A lot of digital photographers make this cardinal mistake when they work on their portfolios. They try to accommodate anything and everything that they have been shooting into one single portfolio, be it a book or a website. Though I am not the one to put some sort of a creative shackle on you, I am going to make one remark though; and that is don’t do this.
As crazy as it seems if you try to portray that you shoot almost anything and everything under the sky, you portray yourself as a jack of all trades. This is never a good thing when it comes to impressing your prospects.
Photography is such a vast subject. It is impossible for one person to know everything. Even after years of practicing as a professional photographer one cannot claim that s/he knows everything. One person cannot be a great landscape photographer and then shoot exquisite wedding photography and punctuate all that with award winning sports photos whenever he gets free time. It doesn’t work that way. There might just be a few incredibly gifted photographers out there who may do it all, but they are more like exceptions and not the general rule.
The importance of finding a niche
Let’s say you are a client and you are looking for someone who can take images of your wedding, which is to be an open air event. Who would you go to? Would you go to a photographer who says he is a creative landscape photographer who also happens to shoot pets and babies? Or would you prefer to go to someone who markets himself as a photographer specializing in outdoor weddings?
Unfortunately, these days, with so many photographers, things have become incredibly cluttered. When a client is researching for a wedding photographer, s/he might go through scores of websites and hundreds of images. After a while things start to get a bit blurry if they all showcase a similar style. This is where a specialized wedding photographer who has a unique style can score. His work will show his unique style and perspective, something that cannot be found anywhere else.
It is thus imperative that you find a niche for yourself. It is more like a genre, a style which you are absolutely comfortable working in and can effectively market yourself as someone who can do great work. It can be the way you post-process your images. It can be the specific lens camera combination that you use which makes your images stand out. It can even be the angle from which you shoot or your approach to shooting a wedding. You can find a style where you try to find an emotional story behind most of the wedding photos that you shoot. That will make your work stand out in the crowd. I heard of a wedding photographer who shoots weddings with a drone! Now that’s unique!
How do you find a niche?
Finding a niche is a tough thing to do. As a beginner photographer, someone who’s only drive to shoot images is the love for photography, you wouldn’t be able to point at something specific straightaway and say that you love shooting this and nothing else. It’s only when you have been photographing for a year or so would you be able to come back and be judgmental about your own likes and dislikes. “I don’t like photographing strangers, street photography is not for me” or “I love weddings and I think I can make a career out of shooting people on their wedding day.”
It is tough but it is not impossible. But once you do find the niche for yourself work on it till you are the best in what you do and you have a portfolio to show for it.
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