Combine Two Photography Niches to Be Unique

photographer-photography--005Struggling 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.

Who Is A Better Photographer, A Man Or A Woman?

I read an article in the Wall Street Journal the other day, and it said:

Men tend to start businesses to be the “boss,” and their aim is for their businesses to grow as big as possible. Women start businesses to be personally challenged and to integrate work and family, and they want to stay at a size where they personally can oversee all aspects of the business.Who Is A Better Photographer, A Man Or A Woman

Right there you can start to see the difference in expectations and outcomes.

Men start businesses to see how big they can build them. Women build them more as an escape from the hectic life of a 9 to 5 job so that they can incorporate work and family into a more meaningful life.

And of course that leads to  one more thing. Men will build the business to maximize income. Women will settle for enough income to be happy (however she defines it).

So it got me to thinking about photographers and whether it was true in the photography field as well.

I found this great editorial on the subject over at Fstoppers – Photography: Is It Still A Man’s World?

In the article, Lee states that according to the National Endowment for the Arts Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005 report put out in 2008, women make up 42.8% of all professional photographers. Not bad, right? But when you look a little closer, you’ll find that demographics show 60% of photographers under 35 are women. Meaning proportionately women haven’t come into the photography field until recently.

So from just those statistics, overall women are definitely penetrating the photography industry. But according to the WSJ, men will build more successful, higher income businesses than women. Does that hold true in photography?

Need help on the direction of your Photography Business?

According to the NEA’s report, the median income for male photographers is $35,500. The median income for a female photographer? $16,300.

Yep. It definitely holds true.

When it comes to shooting, men and women look at things differently. And that’s only to be expected. But the same holds true from person to person, man or woman. Photography is art. And art is created from within. How you look at a situation and how you choose to express it is all based on how you approach your art form.

Both men and women can be true artists in every sense of the word. Both can move to the top of the industry. Both can make successful careers. Both have the opportunity to take it as far as they can go.

But statistics show by far women “get stuck” more on the details than men.

So the question isn’t whether men or women are better at photography, the question becomes are men or women better at the business of photography?

Because without the business side of things, if all you do is make enough to barely survive, you’re much better off getting a job and skipping the “photography business” altogether.

What do you think? Need help on the direction of your Photography Business?

Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Your car is a few years old. So you head out to find a new one. Do you look at the price tag on the sticker? Of course not – what does that truly mean? Instead you look at the payment amount. Does $495 a month work for you? Can you negotiate it to a lower price – a price that fits more within your budget? How about $395 for 60 months? Sure, that works, sign me up.

In today’s society, we live by the payment plan.

Combine your phone, Internet and cable together in one easy payment plan – $129 a month.

Mobile technology? No problem. Add up to 5 mobile devices, unlimited data, 500 minutes and we’ll give it to you for $179 a month.

New house? Sure. With an ARM loan, we can get your payments down to a low $1,500 a month. Does that work for you?

The payment plan is now a part of just about every industry in existence. Furniture. Energy. Even my daughter’s college offers an interest free payment plan.

So why not photography?Why The $99 Payment Plan Is The Future Of Photography

Lets say you design a portrait opportunity with all the bells and whistles. They get a morning session with you, inside and outside portraiture, unlimited clothing changes, lots of poses and combinations that separate your family into groupings. You provide creative framing options, coffee table albums, lots of options when it comes to display. Sure they can ala carte it all out. But what if you offered one complete “package” that includes everything from the sitting fee to the final images – all for the unbelievably low price of $199 a month for six months – no interest payment plan of course. Doesn’t that sound more reasonable than a $1200 package? It does to your clients.

Have a wedding photography business? What is the average amount of time a bride and groom will be on your books before you shoot the wedding? 6 months? 12 months? 18 months? Instead of selling them $2,500, $3,500 or $5,000 packages, what if you created monthly payment packages instead?

Lets say you offer an all-inclusive wedding coverage. Unlimited time. Unlimited images. Albums. Framed prints. Extras. Whatever you choose to include in the “package” covers the entire event, beginning to end. Now lets give it a price tag of $5,000. Yes, a lot of brides and grooms will panic when they hear $5,000. But what if we changed it around?

We offer a 6 month, 12 month or 18 month wedding plan. A 6 month payment plan of $833 a month, a 12 month payment plan of $416 a month, or an 18 month payment plan of $278 a month.

