There are different photography niches to get into, but many photographers aren’t sure of the scope of the niches. Just knowing what they are doesn’t help — you also need to know what it takes to succeed in them.
By getting a broad overview of the options available, you’ll know where your talent lies and how you can make the most of it. Matching your skills with the right photography niche ensures your photography business will take off.
What Are the Different Photography Niches?
There are different photography niches depending on the intended client or audience. While they might sound similar, portrait photography differs from family photography. Taking pictures at weddings requires skills that you might not need for stock photography.
Being good at photography is a great talent, but if you want to start a photography business, it’s best to have a niche. Read on to find the photography niche that would be the right fit for you.
Portrait photography is so much more than going to a department store and posing against a boring backdrop. Photographers have elevated portraits into an art form that captures the subject’s unique personality.
Instead of posing against a wall, professional photographers try to tailor the background to their clients. This gives completely different looks to graduation pictures compared to annual portraits parents get of their kids.
Many of the most eye-catching portraits are candid, so the photographer needs to be able to develop a rapport with the client. Put them at ease to capture them laughing, smiling, and having light shine from their eyes.
Anyone can get a half-decent picture thanks to portrait mode on a smartphone’s camera. But that’s not what portrait photography is about. Portraits are all about the personality of the subject, and that’s what a true professional can capture.
Family photographers capture the whole family — and all their personalities. A portrait photographer needs to have people skills to capture a smile or laugh. However, a family photographer needs to easily wrangle several people at once.
It can be tough to get everyone to smile at the same time, and you also have to make sure you’re catching everyone with their eyes open!
Like portrait photography, family photography isn’t limited to the studio anymore. Some families might want posed pictures, but usually, they want a variety of options. You might know beautiful or interesting locations for family photos in your city. Or the family might suggest a favorite place — or even ask you to photograph them in their home.
Family photographers often develop a relationship with their clients so they have repeat customers. You can photograph a family with their firstborn, then when the second child is born, when the children start school, and so on.
Families also love holiday photos. Getting into family photography means you should make yourself available before major holidays. Think of cute backdrops or unique locations where you can get interesting family photos. Customers love to use these images on cards and social media — which can bring you even more business in return!
Wedding photography is a huge industry, but not everyone enjoys it. It’s a stressful field because the couples have spent a lot of time and money planning their big day — and all their loved ones are watching. They want everything to go smoothly, and wedding photographers have to blend in to not disrupt the proceedings.
Even though you need to fade into the background, you also need to capture every key moment. There’s no stopping the action to recreate the first kiss because you missed it. Because of the pressure, many wedding photographers use second shooters. An additional shooter can ensure the happy couple gets photos of every moment.
Wedding photography used to be very formal and posed, but the style has evolved over the years. Wedding photographers still take photos of the couple getting ready, bridal party shots, ring close-ups, and family portraits.
But many couples now do a first look, which is an emotional moment to capture in a photo. They might also ask for a more journalistic or candid style throughout the ceremony. The bridal party photos might be silly or casual compared to traditional posed shots.
If you run a business as a wedding photographer, you might also photograph related events. These might include engagement sessions, anniversary photos, and more.
Event photographers are usually hired for concerts, parties, corporate events, and club openings. When you work as an event photographer, you might have several different stations. You can take portraits as guests enter the establishment and then transition to getting action shots once the party starts.
Event photography often involves low lighting and a lot of motion. You need to have different skills than portrait or family photographers. Some clients might want photos of what’s going on at the event, but if you can also make those pictures tell a story, you’ll get repeat business.
These days, brands, clubs, and restaurants want to look like the place to be — not because they’re trendy, but because they’re worth it. Taking event photos that give everyone else FOMO ensures your client will invite you back for future occasions.
You might think that newborn photography falls under portrait photography, and you’re technically right. But taking pictures of babies is trickier than asking adults to stay still for a portrait, so it counts as its own niche.
Newborns aren’t as wriggly as infants, but they still need special considerations for a photoshoot. Since they’re so sensitive to light, you have to use certain equipment to harness the natural light.
Posing is a bit more difficult as well. Newborns can’t control their bodies, so you have to find a good position and quickly get the photos you need. They can’t control their temperature, either, so you might need to make the studio warmer or colder to keep them complacent.
