most important sessions with Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Pharrell Williams, and Colin Firth were all possible because of my niche in editorial portrait photography.
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When I first started out as a photographer, I was aimless, I just pointed my camera at things and snapped. A picture was good because it was in focus right? It wasn’t until I saw Vogue for the first time at 17 and discovered my passion for fashion photography. Shooting models for agencies led to my first cover at 23. Fashion led to shooting Editorial portrait photography and that’s when things started really started to click.
I found that I loved the challenge of capturing subject's that weren’t paid to be in front of the camera. People who were quirky, uncomfortable. Getting that personality and essence in a single image is everything to me. I enjoyed the collaboration and creative process of working with magazines and art directors to create unique and striking images. I learned being able to photograph every day people at a high level was more important to me than shooting models. I realized that there was a huge market gap for editorial portraits in the way that I shot them, and suddenly everyone became a potential subject, and I had to be ready to shoot anyone, anytime in any place for the publications I was shooting for.
By focusing on editorial portrait photography, I was able to hone my skills and develop a recognizable style. My images were known for their quality, I shot Hasselblad from 1991-’04, my location choices, use of light and shadow, and ability to capture a subject's essence and mood, quickly.
I also realized I had a very essential skill. Speed. I could do this, quickly. My speed and pre-preparation for sessions at times that only lasted 5-10m was super important and became part of the reason I continually was chosen. I started shooting Jazz acts for record labels like Verve and Universal Music. I was flying everywhere from LA to New York.
In 1997 I photographed Thom Yorke from Radiohead. This changed the game. This photograph was on the cover of the Globe & Mail newspaper and 2 million viewers saw my photo credit that day. I became the go to photographer for shooting musicians of all genres.
When hip-hop broke, I was at the forefront shooting almost every big act that came into the city. With the rise of hip-hop came the rise of streetwear and it was a perfect time for me to get back into shooting fashion. But this time it was street fashion. Shot in a way that was Street level, edgy, hyper realistic and on trend.
As I gained more experience and success in my niche, I found that my work became more fulfilling and satisfying. I was able to attract higher-profile clients and projects that aligned with my interests and values. My work became more meaningful and impactful, and I felt like I was making a real contribution to the industry. I started to shoot massive celebrities, like Sandra Oh, Michael Sheen, Colin Firth and so many more. See more of my work here.
Finding your photographic niche is not just about developing a style or technique. It’s about discovering your passion and interests, and pursuing them relentlessly. It’s about being true to yourself and your vision, and not trying to be everything to everyone.
I could easily write an entire essay about how adding video to my skillset, completely re-invigorated my career, but i’ll save that one for another post.
So, if you’re a photographer who’s still trying to find your way, my advice is to experiment and explore different genres. But don’t be afraid to narrow your focus and specialize in something that speaks to you. Your niche may not be obvious at first, but with time and practice, you’ll find it. And when you do, it will open up a world of opportunities and possibilities that you never thought possible.
If you’d like to know more about how to find you’re niche, i’ll be doing a LIVE stream Sunday at 2pm EST giving you specific tips for finding your niche, how to find and fill content gaps in the industry and i’ll be taking your questions at the end of the episode. If you’ve never watched one of my podcast’s this one is for you. If you miss the live show, worry not. There is so much value watching my content whether it’s live or not. 4x as many viewers watch my podcast as a video … With this little heads-up you can be on of the ones that catch it live. I’ll see you there. I’d love to meet you.
Thanks for reading.
Don’t forget, you get better every time you pick up your camera. Showing up to do the work is the hardest part.
Love and Light from Toronto
Because you’re hardcore and are actually reading this, it proves that you care about your advancement in this career you’ve chosen. Many of us get stuck. I’ve began to offer one on one intensive online consultation and mentorship. If you’re not quite confident enough yet to have your work reviewed in a public forum, I’ve reduced my prices to have your work reviewed in private. I record our entire session, and after our consult, I deliver you a full video so you can review it over and over. Bookings for April are going quickly.. You can get in on that offer here