Most professional photographers will agree that differentiation of your photo skills and subsequent specialization of your photo service offerings is key to sustainability & success. However, there are probably some varied opinions out there regarding when to specialize.
Some would probably argue that it’s never too soon to narrow your focus and dive right into that singular target market. That way, you can streamline your marketing and networking strategies, as well as begin honing your abilities in a specific genre or style.
In actuality, it’s not necessarily a bad way to go.
But if you’re just starting out with generally limited experience and trying to maintain a viable lifestyle as a working photog you could actually harm your chances for longevity via uber-specialization too early in the process.
As time goes by and you’ve reached a level of notoriety within specific buyer circles it’s probably a good idea to narrow your range of photo services by re-assessing the profitability of the photo segments you’ve targeted.
However, my advice would be to avoid narrow-specialization and branch out into as many genres, segments and styles as possible at the entry/early phases of your company development in order to keep afloat financially.
Sole-proprietor photography business start-up costs and yearly photo business operating expenses (although relatively low in comparison to a lot of other business ventures) will require that you ‘get into the black’ quickly so you can stay on top of general life expenditures…namely paying the electricity bill, telecommunications bills, monthly grocery tab and other standard cash out-flows that define normal daily life on planet earth.
Once you’ve experimented in a wide range of photographic settings, built technical knowledge and expanded your stylistic capabilities, following your own calling and specializing in the area of photography that is most fulfilling to you comes next.
Keep in mind, this is the horribly rational perspective from earning a Master’s degree in business seeping into my aforementioned advice.
Without question, the passion and creative expression that drives us as artisans is undeniably at the root of our chosen profession. But the information on this blog is meant to help illuminate the all-too-often disregarded business practices that will ultimately define whether photography remains an impassioned hobby or blossoms into full-fledged career.
So in that regard, remember that there are nearly limitless photo market segments out there — some with astronomical price-points and others with extremely limited budgetary ceilings — but specializing too soon in your photo business development process will likely hinder growth as a business person, as well as prevent you from expanding your skill-set as a creative arts professional.