Defining Your Niche

Outside of being a military photographer and running a wedding photography business I also on occasion shoot other photography contracts.  To be honest I take a lot of non-wedding related paid contracts.  That can be anything from family shoots, to business headshots, to commercial work.  Even though I don't market or actively seek out other work, it's just the nature of the business: people will come to notice your work and seek your style out for other applications.  To that end I have developed portfolios in a few other areas that you won't likely find anywhere online -- at least not with my name attached to it.

I absolutely love shooting wedding photography, but at the same time I also love photography in general.  So why then don't I post my other imagery on my website?  Well it's because it doesn't match my niche.  My business is a wedding photography business, not a family portrait business, a fitness marketing business, or an industrial/residential roofing photography business.  Even though I've made substantially more in some commercial contracts than I have in shooting wedding/engagement photography, it doesn't befit my business to post imagery from other fields onto a wedding photography website.

When you're building your business you need to choose what your niche will be.  It can be as broad or narrow as you want, but realize that going too far in either direction can restrict you or deter business.  Brides don't want to hire the guy whose site has more food marketing shots or pet photography than photographs of people, so be selective in what you post online; be sure that it supports your niche and try to view it from the perspective of your potential clients.  Also, if a bride were to Google your business name, or your personal name, and all that came up were photos of metal roof shingles, it wouldn't inspire confidence in you as a wedding photographer.  Aim for consistency in the product you're putting online.

That isn't to say however that you should avoid those contracts, quite the opposite!  Shooting outside of your niche often means shooting outside of your comfort zone, and that's a good thing.  It pushes you to grow as a photographer, and it allows you opportunities to both network and make a bit of cash which can support your niche.  Sometimes, particularly when you're starting out, it's hard to get as many contracts as you'd like to get, so don't close the door on something you might think of as unorthodox given your chosen field.  You never know, you may just meet someone who needs a photographer in your field for another project, so put your game face on!

 
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-Wes.