Never Stick to a Single Genre of Photography

How do I find my niche in photography? Should I specialise in one type of photography? How can I be a specialist in photography?

Many questions often asked by photographers and often the answer given by pros will not necessarily be the best for you.

Since I started photography I have been interested in many genres. This was mostly because I enjoyed photography as a whole and didn’t immediately think there was a potential for business. So my only concern was to have fun, carry my camera everywhere and shoot what I fancied.

I shot London urban landscapes, photos of insects with a macro lens, people in the streets of London, landmarks, graffiti… everything!

Increasingly, I focused on certain types / genres which were naturally more available to me, since I live in London. So you’d find me taking photographs of street art, urban landscapes and street photography.

Brochure urban landscape photo I shot for the London School of Economics

Brochure urban landscape photo I shot for the London School of Economics

Street portraits of Londoners I shot for Match.com

Street portraits of Londoners I shot for Match.com

Today I have eventually narrowed it even further and shoot a majority of street photography in London and fresh cinemagraphs.

However I refuse to accept that a photographer should only shoot one genre. Only weddings, only street or only food. Especially with how competitive today's photography industry is.

It is said to be perceived as trying to be a Jack of all trades master of none and the common thought is that only rare exceptions can achieve that.

I disagree. Our incredible brain, I am certain, can handle quite more than mastering one genre of photography in a lifetime so why not do it?

We are also conditioned to think, mostly through articles written by so called authorities, that it’ll be perceived negatively by clients. “Oh this photographer hasn’t found their niche”.

This is just not true. How do I know that I hear you ask?

I know that because I have managed to become a successful professional London photographer working with top international brands on various projects, often completely unrelated.

Don’t get me wrong though. If someone asks you what you shoot as a photographer you have to be able to explain it in less than ten seconds without confusing them.

Adidas Sports Cinemagraphs

If someone asks me what I shoot, my reply is something along those lines:

“I’m an urban photographer who specialises in street photography. I also create attention grabbing cinemagraphs and micro video content for brands’ social media marketing

Sure, the cinemagraph / micro video content bit tends to require sometimes further explanation but that’s because these still are fairly new to some.

Campo Viejo Wine Cinemagraphs

But what I’m getting at is I don’t bore people saying… “and I also shoot flowers, graffiti, burgers and puppies”.

Now going back to where I started, there is nothing wrong with marketing yourself as someone who’s a bit of a Swiss army knife.

In my case I regularly get requests and jobs from clients covering various aspects of what I do.

I’ve created sports cinemagraphs for Adidas. I’ve shot automotive cinemagraphs for Peugeot. I’ve produced food and wine cinemagraphs for Campo Viejo Wines. I was commissioned by Street Feast in London to shoot street photography style images for their website, shot in their night food markets. I’ve photographed street portraits of Londoners for Match.com.

Street Feast - Model Market

Street Feast - Model Market

Never has one client looked at my existing client list thinking, “Hold on… does this guy know what he’s doing?”

No, instead I think they’d look at my client list thinking I am resourceful and know how to use a camera in various conditions which is kind of what a photographer should be able to do.

In the case of Peugeot for example, I delivered a mix of cinemagraphs and professional photographs. So they get a good deal having different and exciting content to use on social media. Photographers have to be able to add value to their clients.

Peugeot - New 208 - Light Painting

Peugeot - New 208 - Light Painting

Peugeot Automotive Cinemagraph

So please don’t let what you read online limit what you can achieve.

Don’t let articles decide for you what your focus should be.

If you fancy different genres, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming good at a few. It’ll bring you more opportunities that way. Just be careful that they can somehow work together on a website. If you look carefully at my site, you’ll see that even if I list urban landscapes, street art, London street photography and cinemagraphs, the end result is all can be grouped roughly under London urban photography. 

And finally, the benefit of practicing various types of photography is that it can teach you different skills, transferable skills. Landscapes and street taught me composition and use of natural light, graffiti and street art have taught me the importance of a powerful background, etc…

Hope you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share on social media!

Nico