Photography Niche: How to Choose the Right One for Your Business

Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you have to shoot every style of photography. There are so many different kinds of photography, it would be impossible to excel at every one of them. Rather than try to be good at many different types, it’s best to choose a photography niche and master it.

When you’re just starting out as a beginner, it’s perfectly natural to try your hand at several different niches of photography. In fact, this is one way to help determine which one will be the best choice for your photography business.

This guide will explain how to choose the right niche for your photography business. You’ll discover:

  • Why it’s important to focus your expertise on a particular segment of the industry; 
  • Tips to help you choose what niche is right for your photo business;
  • Some of the most popular photography niches; 
  • Money-making strategies for each photography niche.


What is a niche in photography?

A niche is a small segment of a larger market. In photography, each niche will have its own unique set of characteristics, clients, and technical skills. For example, the skills you use as a real estate photographer are unique to that niche and are quite different from the skills you’d use as a wedding photographer or a sports photographer. 

While the fundamentals of photography are the same across the board, the needs of your clients, the equipment you might use, and even your earning potential can be very different from one niche to another. When you’ve mastered the fundamentals of photography and are ready to start your photography business, it’s time to start thinking about what niche you’ll enter into.


Why is it important to find a niche?

There are so many different kinds of photography — I could easily list over 100 right now — that trying to master (or even learn) them all would be impossible. Rather than be a mediocre photographer who does a little bit of everything, it’s infinitely better to be a photographer who excels at one or two styles. 

When you’re a master at your craft, your art is in demand. You can charge more. You can have more clients. You can be proud of your work. The idea is to be great, not just good. And, you do that by focusing your talents, being unique, and establishing yourself as one of the best at a particular style. 

If you think about your favorite photographers, or any of the most famous photographers of all time, they all specialized in a niche. Ansel Adams, Peter Lik, Annie Leibovitz, Michael Kelley, Anne Geddes, William Wegman, and others, all got to be household names because they mastered their specialty.

niche photography - landscape photographer
Could you be a  landscape photographer? Photo by Annie Spratt

How to choose the right niche for your photography business

When you’re ready to focus your skills on a particular style, how do you decide what niche is right for you? When you were learning to be a photographer, you probably tried many different types of photography and naturally felt yourself leaning toward a particular one. Let your instincts guide you. 

But if you’re still undecided, the following questions will help you figure out what niche will be a good fit for you and the market you live and work in:

What do you enjoy photographing? 

It’s important to like what you do! After all, you plan to do it for a good portion of the rest of your life. For example, I am a pet photographer. Now, imagine if I were afraid of dogs. It wouldn’t make sense for me to choose this as my niche, would it? What kinds of pictures do you like to take?  

What are you good at?

You might be blown away by landscape photography but if you haven’t been able to take a decent landscape photo no matter how hard you try, perhaps you’d be better off pursuing a different niche. So ask yourself, what types of photos are you best at taking? Additionally, are you a people person? Do you have a lot of patience? Are you very technical? Do you have the requirements for the niche you’re considering?

Does it require additional, specialized equipment?

niche photography - underwater camera housing
Some specialized equipment can be extremely expensive. Photo by Jakob Owens

Some photo niches require a lot more than just a camera, a wide-angle, and a telephoto lens — and some of them can be extremely expensive. For example, you may need to invest in some specialized lenses like a tilt-shift or a macro lens. Some wildlife photographers’ lenses are many thousands of dollars! You might need studio lighting or a drone. Or, did you know the waterproof housing for an underwater camera often costs more than the camera itself? Take these into consideration when you’re choosing a niche.

Additionally, you’ll need to consider the amount of editing and post-processing that’s required. Do you have the software, like Photoshop, Lightroom, or similar applications, and do you know how to use it? Depending on the niche you enter into, you may need to learn additional software, like those created especially for HDR or panorama-stitching. 

Does it pay well enough to make a living?

You may love a particular niche, but can you earn enough to pay your bills, or should you keep shooting it as a hobby and focus on a niche where you can earn real money at? If you’re looking for a career in photography, look for a niche that pays

Is there a lot of competition in your area?

A lot of photographers aim for the most popular types of photography — portrait, wedding, family — and that’s because the market is bigger, the niche is easier to get into, and they pay well. However, that means there’s usually more competition. If you’ve got your heart set on a crowded niche, one way to stand out is to find a niche within a niche. For example, don’t just be a pet photographer but specialize in equine photography.

niche photography. equine
Equine photography is an example of a niche within a niche. Photo by Erin Dolson

Do you live in an area where that suits the niche?

