18 Jan Scratching A Niche
Photographers have photographer friends. It’s only natural – like interests and all. This can mean that the bond is shared knowledge or work, and sometimes a business connection. There can also be model friends or collaborator friends – though the latter is an awkward phrase.
They also have rivals. These can be simple business competitors, club mates, or workers in the same artistic or academic field. The fiercest struggle is in the club. Murder, weak coffee, and cheap biscuits are the constant features of camera club life.
The wise photographer seeks to find a special place for themselves that is free from these sorts of interferences – a secure niche in the structure of the art – or of the trade, for that matter. Something that allows them to be seen and, if possible, praised and rewarded independently of the activities of others. There have been many such in the past.
HC-B was the pre-eminent street photo journalist – Atget the loner taking record shots of shopfronts. Both could have been in the same Paris street at the same time yet neither would have interfered with the success of the other – such was their division of endeavour. They had their niches and kept to them.
Likewise the would-be baby photographer here in Perth – should she perfect her art and adjust her prices and advertise successfully, she need fear no loss of income to people who shoot hot rods or weddings. The keenest food photographer can drool over the illustrations they do and not interfere with the pet studio. Just as well, animals can be nervous creatures.
Have you a niche? Can you think of one? Do you want to do something that you want to do or are you going to settle for doing what someone else wants you to do? The latter is fine if they pay you a living wage for it, but as soon as the financial reward starts to look paltry it is time to follow the former pathway – do what you like photographically and find another way to gain money.
I came to this conclusion about two years ago in respect to my little studio. I kept on doing weddings because I like them – I’m just a sentimental softie at heart. I left off trying to do maternity except for friends – I’m not imaginative enough in that line to do a good job. I do dance advertisements and costume advertisements because I like the theatricality of it. None of this is a living wage – I get that writing columns for the shop and train robbery – but all these types of work helped me to sell cameras when I was behind the counter – they exercised my skills and fed back knowledge.
My real love is model worlds. Here I get nothing but pleasure – but I get a lot of it. There’s enough material for two blogs and a rack of fake magazines. There is always something new to see. And to buy, for that matter. It is a niche that keeps me sane and satisfied.