How I Got the Shot: The Raccoon That Started it All

A lot of people ask how I got started in photography. So much so that I wrote a few blog posts detailing my journey here. In brief I started doing photoshop contests on the now defunct per the recommendations of a friend for church. My photoshop entries on the site did horrible so I figured I’d give their photography contests a try. I did much better in these and decided to take up photography. I saved up money from mowing lawns (and later photoshoots) to buy various photography equipment.

It was after a trip to the Fred Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan that I decided I really wanted to be a photographer for a living. I was walking around with a monster metal tripod, a relic of my dad’s from the 80s which helped me briefly develop some nice biceps in ninth grade that I’ve since lost. Attached was a used and refurbished manual focus only Nikon 70-300mm lens on a Nikon D40. A fellow visitor waved at me to come over near him. A baby raccoon popped his head out of the leaves just long enough for me to focus and dial in a proper exposure. This was the first image I had taken that I was really happy with. After seeing this image I decided this is what I wanted to do for a living.

Shot using a Nikon D40 with a used and refurbished NIkon 70-300mm on a metal Velbon tripod. Metadata has been lost due to a hard drive crash and how I used to manage files in the past.

Find this article helpful? Buy Ryan a coffee at

Smoke Bomb Shoot with Sam in Clare, Michigan



I had a great time photographing Sam outside of Clare, Michigan in mid April. For this shoot we bought a handful of smoke bombs in a variety of colors to use as a background. In the first series of images shot with a red smoke bomb I shot with natural light. For the rest of the images I added three flashes (two as rim lights) and one as a key light all of which being bare bulb. The two behind the scenes shows had a Godox Octabox on the key light. I decided to stick with the harder bare bulbs so I could shoot at a lower power and quicker. I set my cameras camera intervalometer to take an image every 2 seconds while I moved the smoke around Sam with camera set on a tripod and on manual focus. I had a great time working Sam and look forward to working with her again in the future.

FAQ: When Do I Get to See the Images from My Session?



You will be able to view the images from your session within a week of your session. This turnaround time is also the same for weddings and other shoots unless otherwise stated. These images will be retouched and send to you via a private online gallery. The gallery is only visible to the client and I or anyone the client wishes to share the link with. This private gallery makes sharing images to social media easy as well. Prints and other products can be purchased via the online gallery. Clients are also free to download these images and make their own prints as well.


Bean and Rocio Engagement Session Part 1 in Clare, Michigan


I was incredibly happy when I found out my long time friends Bean and Rocio got engaged on Valentine’s day this year. Bean proposed to Rocio when they were on vacation in Spain.

In March Rocio told me the sad news that her dog was ill and wouldn’t be alive much longer. She asked if we could do some engagement portraits early so her dog could be in her and Bean’s photos and I was on board.

These images (including the “studio” shots) were shot in Clare, Michigan at Pettit Park.

New Personal Work with Model Brittany in Clare, Michigan


I had a great time photographing friend and model Brittany last week in Clare, Michigan. I had wanted to do a shoot out in my parent’s cabin for sometime now. Huge thanks to Brittany for tolerating the fickle weather and bumpy ride back to the cabin.

Headshots with Morgan Roberts of Splendid Events


I had a great time photographing Morgan Roberts from Splendid Events at the Energize Workspace in early April. Morgan was a pleasure to work with. I can’t wait to work with her more with wedding clients in the future. If you are looking for a great local wedding planner I would highly recommend Morgan at Splendid Events!

Hostetler Family Portrait in Clare, Michigan


I had a great time photographing the Hostetler family in late March. This session came together last minute when a head shot client canceled due to weather allowing for an opening for the Hostetlers. The Hostetlers were incredibly friendly and easy to work with. Huge thanks to them for tolerating the rainy weather during their shoot.