What Choosing a Niche you love can do for your Business

Nikita Williams of Crafted to Thrive interviewed me about Choosing a Niche in a saturated field like Photography. I am so excited to share my first podcast interview with you my friends!!

I love this topic because it is so relevant across creative business, not just photography. And truly, it is relevant throughout the business world today!

Podcast Art Crafted to Thrive with Renee Stengel Photography What Choosing a Niche you Love can do for your Business

Niche vs Niche, ‘Nitch’ vs ‘Neesh

Let’s just get prononciation out of the way. First of all ~ I don’t care how you pronounce it!

I actually took a minute to look around, and apparently we are all correct! (or incorrect, depending on how you look at it!)

It seems that the word Niche has changed over the centuries. At present, ‘Nitch’ is correct for Americans and Canadians, but for the rest of the world the proper way to pronounce it remains ‘Neesh’.

So why is it important to Choose your Unique Niche?

Whatever way you pronounce the word, why is the concept important?

Nikita and I had a great chat about how I found my Niche in the Underwater Portrait Photography world and how it is has helped me grow and succeed.

Podcast Art Crafted to Thrive with Renee Stengel Photography What Choosing a Niche you Love can do for your Business

I have included a section of the transcript below, but if you would like to skip straight to the full podcast for a listen, please head here!

Please leave a Podcast Review!

While you are there I would be ever so grateful if you would take a few extra seconds to leave a review for Nikita. She is an amazing host, and the very least I can do is to rally my Tribe to help her out with a few positive reviews!

You see, the podcasting world is also one that has become a bustling marketplace.

And just like all small businesses, Podcasts are dependent on positive reviews to help them move forward and grow. Those reviews and downloads help Crafted to Thrive get seen more often so that Nikita can continue to serve the audience she loves to Bless!

Pair of Blue Snowball Podcast Mics Underwater on Tiffany Blue Table

From Choose a Niche to Bless and Release

Host Nikita Williams:

Hey you guys, I am so excited for this episode because I have a really amazing and talented and heart-centered and passionate water photographer. She is an underwater photographer. Her name is Renee Stengel. She is amazing at what she does.

I mean every time I see her work I just cannot help but just be like, wow. Like it’s amazing and you’ll hear me love on her about this in the episode.

But what I love even more so after having this conversation with Renee is that she has always been true to what she loves to do. She’s had many life hurdles. Some new to me.

I’ve been following Renee for over two years at this point and I’ve really seen many different things in her business. We’re in the same mastermind as well. So I’m just so honored and privileged to have her on the show.


If you are feeling stuck, if you have life hurdles and you’re trying to figure out how to connect or find your passion, how to stand out in a saturated crowd, you definitely want to stay tuned for this episode because Renee is going to share her journey.

And some mindset that I think has allowed her to continue to capture the things that she loves to do them and find people who love her for doing the thing that she loves.

I think that is ultimately what everybody really wants in their business.

To do something that they absolutely love and find a tribe and find a people that want to support and cheer them on.

So stay tuned and can’t wait to see you on the flip side!

I’m so awkward.

Stay tuned.

Host Nikita:

I love it. Every time I see a post, I’m literally raving about it.


Oh, thank you. It’s definitely not for everybody and not all that common, you know? And so it’s fun. It’s really fun to create in that space and to work in that space. So I love it. It’s a passion. And it has to be because it’s not an easy space to work in.

But it’s fascinating and creative and challenging and I love it.


Well, I know I kind of just jumped in like being super excited about the awesomeness that you do, but please introduce yourself and let everyone know who you are, where you are, which is important. We’ll jump in a little bit after that.


Okay. I’m Renee Stengel and my studio is Renee Stengel photography. I’m in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am an underwater portrait photographer.

So I have been a photographer forever. I don’t know if I want to say how many years because that ages me. But, well over 10, or 15, or more…

I was a posed newborn photographer and had a studio in the Washington DC area. For my husband’s job we moved to Kansas city and then we moved to Charlotte and we’ve been in Charlotte for almost four years.

When we first got here, I said, done no more. I’ve started two studios. I’m just going to focus on my boys.

I have three boys who are now 4, 10 and 12. My husband works long hours, travels a lot. And I was like, I’m just focusing on them.

About a year into that, I was like, eh, I adore my boys, but I’m a better mom and a better person when I’m creating.