All of a sudden the pricing seems a whole lot lower, right? And it does to your clients as well.

Plus you get the added benefit of guaranteed income in the coming months, which also means you won’t face the age-old photographers’ nightmare of high season and low season, feast or famine when it comes to incoming clients and payments.

Have you tried the payment plan? How is it working for you?

What Does It Mean When Sears/Wal-Mart Portrait Studios Shut Down?

So what does it mean to the photography industry when more than 2000 studio locations across the US shut down? That was the announcement last week when financially struggling CPI Corp, with locations in Sears and Wal-Mart stores, decided to shut down its outlets.

You can look at it in two ways.

1. The photography industry is doomed. Digital photography has done so much damage to the industry as we know it, that even big box store can no longer make a profit. People can take quick portraits with their own smart technology, and share it in dozens of ways. They don’t want the 8×10 on the wall anymore, and have no desire to sit through a traditional family portrait anymore.

2. People have no desire for the “stand on the x” portrait experience. Everywhere they go, there is someone with a “camera” in hand. From standing in line at the movies, to playing at the park with friends, cameras and quick action images are now something that’s part of our every day life.

What Does It Mean When Sears/Wal-Mart Portrait Studios Shut Down

Which one resonates with you?

I go with option 2.

People use to go to Sears or Wal-Mart for a quick way to remember the year in photos. When they wanted to send out holiday cards, or even update the photo on their desks, they loaded the family up in the car and spent a couple of hours at the big box store. It was their best option.

Not so anymore. Now, everywhere they go, they have the ability to shoot an image. If their child looks cute in line at school, they take a picture. If the family is enjoying a picnic in the park, they shoot a few pictures. Then they load those up as wallpaper to their computer screens, and voila, instant memories on their desks at work. Who needs a frame with a photograph?

The big box stores made people dress up in ways they didn’t want to, stand on an x they really didn’t feel comfortable with, and pretend they are all happy, even though they’ve spent the last 45 minutes trying to keep “Johnny” happy as they sat in line, waiting for their turn. That fake smile just wasn’t worth it anymore.

Today’s world is changing. People’s ideas of photography are changing too. And unfortunately, many photographers don’t get that. They’re still trying to sell old world photography to a new marketplace. I hear all kinds of questions surrounding this issue every day.

“Should I give them the images on CD rather than make them buy a package with a 16×20?”

“Should I be concerned they only want digital images?”

Nope. Its not clients that need to change. Its us as photographers that need to change.

Its not that people don’t want photography any more. They do. But they want something more than the standard “stand on the x” format. They can do that themselves. They want something that says “WOW”.

And they don’t want an 8×10, they want a digital file to do with as they please.

Is there a problem with that? Nope. You just have to charge for it.

Dig Deeper >> Making Them Pay For Social Media

How do you think this latest shut down will impact the photography industry? I’d love to hear your take on things.

Why Are You So Negative About Your Photography Business?

I literally read it every day.Negative Photographer

“All you give is pie in the sky advice. Everything’s great. How can you say that when it’s anything but?”

“People are awful. You can’t trust anyone. I want to provide quality work but I have to deal with all of this ‘stuff’ within the industry. Why can’t I just shoot and be the artist I want to be?”

And I feel your pain. I really do.

But when I read things like this, I know there is very little I can do. I can’t turn a switch in your brain and make you look at things differently. I can’t rework all you’ve done up until now to come to the conclusions you’ve reached.

I read a great book recently – one I would highly recommend. You can read it in an hour or two if you put your mind to it. It’s a fast read. But the thoughts are incredibly powerful. Thoughts that will make you think about how you approach things.

The book is Risky Is The New Safe by Randy Gage. I’ve followed Randy for years. I’ve attended one of his seminars. I love his “no bull” approach.

In this book, he wrote something I’d like to share. Something I’d like you to take to heart.

“Take the same opportunity and offer it to a broke person and a wealthy person, and I guarantee you they will see it differently. When I was poor, I looked at everything through the lens of the mind viruses I was infected with. No matter what business venture I was exposed to, I approached it with the beliefs that you need money to make money; you need an education and have to know people, and so on. I could look at anything and immediately give you 15 reasons why it wouldn’t work. While I was accumulating all the evidence why it couldn’t be done, people with prosperity consciousness were simply doing it.

For those many years I was struggling financially, I was a cynic. And nothing kills innovation, creativity and ambition faster than cynicism. It’s poverty consciousness.