Thinking about the equine photography example above, if you live in a city where horses are commonly kept, ridden, and raced, that could be an exciting and lucrative career choice, and it is for many photographers. However, if you live in a New York City walk-up and the nearest horse gives carriage rides in Central Park — well, that probably won’t be a suitable choice for you.  


5 of the most profitable photography niches

To help you with choosing your niche, we’ll explore some of the most popular niches in photography, discuss the type of equipment you might need, and talk about how much money you could earn in that niche. 

We’ll also talk about some of the winning strategies by the top earners in each niche to help you decide if that niche still sounds like work you’re interested in pursuing. Then, we’ll recommend some top photographers to follow in each niche to inspire you.

1. Wedding Photography

niche - wedding photography
Wedding photography is an extremely popular niche. Photo by JAN Pictures

Wedding photographers tend to be extremely busy — not just shooting happy couples on their big day, but scheduling, traveling, editing (so much editing), meeting with potential clients, and promoting their business. The actual time spent behind the camera is surprisingly low. On average, a wedding photographer will shoot between 20-35 weddings per year.

There are a lot of wedding photographers, and you’ll probably find that there’s a ton of competition no matter the market you’re in. That’s because the barrier to entry as a wedding photographer is pretty low. You can do it with a camera and a couple of lenses and you can charge whatever someone is willing to pay you.

Earning potential:

An average wedding photographer charges between $3,000 and $5,000. Multiply that by 25 weddings per year and the potential gross income is $125,000. After expenses like a second shooter, taxes, website, education, business & travel expenses, you’re more likely to get closer to 60% of that.

But, if you want to be a top earner, and if you want to be a photographer who consistently gets booked out a year in advance and charges five figures or more, then you need to invest in yourself, invest in your business, and work your butt off to be better than everyone else in your area. And, market yourself in addition to that.

Top wedding photographers to follow:


2. Commercial Photography

commercial photography niche
An example of commercial photography. Photo by Mahbod Akhzami

A commercial photographer focuses on shooting photos for advertising and promoting products and services. These photos might be used online or in magazines. Product photography, business headshots, some real estate, and fashion are all types that fall under the commercial photography niche. Commercial photography caters to business and corporate clients rather than individual customers who purchase photos for personal use. Being organized and professional is of utmost importance.

It’s very important, as a commercial photographer, that your work is premium quality. That means you need to have mastered your technique. Clients will look to you for photos to use in print ads, packages, e-commerce, digital media, brochures, and more. Your photos will represent their brand, so they have to be perfect. 

Product photography most often requires a studio with artificial lighting. You’ll also be expected to handle post-processing using industry-standard software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. 

Earning potential:

Commercial photography can be a lucrative business, especially when you start working with large corporate clients and land bigger jobs. When it comes to commercial photography, the money is in the licensing. So, first, you’ll charge to shoot the image. Then you set a licensing fee based on how the client intends to use your images. For example, if they want to use the photos on their social media page for two days, they could pay a lower fee than if they plan to print 500,000 catalogs that will circulate for a year. 

Well-known photographers (who have agents representing them) can make up to $5,000 a day just to shoot. And that doesn’t include any licensing fees. Beginners who shoot for small businesses will charge a much smaller hourly rate of closer to $250. Where you live and work plays a major role in how much you can charge, too. A big tech client in California is accustomed to paying much higher invoices than a small customer in South Carolina. That said, it is absolutely possible to bill $20,000 or more for a single commercial shoot. But, that won’t be without a lot of hustle!

Top commercial photographers to follow:


3. Newborn & Family Photography

Family portrait niche. Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

Family photography is an immensely popular niche of photography. If you’ve got a passion for people and a way with babies, in particular, you’ll find newborn and family portrait photography extremely rewarding. The fact that you can earn a decent living at it is just the icing on the cake. 

If you want to specialize in newborn photography, you will need special training. Safety should always come first. The newborn photos you see are often heavily edited to hide the extra precautions that were taken to make sure the baby was kept 100% safe. In fact, they are usually more than one image stitched together to remove hands. In addition to post-processing software, newborn photography also requires studio lighting, posing bean bags, and lots of props.

Family photography is a bit simpler to pursue than newborn photography. You won’t need a studio unless that’s your style. And you won’t need the extra safety training. You will need a hefty dose of patience and a knack for posing people.

Earning potential:

Newborn and family photographers charge anywhere from $100 to $2,000 for a session, depending on what the market will allow. The session usually lasts an hour and a half to two hours. This session fee may or may not include any photos. 