Charlotte Underwater Photographer Freediving at Ginnie Springs with Ikelite Underwater Housing
Branding Photo taken at Ginnie Springs by Christi Allen Curtis Photography of Tampa Florida

Creating to Thrive

A lot of people can create for themselves without running a studio and do an amazing job of that. I see some moms that are just creating art and creating photography of their own kids and they’re not working and not running a business and they’re doing an amazing job!

But for me, I need the challenge of working with other people and other clients.

I take pictures of my kids all the time, but I need different challenges than that.

And so I started my business again and thought that I would jump into family photography, was trying to figure out how to incorporate beach sessions.

The beach is about three hours away from here. Well, three and a half, but with the way I drive, it’s three. And so I was trying to figure out how to make that work.

Underwater Housing

I had bought an underwater housing for my camera several years ago when we lived in Virginia. I’d had an accident, didn’t walk for about nine months and had to put everything on hold. I got very angry about that, that I finally invested in an underwater housing and, and couldn’t use it. And so I put it in the back of the closet.

It never came out of the packing box in Kansas. It stayed in the basement, in the storage unit. And when we moved to Charlotte and I was finishing unpacking later that year, when I finally got around to finishing those last few boxes, I found it.

We had built a pool after we got here. I jumped in the pool and tried it one day. And that was it. I was in love. And so, I just knew.

Underwater Swimming Pool Splash and Bubbles in the deep by RENEE STENGEL Photography Charlotte Underwater Photographer |
The bubbles we can create in the depths of this swimming pool are amazing. Sometimes I work in my Underwater Studio to create commercial or stock images, sometimes to create Fine Art Images, and sometimes I create images just for the fun of it!

I had found my passion.

So that summer, 2018, I got in the water as much as I could. I had some paid sessions, but a lot of sessions I just crafted for myself, asked people specifically, I need a model for this and a model for that.

I crafted the sessions that I wanted to craft to build my portfolio and to build my skills.

Charlotte Underwater Bride in Purple Dress with Pink and Lavender Bokeh Bubbles and White Orb | by RENEE STENGEL Photography
RENEE STENGEL Photography | Charlotte Underwater Portrait Photographer | Underwater Fashion | RCB Fashion Lavender Gown

And last year it took off. So I’ve only been at it two years? Not quite two years now, but, it’s amazing and I love it.


Wow. That was the quick version right there. But yes. You know what is interesting is that I feel like I’ve been a part of your journey since you started doing this! Which I didn’t realize until you went through the timeline and I was like, Oh my gosh! I have literally watched you create this niche and I felt like was like no way, she’s doing it.

What has this been like as you’ve been featured in magazines, you’ve been featured on these beautiful art exhibits and things like that.


Well it’s, yeah it’s been, it’s been a wild ride. So I’ve been on the local news a couple of times. I’ve been in photography magazines and local online magazines.

It’s a fascinating niche to people. So, because it’s so unique there are not a lot of people that do it.

NAPCP INSPIRED Magazine Low Light Theme Featured Artist Renee Stengel Photography Charlotte Underwater Photographer
June 2018 Feature in NAPCP INSPIRED Magazine

There are other people in Charlotte who have underwater skills, but there’s no one else who has chosen that as their focus and as their primary focus for their studio. I have my own pool and I have my own equipment.
So that gives me the opportunity to just do that.

I thought I would shoot three or four months a year and thenshoot other things the rest of the year. I have a studio and I still love working with babies and with children and all of that. But I just haven’t had time because the underwater has taken off so quickly that that is dominating my schedule.

So that’s what I’m doing.


I am so excited for you. And now I’m like super excited because I realize I’ve been watching you from the get go and this particular niche. I don’t think I would have found you had you not done this niche, if you were doing your traditional photography that all photographers are doing. I love photographers and not that I’m knocking that, but it is really hard to differentiate yourself in this market…

Head to the Podcast

Head on over to the podcast if you would like to hear the full interview!

Choosing a Niche in Underwater Photography Podcast with Crafted to Thrive | Blue Snowball Podcast Mics, Yellow Vintage Phone and Orange Fiestaware Teacup Underwater on Tiffany Blue Table

And thank you again Nikita, I absolutely loved my first podcast experience with you.

I loved chatting about what is has meant to my business to choose a niche, or, in my case, to allow a niche to choose me!

Renee Stengel Photography | Charlotte Underwater Photographer



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