Wealthy people have a healthy skepticism that causes them to evaluate things objectively and make good decisions based on solid assumptions. Skepticism is healthy; cynicism never is. Here’s why: If you ask the wrong question, the answer doesn’t matter. “

Make sense?

If you ask why the photography industry has changed, why you can’t make money the way you used to, or why consumers are terrible for wanting the digital files, you’re asking the wrong questions.

If you ask how you can change your pricing structure to give people what they really want, look for alternative ways to build your photography packages, or ask how photography will impact people in the coming years, you’re on the right track.

Photography isn’t dead. In fact, it’s anything but.

We read a lot now. But that’s changing. We’re incorporating more than ever into video and audio. We’re a graphic society. We attract through imagery. We’re obsessed with quick pictures. We love color and vibrancy. And that’s not going to change.

But the way our society lives, works, moves and thinks is changing.

Go back a hundred years or more, and it took a generation to get a new idea into place. Now it takes a year, or even a few months.

With that much change, it’s hard to wrap our brains around new ideas. Even before we come to terms with one idea, we’re on to something else.

But don’t think photography is alone. Ask anyone in any industry, and they’ll probably start talking about the chaos. Look at the music industry. Or the publishing industry. Or education.

Watch this year’s TED prize winner – Sugata Mitra and his wish to design the future of learning. Its simple. Its brilliant. And I couldn’t agree more.

Everything is changing. And yes, it’s difficult at times. Mind-blowingly difficult.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun and exhilarating and full of potential.

What if you approached one thing differently today? Instead of saying “this sucks”, what if you said “I’m going to do one great thing?”

I know it’s not easy to believe this. I know it’s not easy to do this.

But what’s the alternative?

Our Top Photography Posts Of 2012

What does 2013 hold for you?

In many ways, you can look back to the previous year to learn all you need to know for the future. And as we went back and looked at everything we’ve written and posted in 2012 – and what your favorites were too – we discovered a wealth of information that can help you as we roll into the New Year.

If building up an income stream from your photography business is on your list of to-do’s for 2013, get started by looking through our top posts and using the information to help you as you plan out your coming weeks and months. Here is a list of the most popular:

5 Secrets Professional Photographers Will Never Tell You

I remember when we first started out in photography, we would look at the professionals who had “made it” within the industry and somehow think they were different then us. They had a fan base stretched out around the world. They traveled to exotic locations to photograph their clients. They were featured in magazines and talked on stages in front of hundreds of people.

They were real photographers. And deep down we questioned all the time whether we had what it takes to make it to that level….read more>>

10 Steps To Becoming A Better Photographer

When you read the title of this post, what was your first thought? Did you think “better photographer” meant learning how to use your camera more effectively? Did you think “better photographer” meant taking better photographs? Did you think “better photographer” meant building a stronger, more successful business?

In reality, it can mean all of this and more. Photography has so many facets; each one you delve into can take years to learn and perfect.

Yet if you had to sum it up in 10 steps, what would they be? As I thought more about it and looked back over the past 20 years I’ve been a photographer, I realized I didn’t just look at it from a “taking pictures” angle. To me, being a better photographer also means building the business. And since that is the purpose of this blog, I thought I would divide it into 10 steps…read more>>

15 Things You Should Never Say To A Professional Photographer

What are some of the funniest (or maybe scariest) things your clients have ever said to you? I know we always said we should right a book with all of our experiences. Clients can say the most amazing things – and most of the time they don’t even realize the implications of what they are truly saying. Take a look at these 15, then come up with your own…read more>>

How To Start A Photography Business Without Wasting Money

What made you decide to take your love of photography to the next level and start a business with it?

Perhaps you aren’t sure if your 9 to 5 job is secure; will it really be there for you in the near future to pay your bills?

Or maybe you’ve seen a program on television that inspired you to the lifestyle some photographers have. I’m always inspired when I watch Art Wolfe’s Travels To The Edge.

