Corey Senior Portrait Session Mount Pleasant, Michigan

I had a great time photographing Corey a few weeks ago at Nelson Park in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. For the best images from the session view the slideshow below.

New Personal Work with Dylan Newman in Mount Pleasant, Mi

I had a great time shooting some personal work last week in Nelson Park in Mount Pleasant with my friend Dylan. I love shooting personal work because it gives me the chance to experiment with different ideas and techniques and, in this chase, it also gave me a chance to meet up with an old friend.


Huge thanks to my friend Dylan for modeling.


My Journey as a Photographer (part 3) – Why I Became a Portrait Photographer




This is a continuation of my two prior posts My Journey as a Photographer (part 1) and (part 2). The two prior blog posts describe how I got into photography and the time before my formal photography training at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.


After graduating high school I moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts to study at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. This is one of the best choices of my life. Hallmark’s intense ten-month program gave me the knowledge needed to become successful in this industry. I came into Hallmark with an open mind and left being changed forever.


We studied a variety of different styles of photography at Hallmark including commercial, editorial, and fashion; but it was portraiture that stuck. It was also here that I decided to pursue portrait photography. I loved meeting the fellow Hallmark students who came from all different parts of the country and even different parts of the world. I also enjoyed meeting the models, artisans, church members, musicians, professionals, and distant relatives I got to meet while in New England.


I became a portrait photographer because I love creating images for people that they will cherish for years.

There are other subjects besides portraits I enjoy shooting like nature, architecture, and pretty much anything is a potential subject in my current personal series #iPhoneography, but none of these are as fulfilling as creating images of people and their loved ones which will retain sentimental value for years to come.


I graduated from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in June 2013 with the Highest Academic Honor and am now living in Clare, Michigan where I run my own portrait photography business and do freelance retouching.


How to Improve Your iPhoneography


I love to shoot with my iPhone! I bring it with me everywhere and the image quality is surprisingly good. I even have an entire series dedicated to images photographed with it. Here are some tips for how to get better images with your smart phone.

Use Editing Apps but with Caution

I use VSCOcam, Mextures, Matter, and Filmborn to edit my iPhone images. When used right these editing apps can really enhance your images, but some filters can look awful. Most of my iPhoneography will have sharpening and contrast adjustments done in VSCOcam. I personally try to avoid filters that make the colors look unnatural in most cases. In the end your filters should enhance the photo; you can’t save a bad image with a ton of filters.

Realize Your Camera Phone’s Limitations

Smart phones sensors don’t work well in low light. Night shots and indoor images at night probably won’t turn out well when shot on your phone. These will usually result in underexposed noisy images. When shooting with your phone try to stay in well-lit areas.

Another limitation of smart phone cameras is there low dynamic range. In laymen’s terms it can’t keep details in scenes with extreme lights and darks. An example of this would be a landscape with a dark foreground against a bright sky. Your phone’s camera would only be able to retain details in the shy or the foreground. The HDR feature on many smart phones can help with some higher contrast scenes. In many scenarios you’ll only have detail in either the lights or darks. Even lower contrast light ensures details throughout the image. Intentionally letting parts of the image go pure white of pure black can make for interesting images as well.

Zooming on the iPhone 5s is the same as cropping. This cuts down on the quality of the image. Instead of zooming walk closer to your subject if possible. Avoid cropping in to far on the images as well.

Understand Composition

Understanding composition is critical to creating any good image. Avoid distractions in the background. Try having things frame your subject or use leading lines to draw your viewer’s eye to the subject. Do some research on composition before you go out and shoot next.

Find Interesting Subjects

Regardless of your equipment images with interesting subjects always look better. Aim to find interesting subjects.


I experiment with weird abstracted shots all the time. Sometimes these images work and sometimes they don’t. Play around and try to create something unique!

To see my latest iPhoneography follow me on Instagram @ryanwatkinsphotography.


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