What can you do? Strategy...
We are going to start with the assumption that you have already accepted that the key to earning money in stock is quantity, quality, and time to shoot. We have discussed the subjects and image characteristics that image buyers seek. We have discussed the business or entrepreneurial attitude that a photographer must develop, moving beyond unfocussed creativity, art school enthusiasms and offers that look to good to be true. We can now follow with a philosophical strategy question. To be general or not to be? What are all of those guys in stock forums talking about when they say “the key is to find and fill your niche?”
You can find examples of very successful photographers in both camps, niche photographers and general photographers. Shooting images that other people can´t or don´t shoot certainly gives your images value and can help you avoid competing with thousands of other photographers’ general images. Focussing your work to a very specific niche might enable you to gain a perceptible presence faster.
The downside of being a niche photographer is that when seasonal/economic downturns come to the market which buys your kind of images, you can be left high and dry, without a sale in sight. You haven’t diversified your risks in a volatile market, and that is dangerous. Remember our market segmentation tool? That is why we think it’s important for you.
While we certainly encourage photographers to specialize their imagery in order to achieve greater depth and quality, we also believe that it is in the vital interests of the photographer to provide photos to different markets. So, our conclusion to this on-going debate is: Be as specialized as you can, but also, shoot as many general images as you can. Do stop the car to shoot in a vineyard if the light is right even if the niche you like the most is shooting city skylines. Don’t put all of your photographs in one basket!