Beth Genengels is no stranger to the Reset Conference, and returns this year as an instructor rather than an attendee! Beth is a fine art, portrait, and commercial photographer based out of northern Illinois and the Chicago area. She is Certified Professional Photographer through the Professional Photographers of America. She’ll be teaching on studio lighting at Reset 2018, so be sure to check out her class! Read on from Beth…
What’s in a Niche?
When photography and I were in our honeymoon phase, I shot
everything, and I mean everything I had the to opportunity to shoot. When no opportunity arose… I shot blades of grass and flowers and my cat. I didn’t really know who I was as a photographer, but I knew I was a student. I wanted to learn how to shoot newborns, and families, headshots and commercial, seniors and everything under the sun. I educated myself as
frequently as I could with conferences like Reset and *PPA’s Imaging (Professional Photographers of America) and always heard you needed a niche.
A niche, huh? Truly that tidbit of information left a crease in my brow. It seemed so unfair that I needed to choose. It’s like choosing between classic chocolate and amazing rocky road ice cream. Some days you choose one, but get the other the next time. I can’t imagine never having rocky road again, right? So what’s a niche? Most photographers will tell you to niche, you focus your efforts on one genre. Be it babies or weddings, seniors or families, you stick to “what you know” (remember that for later.) This helps brand your business, people will know you for what you do. Marketing-wise, this is genius, and a marketing genius I am not (Someone point me to
the business classes at Reset, please.)
After feeling defeated in my quest to pick one genre, I dove into examining what I know, what I like and what I dislike. Forgive my wimpiness when I list a few of these out. I wouldn’t own up to them for just anyone. I am a rule follower, and I get really anxious if I think I’m breaking them. So shooting without a permit or permission makes me
nuts. I am also mosquito bait. Beautiful grasses at dusk make my heart swoon but my ankles itch. I shoot straight manual. If I totally mess up my exposure, it’s because I switched to aperture priority or shutter priority. So on a partly cloudy day, my fingers get quite the workout. Consistency with color temperature, air conditioning, locations with my name on the lease… These all added up to control in my book and a lightbulb went off. Could a niche be something other than the type of subject we are shooting? Why the heck not?
Hey, my name is Beth Genengels and my niche is studio photography. I shoot fine art, newborns, seniors, families and commercial. And when I go on location, I take my studio with me and I still have control over my light. I discovered my niche in control, not a genre. I prefer people portraits and fine art over everything else. The lightbulb moment I had when I dove into this exercise was that a niche doesn’t have to be genre specific, but you need to specify something unique about your style.