In any case, your new business venture can very quickly take on a life of it own. As you begin to learn more about the business side of things, you’ll find things that are hard to live without. Training programs. New equipment. And so much more…read more>>

14 Do’s and Don’ts To Win Over Your Photography Clients

The key to a great business is having great clients. Here are some simple rules to ensure that your customers love you and want to use you again and again. And again. Do find your competitive edge. What makes you special? What makes you unique? Its not just your passion or your love for the business. It has to be your approach to photography and the way you run your business. Find that one unique thing that sets you apart and use it to bring in a ton of clients. Don’t badmouth your competition. You probably have one or two competitors who you think very little of. They run their business completely against your ethics and you know “dirty little secrets” about them that makes you have anything but trust. Don’t tell. As much as you know about them, its important to turn the other way and…read more>>

12 Words That Will Change The Value Of Your Photography

This infographic will let you choose your words that will change the value of your photographyread more>>

The 7 Deadly Sins Of A Photography Business

If you are operating a photography business, you are in competition with thousands of other photographers all vying for your prospects attention. When it comes to photographing, many have a natural eye for creating amazing art. But when it comes to running a business, most of them don’t have a clue as to what they are doing. The same problems come up again and again, keeping them away from doing the one thing they want most of all – finding success. So how about you? Do you commit one of these deadly sins with your own business….read more>>

The First 4 Steps To Becoming A Wealthy Photographer

What is the number one reason most businesses fail? It isn’t lack of ideas, lack of enthusiasm, or lack of potential. People go into business for all the right reasons.

Instead, the one reason they fail is they run out of the one resource you simply can’t build a business without – cash. Cash is king when it comes to owning and operating a photography business. There are certain things you can do yourself to avoid using cash – market using Facebook and Twitter, do your own editing instead of hiring, or typing in your own data entry and tax information. Yet if you don’t pay…read more>>

The Code For Blocking Pinterest … And 12 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use It

There are a lot of photographers out there up in arms over Pinterest.

Pinterest allows people to create visual pin boards by finding things online and “pinning” them to a board on their Pinterest account. Because Pinterest is a visual social site, what attracts you to click on things is the photograph. Yet you can look through the images on Pinterest without having to go back to the site of origination to view who’s images they are. Which means there are many photographers upset by copyright infringement – can people really “move” your images around and share them in a variety of ways without crediting you, the photographer…read more>>

Your Blog Post Checklist – Make Your Photography Blog Attractable

Do you blog on a regular basis? If so, you’ve probably posted a few that were anything but complete. You forgot to spell check. You didn’t include the link you planned on using. Or you simply made it a short post because you didn’t know what else to write. Writing posts on a regular basis takes more than talent; it takes a checklist to make sure all of the pieces are included. Even if writing isn’t your “thing”, here is an easy way to make sure every post you create is perfectly targeted towards your more>>

5 Secrets That Make Some Photographers Successful … And Some Photographers Fail

I bet you’re like this: If someone asks how your job is going, you say okay. You may elaborate a little, but it’s just a job. Nothing exciting. It pays the bills. You worry if you’ll get a raise next year, or if your job will even exist next year. But for now, it gives you the income you need.

But I bet if someone asks you what you really want to do, something different will take place: You’ll get that spark in your eye, you’ll sit a little taller, and you’ll feel a little excitement way down deep. You’ll talk about how you’ve been shooting for a while now and really love photography. You met a photographer (or found them online) who is doing something close to what you would love to do. You’re dreaming of turning that idea into a reality … but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So, did I touch any buttons…read more>>

Wishing all of you a prosperous New Year!

To your success,


5 Keys To Finding Clients In The Future

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 5…

Future gold key

Doesn’t the marketplace seem a little overwhelming right now? Everywhere you look, there is an ad for something. You get hundreds of emails a day. Your newsfeeds rotate constantly with new content. Retailers are doing anything they can to bring in a buck or two – several stores in our area are open 24 hours a day right through Christmas Eve.

At some point it all becomes a bit too much … and you simply shut down.

But that doesn’t mean customers still aren’t out there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people that want and need what you do.

They may have shut down as well. They may be so overwhelmed by all that is happening around them, they simply need another way to notice you.

And that’s where we have to be innovators. It’s not business as usual. To market the way you always have will get you nowhere in the coming years. The only way to survive – to thrive – will be to take a new approach.

Key #1: It’s Time To Be The Un-Photographer

At one point in time, cola was all the rage. People loved the bubbly drink, dark in color, sweet in taste. Then something new came along – the un-cola. It brought you a bubbly drink with a twist. The color changed. The taste changed. And it was refreshing in its own right. It took something old and put a new twist to it. You can’t photograph like photographers did twenty years ago. The marketplace wants something new – something different. And yet very few are offering the twist. The one’s that create the twist – the un-photographers – will move ahead in this new industry.

