Landscape photography is a favorite hobby of many, but few are able to turn it into a full-time income. If your goal is to make money with your photography, taking a specialized approach is something that you should consider.
In this article, we’ll look at why you might want to focus on a specialty, as well as several options that can work well with landscape and nature photography.
Before we get into the details of different ways that you can specialize, let’s first look at some of the most convincing reasons why you may want to specialize.
Stand Out in a Crowded Industry
Simply put, choosing a specialty makes it much more attainable to stand out. There are so many landscape photographers out there, and in order to stand out you will need to 1) have a world-class portfolio, 2) be an expert marketer, or 3) specialize.
Looking at the three options above, specializing is the easiest, and it’s something that anyone can do.
When you choose to specialize, you are in control over how you will be viewed. Specializing will allow you to brand yourself, and you can choose a specialty that aligns with the type of work that you like to do and how you want to be known.
Become the Expert
It’s a much more realistic task to become known as an expert when you take a specialized approach. This goes along with the previous point about branding. With a specialized approach, you choose what you become known for, and if you do it well, it’s a realistic outcome that you will start to be known as an expert or the go-to source in your area of specialization.
Later on in the article when we’re looking at the ways you can specialize, you’ll see some real-world examples of photographers who have done a great job of branding and becoming known as an expert through their choice of specialization.
Increase Your Income
When you’re viewed as an expert, increasing your income is a lot more realistic. Photographers who have effectively branded themselves and established their expertise can make more money by selling more prints, charging higher prices, writing articles for magazines and websites, speaking at events, leading workshops and seminars, and creating online courses and ebooks.
Getting exposure for your work can be a lot easier when you take a specialized approach. One simple example is through Google search. Do you think it’s easier to rank at the top of Google for the search phrase “landscape photographer” or “Tennessee landscape photographer”?
Of course, the specialized approach is a lot easier because you’ll face much less competition. Not only will you face less competition, but the people who are looking for you will be highly targeted and likely to be very interested in your work. They are looking for exactly what you have to offer.
Ways to Specialize
If you’re convinced that specializing is a good approach, let’s take a look at some of the most popular options.
Specializing in a location is a great way to get more exposure for your work and to brand yourself as an expert. You could specialize by photographing the landscapes in your home state or region, and brand your work accordingly. Some photographers also use this approach to become known for their work at a particular national park or area of interest.
James Grant is an excellent example of a photographer who has specialized in a particular location. Although James photographs in many different locations, he’s known for his work in Peak District National Park (England). James has written a guidebook on the Peak District, leads photo workshops (mostly in the Peak District), and his website prominently features his work within the Peak District. He’s a perfect example of what’s possible by specializing in a particular location.
You could also specialize based on the subjects of your photos. The possibilities really are endless, but here are a few examples:
Specializing in a particular subject could be a great way to brand yourself as an expert and sell books/ebooks/courses or even prints of your photos.
Nature photography is a very wide field that covers a lot of different possibilities. There are several different genres that you could choose for a specialization, including:
Those are just a few examples, but of course there are other possibilities.
One excellent example is Grant Collier, who specializes in night landscapes. Grant has written a book (paperback & ebook) called Collier’s Guide to Night Photography in the Great Outdoors. Grant has an incredible portfolio of night landscapes from has helped him to become known as an expert. In addition to the book/ebook, he also offers video training, calendars, and posters related to his work as a night photographer.
There are also some possibilities to specialize based on technical details related to how you take photos. One example is to specialize in film photography. Jon Paul is a Lake Tahoe based landscape photographer that is known for his work with large format film photography. His photos are beautiful, and the fact that they are captured with a large format film camera helps him to be unique and stand out.
Destin Sparks is an Australia-based landscape photographer who specializes in panoramic photos. His portfolio really stands out because of this unique approach. If you’re on a desktop, check out his Instagram profile to see a creative use of his panoramic style.
It’s also possible to use a particular style to brand yourself. For example, you could specialize in black & white landscapes, or you could use a consistent style with your approach and post processing to give your photos a consistent or recognizable feel.
The last option we’ll look at isn’t really impacted by your photos, but it is impacted by how you choose to promote your work or gain exposure. You can use a particular medium and become known for your work there. Instagram and YouTube are two excellent options right now.
Michael Breitung is a photographer from Germany who produces some excellent videos on YouTube. I don’t know how much his YouTube channel has impacted his work overall, but I suspect it has had a big impact (I know that’s how I found his work).
Now that we’ve covered the reasons why you might want to specialize and some different options that you can choose, think about what might be a good fit for you. Don’t rush into this decision because it’s a long-term approach that will impact your branding and you’ll want to make sure that you choose a specialty that works well for you.
Once you’ve chosen an area of specialization, use your website, blog, and social profiles to communicate your area of focus (just look at the photographers mentioned in this post for examples) to start branding yourself.
Photo license links: Unsplash License