Why do I need to specialize to start a photography business? I certainly do not want to turn away business.
Do you really, though? I’m sure there are some areas of photography that you love and others that you do not enjoy so much. Specializing your photography business is something you need to do right from the beginning. It is a common mistake of new photographers to take on anything and everything, because it is really hard to turn down business. Even seasoned and experienced photographers feel the same! Remember, you cannot be a specialist in everything.
Benefits of specializing:
- You can focus your time and energy into the areas of photography you enjoy the most.
- It is easier to identify and attract your target market.
- You are less likely to burn out, since you are photographing what you really love.
What is the difference between photography style and specialization?
A “style” of photography is how you shoot. A “specialization” is what you shoot. For instance, here is a list of common specialities of people (or pet) photography:
- Small Families
- Large Families
Let’s take a broad example of the specialization of Children. There are several different styles of photography within that type. You could be natural or you could be prop-focused. You could have styled or themed sessions or just photograph the children on-location or at their homes.
How do I narrow down what to specialize in for my business?
There really is not a right answer to this question. It’s something you need to answer for yourself and determine what’s right for your business. Even established photographers are guilty of attempting to specialize in everything, so if this sounds like you, keep reading! I have listed below some questions to ask yourself that will guide you towards 1-4 specialties:
- From the above list, what are the top 5 most appealing to me?
- Which types do I have experience photographing?
- Which ones are in demand in my area?
- Which ones are not in demand?
Now, here is the big question that should really help narrow it down:
Envision your business successful and thriving. Income is not a factor. What are your business’ specialities?
If income is not a factor, what would you shoot? Don’t let your business be driven by the your insecurities about losing business and money. Have the confidence in yourself to know what you want to shoot, right from the start.
I know what I want to specialize in, however I lack the experience and/or equipment. Where do I go from here?
This is a very common problem. The equipment issue is easier to solve, because all it takes is money. You could get a loan (with your business plan), use credit, or the old-fashioned way, save up for new equipment.
Lack of experience is a little tougher to overcome. A few suggestions:
- Contact local photographers in your area to see if they are in need of an assistant or intern.
- Depending on your specialty(ies), you can offer significant discounts off your full prices to build your portfolio and your experience.
You need to get out there and use your camera in the specific situations, just like you would do if you were shooting for your business. Photographing family and friends helpful, however getting in front of actual clients you do not know is much more pressure. Whatever you do, I do not suggest jumping into the industry if you do not have much experience, especially weddings. There are no “do-overs” with weddings. If you mess up or miss a shot, it cannot be replaced. If you are serious about being a wedding photographer, I strongly recommend you be a 2nd photographer for other photographers for at least a year. The knowledge you will gain in that year is priceless and vital to the success of your business.
If you are starting your business, reflect on what you love to photograph and start your business from there. If you are an established photographer having a difficult time turning away all clients, take a step back and analyze how your want your photography business specialized. You will happy you did!