Key #2: Think Of The Internet As A Horizontal Marketplace

How many marketing tools do you need to survive? One? Five? Fifty? There is no right answer. Yet for most of us, it is well beyond one – very few could operate with just a business card. Different people “see” things in different ways. Which is why you need to be in different places, off line and on. A simple website won’t reach out to the new customers of tomorrow. Likewise, just a Facebook page will do little to reach customers that are rarely on Facebook. It requires a variety of tools – a horizontal reach through many different tools. Your blog, a Facebook account, reviews on Yelp, a YouTube channel – all reach out in different ways. And provide you with a wide plane of potential. [Read more…]

6 Tribal Laws That Affect Your Photography Business

I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 6…

“I’m really wondering what to do next year. My business has never recovered from what it was a few years ago. I try and try, but I just can’t find the clients who are willing to spend what they used to. I’m struggling to stay in business and I just don’t know if it’s worth it anymore. People want different things today. They just want digital files to share on Facebook, they don’t care about wedding albums or large portraits above their fireplace. Maybe I should shut my doors and do something else.”

I hear this story again and again from photographers all over the world.

And in many ways he is correct.

What is happening in today’s marketplace isn’t the same as what happened a few short years ago. We don’t shoot film, we shoot digital. We don’t need photo albums, we have our iPads. We don’t need to print a 4×5 to send to relatives half way around the world; we share it on Facebook and they see it instantly.

Times have changed. Which means we must change too or get lost in the shuffle.

Its like selling buggy whips in the era of horseless carriages. If the marketplace is changing and you don’t change with it, you will be put out of business.

Finding Your Tribe

One of my favorite books by Seth Godin is Tribes. A tribe links a small group of people to an idea. It creates a movement. And it is lead by the one person that foresees the change and decides to do something about it.

Will photography go away? Nope. Never. In fact its bigger now than it has ever been in the past.

Yet today’s technology has made “old time” photographers obsolete.

Which means as an industry, we have to find new ways to structure the business and move into a new direction. Seth Godin explains it best; it’s worth the watch. Then use these six steps to help you create your own movement.

Find a group that’s disconnected

This is the easy part. Photography doesn’t exist like it used to. You’ve figured that one out, right? Now its time to look at it in a whole new way. What can you do differently? What can you do to reach out to people that still love photography, yet want something in an entirely new way? [Read more…]

Will Photography Be One Of The 2 Billion Jobs Disappearing By 2030?

What if someone told you the job you were in today, or the job you were truly interested in training for right now, would disappear in your lifetime? Would that stop you from pursuing it?

That was the question that jumped out at me when I read a recent title, 2 Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030.

Think about that for a moment. 2 billion jobs to disappear in 20 years. Considering there are 7 billion people on the planet, and many of them do not hold a “job”, what that is basically saying is 50 percent of all the jobs held today will disappear in less than 20 years. And I don’t doubt it one bit.



At a recent seminar I attended to help my daughter decide on direction at college, the speaker asked parents how many people held jobs today that weren’t in existence at the time they attended college. I held up my hand, along with around 10 percent of the audience.

Will that be even more of a trend in the future? Only time will tell. But with the rapid way our technology is changing, its easy to see how that can be the case.

As I read through the article, one thing became apparent. [Read more…]

You Mean I Can’t Use An Image From Google Images?

A friend called in a panic last week.

“I just received a notice from a lawyer stating I used an image of their clients on my website. It was copyrighted, therefore I owe $750 and must take the image of my site. If I don’t pay, they will continue pressing charges. Is this for real? I found it on Google Images, can’t I use those images?”

Yep, the world of photography is in chaos at the moment.

So we explained copyright laws and how the only images you can use online are images created by you, or images falling under creative commons or royalty free images.

Still the conversation persisted.

“So there’s a difference? If I look through Google Images, how do I know if I can use it or not?”

“You can’t use Google Images. Google indexes all images placed on every site in existence. Some are copyrighted, some aren’t. But you can’t use them. You can purchase images from a royalty free site like Or you can create the images yourself.”

Yep, for good or bad, the Internet and Google have changed everything. With a goal of indexing virtually everything in existence – from photographs to books and public domain information – Google now has become the average person’s best friend.

If you have a question, Google it.

If you have a problem, Google it.

If you need an image, Google it. [Read more…]