Some photographers will offer a lower session fee and then make their money selling prints, photo albums, and canvases of the family’s favorite images. Others will have a much higher flat-rate fee that includes digital files of the images with a print release. There are pros and cons to each pricing structure. It all depends on which one is a better fit for you.

Top newborn and family photographers to follow:


4. Real Estate Photography

Real estate photographers can make a great living in a hot market. Photo by Binyamin Mellish 

Depending on where you live, real estate photography can keep you extremely busy or could just be a part-time gig. In order to find out if it’s a good niche for you, you’re going to need to do some research. Generally speaking, though, if you live in an urban area where there are a lot of homes for sale, you can count on a decent market for real estate photography. That said, you’ll also need to consider the state of the real estate market. If no one is buying, you might need to pick up some other work.

Real estate photography does require some special gear. You’ll need a wide-angle lens. A tilt-shift is desirable, but not absolutely necessary. A tripod is needed. Expand your business by learning to fly a drone to take external images and video. Learn how to shoot 360-degree photos to make yourself even more valuable. You’ll also need to know how to edit or hire an outside service to do it for you.

Earning potential:

Most real estate photographers charge around $100-$300 per property, depending on the square footage. Obviously very large, luxury properties demand a premium but they also only expect the very best images in return. This price includes the cost of editing, and that often takes more time than the shoot itself.

The need for Airbnb and other vacation property photography is increasing a lot. The price you can ask for is much higher than the one-time license for a home sale since these photos are used over and over again. Keep that in mind as an option to earn more money.

Top real estate photographers to follow:


5. Boudoir Photography

niche photo - boudoir
Depending on your market, boudoir photography can be very lucrative. Photo by Michael McAuliffe

Boudoir is another photography niche that may be dependent on where you live. But, you might be surprised to know just how popular this type of photography has become over the past several years. It’s quite common these days for brides-to-be to book them as wedding gifts to give their new husbands. Women who reach a milestone age, like 35, 40, or 50, or those who go through a big life change are booking boudoir shoots as confidence boosters. 

Boudoir doesn’t require much extra in the way of gear, but you do need a special set of skills. You need to be able to make people feel comfortable in awkward situations. You have to be the kind of person that puts people at ease no matter how silly, insecure, or uncomfortable they feel. And you need to have a strong knowledge of how to pose people and direct them so that they look their best. 

Earning potential:

It is absolutely possible to earn six figures as a boudoir photographer. I have a friend who is doing it. But not by charging a $200 session fee. She’s booked out for a full year. First, she is incredible at what she does. She knows poses that make everyone look their absolute best. And when we look that good in a photo, we are happy to buy those prints, and those photo albums, and anything else she will sell us. But she’s killing it with social media. She hustled all the way to the top. And she’s still hustling from up there. 

Top boudoir photographers to follow:


Photography niches you never considered

As we said, there are so many different kinds of photography! Here are some you may not have even considered. In fact, some of them are so specialized that you might not even have any competition if you chose to specialize in one or two of them.

where to sell your niche photos.
One place you can sell your photos is online. Photo by picjumbo.com

Where to sell your niche photos

Now that you’ve settled on a niche, where will you sell your photos? Luckily, there are a number of places you can sell your photos. Here are some ideas: 

Clients: Obviously, if a client hires you, they’ll be your customer and you won’t be able to sell your photos anywhere else. However, you should ask them if they’d be willing to sign a release so you can post the photos on your social media and website for marketing purposes.

Stock photo websites: If you’ve got a large library of personal photos, why not sell them as stock photography? Some photographers make a full-time wage just by selling stock photos!

Your own website: If you don’t have one yet, you should start building your own website so you can display your photo portfolio. We recommend using an easy builder like WordPress. If you do, we’ve done the hard work already and picked the best themes for photographers

Then, use the Modula gallery plugin to make the most of your website’s portfolio — like adding watermarks, various effects, grids, zoom, and so much more.


Final thoughts

As a beginner, the more different types of photography you try out, the easier it will be for you to choose a niche. You’ll also find that there is more than one kind that you enjoy and that you can see yourself doing as a living. So, take those few options and then dig deeper and do some research into which would be better as a career.

What types of photography do you enjoy? Have you chosen a niche yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Chime in by posting a comment below.

Brooke Arnold

Brooke Arnold is a writer and award-winning photographer specializing in cat portraits. She is an advocate for rescue animals and is best known for dressing up her cats as famous people like Bob Ross and Evel Knievel. Her biggest claim to fame, however, is being child #2 in an orange juice ad that hung in a mall in Miami at age 8.

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