The wedding photography industry can be described in one way: over-saturated. With this in mind, it can be an overwhelming and discouraging thought to stick out from the crowd. However, creating a niche for yourself is a surefire way to get seen by more clients.
Creating a niche for yourself within photography may seem counterintuitive. After all, as entrepreneurs, professional photographers ultimately want to attract as many clients as possible. When starting out in business, one may think that becoming a jack-of-all-trades is the best way to go. As photographers, we know we’re capable of providing many types of photography and therefore have the flawed thought process that by offering many types of photography, we can get more clients. This is false because consumers looking to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on photography are actually interested in a specialist. When you market yourself as a jack-of-all-trades, you’re basically saying, on a subconscious level, “I do all of these things and don’t specialize in anything.” And even after you’ve decided on a specific type of photography to offer (e.g., wedding, family, cooperate, etc.), it’s still a good idea to find a niche within that specific type of specialty.
Carving Out a Niche for Yourself
Within wedding photography specifically, there are several ways to give yourself a niche, and therefore an edge over your competition. When it comes to offering a specialty, the more specific you can get with your niche, the better.
Finding a niche for yourself in wedding photography begins by discovering and deciding what you love most while photographing weddings. A good starting point for determining what your niche will be is to list all the various types of weddings you currently shoot. Big weddings, small weddings, traditional weddings, unconventional weddings, or small elopements are just a few ways you can break the broad category of “weddings” into smaller sub-categories. Which type of wedding do you like photographing most? Which kind of wedding are you finding your ideal client is booking?
As an example, I love elopements. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to specialize in elopements. However, stopping at specifying my niche as “an elopement photographer” is still not specific enough because I know the market for elopement photographers, particularly in my local market of Las Vegas, is still over-saturated. And as I mentioned above, the reason why you want to niche down to a specialty is so you can stick out, not get lost in another sea of photographers who also “specialize” in a general specialty. You want a specific specialty.
Price Yourself for Your Niche
Pricing can also play a big part in helping establish your niche. For me, as an elopement photographer, I knew I needed to focus on higher-end elopements because the venues I prefer to take photos at have a higher cost associated with them. By pricing myself higher, I’m able to attract the type of clients who want the high-end elopement experience that I offer.
By deciding what type of wedding I want to specialize in, and a specific price point I prefer to specialize in, I’ve already gone from being a “wedding photographer” to being an “elopement photographer” and now a “high-end elopement photographer.” This is already a much more specific niche. But we can go even further with the niching process.
Consider Your Ideal Client
Also knowing who your ideal client is and what they love will help you discover your niche. Some clients absolutely love the idea of a big traditional wedding, and if they are your ideal client, you may want to consider specializing in grand traditional weddings, as an example.
When I sat down to discover who my ideal client was, one thing I decided was that I loved clients who were up for an adventure. During past elopements, I would always get my best work and have a fantastic time with clients who wanted to elope in the middle of the Nevada desert. This helped me to realize that my niche had to do not only with elopements but with adventurous couples and the desert.
Getting Even More Specific
Niching down even further begins by going back to your big “why.” What is the reason you became a wedding photographer? Why do you love photographing weddings? When thinking of a specific type of wedding you love, what are the reasons that make you love it?
As a high-end elopement photographer, my big “why” is not that I want to make more money. Making more money is a happy byproduct of having a niche. My “why” is that I love creating an adventure for couples. I love being able to take a wedding day and make it a memorable experience for clients. I know that my ideal clients hate the idea of a big traditional wedding day and all the stress that can come along with it.
With all of the above in mind, I can turn my niche from a “wedding photography” to “an elopement photographer” to “an elopement photographer that specializes in adventurous and spontaneous desert elopements.” And there we have it. A particular niche that is going to attract a very specific type of client, which is precisely what I want.
When considering your own niche, don’t forget to include the type of wedding you love to photograph, who your ideal client is and what they love, the venues and locations you love, how to price yourself, what type of clients are attracted to your local market (e.g., the city you’re based in), and your big “why” (i.e., why you got into photography in the first place). You’ll notice that as you discover your niche and start marketing yourself with your niche in mind, you’ll begin to attract far more of the clients and weddings that you want to photograph, and not just the clients and weddings that happen to come along.