Oh, and another thing newborns can’t control? Their bowels. You’re going to want to be very careful with your equipment if you choose this niche!
Pet photography can feel pretty similar to newborn photography when you consider how aware the subject is about what’s going on. Animal lovers excel in this niche because they have a special connection with animals that put the pets at ease. When an animal loves you, you’ll see that reflected in their comfort levels in the photos.
If you’re able to wrangle pets, you’re going to have fun taking pictures of them. Many people love dressing up their animals for portraits, whether it’s a bright new bandana, a full costume, or a silly prop.
You can get a few standard portraits of the animal but also take some candid shots. Like when photographing people, you want to capture the pet’s personality. Action shots are a great way to do this. Ask your clients to bring their pet’s favorite toy or a treat and let them have these items while you’re snapping pictures. Your client is sure to love the outcome.
Animals lovers with an adventurous side might choose wildlife photography. This photography niche is similar to what you see in magazines like National Geographic. You capture animals in their natural habitats, so every image is candid and tells a story about a certain place in the world.
Since you’re filming wild animals, you need incredible gear to ensure you can get clear images from far away. Safety is a huge concern, so telephoto lenses are a must. You’ll also want to invest in quality glass so there won’t be motion blur when you capture the animals running.
Many professional photographers who do wildlife photography also do travel photography. They do so because visiting animals in their natural habitats requires extensive travel, so you might as well cover that side of the trip, too.
Travel photography is nothing like vacation snapshots everyone takes. These photos are usually in series and tell stories about a specific place. You can sell travel photography series to magazines like National Geographic and similar outlets, or even to tourist-centered organizations.
Some cities or countries hire travel photographers to show their location in a good light and boost commerce. Being a travel photographer is not only adventurous, but you can often write off travel expenses if you end up selling the photos as part of your business.
Landscape photography refers to the subject matter, not the orientation. With these images, you capture the vast natural beauty of a location. You might take a literal landscape photo of vast fields, or you could use portrait orientation to convey the height of the redwood forest.
This niche is fascinating for photographers who love to explore. You can spend an entire day in nature, capturing the different way the sun filters through the trees, getting a vibrant shot of the sunset, and even taking low-light photos of the stars in the sky.
Because so much of what you capture in landscape photography is still, you don’t need to upgrade to expensive gear. If you have the eye to see something interesting in a landscape, you’re going to excel in this niche. You can sell these photos as prints, list them on stock photography sites, or shop them around for nature and outdoors magazines.
Still Life Photography
Still-life photography is a niche that’s hard to define in one way. Many photographers consider it part of commercial photography, while others say it’s more related to product photography. No matter how you label it, just know it’s a great niche for making money.
Everyone needs still life photography. Brands like to see layouts of their products on social media, print ads, catalogs, and even billboards. Think of images influencers post where they’re showing products they unboxed from a sponsor — that’s still life photography.
The key to still life photography is having a good light source. While natural lighting is usually best for pictures of people, products are different. You need stark lighting that eliminates shadows, otherwise, the products won’t look true to life. Most professional photographers use lightboxes for their still life work.
Fine Art Photography
Portraits, pets, family, weddings, and similar styles of photography are all about capturing the moment. You want a person to have a way to look back at themselves at this moment. Fine art photography, on the other hand, is purely about the artistic appearance of a piece.
When you take fine art photographs, you’re creating images that people will want to blow up and frame to hang in their homes. You might sell artwork to hotels, offices, and restaurants. You might list prints online for customers to buy.
You don’t necessarily need any special equipment to get into fine art photography. The most important aspect of this niche is to develop your style. You don’t want to produce images that look like everyone else’s, because then your work won’t stand out and you won’t make money. If you have a unique style, fine art photography is your niche.
Some photographers think abstract photography is a subset of fine art photography. This niche of photography is more artistic than you’d think wedding photography is, for example. Just as abstract paintings only give you a vague sensation or emotion, abstract photos don’t usually have a clear subject.
Many abstract photos don’t even look like they’re images from a camera. They might look like paint or fabric or a digital drawing. But finding something abstract to take a killer photo of requires a specific eye. If you’re always drawn to the small, unique patterns and colors you see within larger things, this might be your niche.
