Struggling to make the transition from an amateur photographer to a pro can be a tough job as it is. Creating a compelling portfolio, acquiring a client pool and managing it properly, creating a name for yourself, struggling to get new gigs and the credibility that comes with them… it’s already hard, right? But besides this manager and marketing business, you are expected to be an exceptional artist as well. To be original and stand out from the crowd as much as possible – that’s quite some pressure, actually. But there’s a neat trick you can use if you’re still confused about which path to take and you don’t know how to create your own individual voice: go two ways. Combine two photography niches to be unique and you’ll really stand a chance of doing memorable work and working on projects which people could actually remember. Let’s explore this thought further and hopefully this will inspire you to further define your photography strategy.
First of all, let’s clarify for a bit what it would mean to combine two photography niches to be unique. It’s not about doing twice the work in two separate sub-fields to see which one works out better, no. It means choosing a main niche in which you plan to exercise your skills and combine it with a secondary one which is perhaps even rarer than the first. Let’s say, for the sake of example, that you plan to be a portrait photographer as the main choice. It’s a good option, especially if you’re passionate about it, but any amateur photographer aspiring to make the transition to a pro knows that it can be hard and not what you initially expect out of it. Think about choosing something even more specialized for a secondary niche; let’s say that you have an eye out for culinary photography, how about making a regular thing out of that as well? It might work out better than you think.
Following the logic of this example, since the portrait photography niche tends to pay better when you’re a beginner, this is obviously the main choice. But if you would also be into culinary photos, you could get in contact with people who own food blogs and who generally take their own pictures of food, and offer to take their portraits (for free, in the initial stage). They would get some more promoting out of it, and you would probably create a unique project of portraits of the main food bloggers in your city and this will get you known as the only photographer who did this. It won’t get you immediately paid, probably, but it will contribute to creating a more recognizable photographic identity.
If you would do it the other way around, choose the culinary niche as the main specialization and the portrait photography as the secondary niche, then your project would look different as well. Instead of creating a series of portraits of people working in the food business or somehow iconic for the foodie culture, you could think about taking photos of plates of masterfully created dishes with their author in the background. It may look similar, but the presence of food and the change of focus would express better your primary-secondary niche dynamic. See where we’re getting at? Now think of your main choice, it’s probably the same kind of photography you’re pursuing right now, and then think of something else, maybe a little more specific, that you would like to have an interest in. Create your own choices and combine two photography niches in order to take a big step towards a better contoured professional identity. If there are plenty of other pursuers of your main niche, there wouldn’t be a lot of other photographers in the two combined ones. Consider your options and good luck with creating a more unique artistic voice.