Macro photography is similar to fine art and abstract photography because it’s so beautiful in such a simple way. The subject of a macro photograph is tiny, but you’re showing it larger than life. To do this, you’ll need a special macro lens, along with knowledge of the camera settings that help you get the clearest close-up image.
Several niches on this list will use macro photography, such as wedding photographers taking ring detail shots. But when you get into this niche, you’ll find that it has a life of its own. There’s no limit to what you’ll capture through a macro lens.
Food photography isn’t snapping a picture of your plate and posting it to social media. This niche might take more patience and skill than even wedding photography, believe it or not. There are lots of behind-the-scenes tricks to make food look good. You can’t just go into a restaurant, order a meal, and expect something worthy of a magazine feature.
Getting into the food photography niche means you not only have a great eye for composition but also understand what it takes to create a great shot. A plate of food isn’t going to look the same in an image as it does to your eye, so it requires some prepping. You also need to have decent photo editing skills in case the colors or tones are off in the uploaded image.
Sports photography is a niche that requires a lot of passion and expensive equipment. You need telephoto lenses to capture the action in some sports. You’ll need high-quality glass that eliminates motion blur. You’ll have to know the exact settings for the image you want to catch.
As with weddings, in sports photography, there’s no chance to get a redo of that shot you missed. You have to always watch the action and snap pictures at the right second. A slight shutter lag could prevent you from getting the front page shot. Understanding the sports you’re photographing will also help you know what to look for and what images news outlets will want.
Fashion photography is what most people think of when you tell them you’re a photographer. They imagine people taking photos of models, which is part of what you do in this niche. However, you’re not focusing on the model — you’re usually showing off what they’re wearing.
If you’re into fashion, this is your niche. You’ll love focusing on the way a dress drapes on a model’s frame or the way shoes draw your eye to their feet. While you’ll also take full body shots to show the whole outfit, you’ll learn how to spotlight the subject of the ad or editorial.
Several of the niches on this list could fall under the umbrella of commercial photography. You can shoot food photos for a restaurant’s ad campaign, and that would be commercial photography. Still life images for a brand count as commercial photography. Anytime you’re taking photos of something that will sell, you’re doing commercial photography.
Within this niche, you can find certain areas for your skills to excel. Maybe you like taking photos of people modeling clothes for fashion brands. Maybe you’re better at staging a location and photographing a room. There’s always a need for commercial photography, so find your interest and look for clients in that field who will use your services.
As opposed to commercial photography, which involves posing, street photography is complete happenstance. When you’re walking along and see something interesting, grab your camera and take a photo. That’s street photography. It usually focuses on people, vendors, and graffiti. As one of street photography tips and tricks, the images are often black and white or in low-light settings to help tell a story.
This niche is more of a passion project because many brands don’t use this gritty style. However, uploading this type of image to stock sites can help you make some passive income.
Photojournalism is a photography niche that resembles a documentary-style approach. Instead of posing people to take pictures, you’re capturing everything as it is. You’re an observer taking images to show everyone else, similar to a reporter.
Photojournalists typically cover the news, whether it’s local or something major happening in the world. You take photos of the event to tell the story, even if they’ll accompany a written piece in the paper or magazine. These images can be just as emotional as other niches.
Some people think that stock photography is similar to product photography, but there are no limits to the subject matter for stock. You can list images of any type on sites such as:
Once you upload your images, other people can license them to use in ads, on websites, for blog posts, and more. You’ll get your work out there and make money without having to pitch it to magazines or brands. It’s a great way to ensure you’re working as a photographer and making passive income while freeing yourself up for other projects.
Real Estate Photography
The photography niche of real estate photography could fall under the umbrella of commercial photography, but you have to have precise skills. Realtors need photographers who can take pictures of a room and make it look inviting. They stage their houses to look a certain way, and you need to amplify that.
Real estate photographers use wide-angle lenses to make the space look larger. This lens also allows in more light, so rooms look naturally beautiful.
Great pictures on a listing will bring people to see the house, which can lead to a sale, so honing this skill can pay off in the long run.
Finding the right photography niche for you depends on your talents and interests. If you don’t like crowds, stay away from wedding or event photography. You might be better suited for still life photography instead.
If you have any questions about different photography niches, leave them in the comments.