Tony and Abi Brunetto Wedding in Onaway, Michigan

Last week my second shooter Nikki Robinson and I had the privilege of documenting Tony and Abi Brunetto’s beautiful wedding day at the Old Lodge at the UAV in Onaway, Michigan. We had a great time getting to document this super laid back couples wedding in Northern, Michigan. To see more from Tony and Abi’s wedding follow this link.

Ryan’s Images

Nikki’s Images 


FAQ: Will You Travel To The Location Of My Choosing?


Yes. I primarily shoot portrait sessions in Clare, Mt Pleasant, and Midland but am more than willing to travel for sessions and weddings. I have done several sessions in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Detroit, and other locations around Michigan. In most cases the travel will not increase the cost of the session unless the location is incredibly far away from my hometown of Clare. If you have any questions about having me photograph your destination wedding or session contact me here.

Chris and Emily Willaims Wedding in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Last week I had the privilege of documenting Chris and Emily Williams’ beautiful wedding day at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After the ceremony Chris and Emily had be follow then via golf cart around Quail Ridge for couples portraits followed by the reception. Here are just a few of the highlights from Chris and Emily’s wedding day. To see more from Chris and Emily’s wedding follow this link.


How I Got the Shot(s): The Rainy Weddings and Engagements

When I was a student at the Hallmark Institute of Photography during Phase 1 (similar to the first semester) almost every time we had a shooting assignment outside it would rain. It rained so much my class had a hard time getting used to shooting when it was sunny out. Due to this I am no stranger to getting caught in the rain during a shoot.

Usually when it rains (or looks like it is going to rain) the client will chose to postpone the session (there is no extra charge for this). With some shoots (like weddings) or distant location shooting rescheduling can be difficult or impossible. When I first shot Sean and Melissa’s engagement session at Camp Anna Berens in Greenville, Michigan it was cloudy (making for a beautiful light in the forest) but the rain was holding off. After a few shots closer to our cars we ventured deeper into the woods. Then a torrential downpour started. Luckily they were good sports about it and had fun kissing and running thru the newly formed puddles. My gear is weather sealed so I had no problem continuing to shoot in the rain. The soft light diffused by the rain clouds and feathered by the dense forest made for beautiful light despite the circumstances.


Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Lens. ISO 3200  (higher than I usually like to use but necessary in these lighting conditions) 86mm f/2.8 1/50 of a second (longer than I usually use with this lens hand held but it was dark and still worked because I held the camera steadily).


Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Lens. ISO 3200 80mm f/2.8 1/125 of a second shutter speed.


Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Lens. ISO 3200 120mm f/2.8 1/160 of a second shutter speed.

Two months later Sean and Melissa would get married and have the getting ready and reception at the same place I had photographed them for their engagement session. And just like during the engagement session it rained. We had to make a few minor last minute adjustments (like where to have the group shots) but otherwise the wedding still turned out great despite the showers.


Shot using a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 Lens. ISO 1250 105mm f/8 1/100 of a second shutter speed. Lit with a Yongnuo Speedlite YN560-II with Westcott Pocketbox 8×12 and triggered with Yongnuo 506N-II Flash Triggers.

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2018 Mt Pleasant Craft Beer Festival

I had the privilege of being the the official still photographer for the Mt Pleasant Craft Beer Festival for the second year in a row. I always have a great time photographing the festival and this year was no exception. Below are my favorite images from this year. 


Valentine’s Day Couple Portrait Session Winners Ryan and Megan

Back in February 2018 I held a contest giving away a couples portrait session on Valentine’s day. The winners were Ryan and Megan who tied with another couples. We decided to wait for better weather and do the session itself in early June. Ryan and Megan were great to work with. All of the images were photographed in Howell, Michigan. 



FAQ: What If I Can’t Meet in Person for My Pre-Session Consultation?


When it is possible I prefer to meet in person for the pre-session consultation. If you can’t meet in person we can conduct the consultation over Skype, Facetime, or phone call. Due to the slight delay I get when conducting Skype or Facetime calls I usually prefer phone calls so the conversations sound more natural. If you have further questions about setting up a pre-session consultation feel free to contact me here.

Dispelling the Rumor Mill

Sadly one of the realities of living in a small town is that misinformation spreads like wildfire. I’ve caught wind of enough inaccurate information being spread about my business (or myself personally) that I think it is necessary to address the issues. I assume that most of these have been spread due to honest misunderstandings and only a few have potentially started with malicious intent. I was voted the “most chill” by my classmates at the Hallmark Institute of Photography so this post comes with some reluctance, but I think things have gotten to a point that several issues need to be addressed.

Rumor 1: I Live in (insert anywhere but Clare, Michigan). Fact: I live in Clare, Michigan.

One of the most common things I hear is that I live somewhere I don’t. To clear up any confusion I live in Clare, Michigan and have most of my life (excluding when I lived in Greenfield, Massachusetts when I was in college). I was considering moving to Grand Rapids for a period of time but that plan never worked out. Since graduating from college I have always lived in Clare, Michigan. Many have misunderstood and thought I currently live in Western Michigan or that I live somewhere on the east coast (I get Boston and Brooklynn a lot for some reason) but neither of these are correct. I do in fact still live in Clare, Michigan.

Rumor 2: I don’t give clients photos from their session. Fact: Clients receive a private gallery with the images from their session within a week of their shoot.

A more recent (and what seems to be more malicious rumor) is that I don’t give clients the photos from their session. I have never once NOT given clients the photos from their session. In 2017 I did change up how my session process works. In the past I have used different models that more heavily emphasized print sales before digital files became more popular but at no time I have refused to give clients photos. I now give clients a link with a private gallery with the photos from their session within a week of the shoot. Clients can either order prints from this gallery or get their prints made elsewhere using the digital files I’ve given them. The other rumors stated in the post all seem like honest (and sometimes humorous mistakes) but this one is one of the few which comes across as intentionally malicious and is the main reason for me writing this post.

Rumor 3: My second shooter and I are a couple. Fact: We are friends and work together.

This third one I actually think is kind of funny. I have had several people not read the About the Ryan Watkins Photography Team page very closely and assume that my second shooter Nikki and I were married or at least a couple. In fact we are not. We’re just friends and work together. We are both currently single.  

Rumor 4: The girl in the large print at Art Reach is my daughter. Fact: I don’t currently have any children.

This is another rumor that when I caught wind of it made me chuckle. There was some misunderstanding after a piece I created for Art Reach was put on display. The piece is a large composite print with the main subject being a little girl (the granddaughter of the client who commissioned the piece). There was a misunderstanding and several people thought that photo was of my daughter (which is problematic since I don’t have a daughter).

Back to a more serious note. The somewhat silly misunderstandings don’t bother me but the (ones that at least seem) intentionally malicious do. Over the years I’ve gotten to work with a ton of great people but every now and then your come across some dishonest folks. I see no need to discuss the particulars in detail. If I did I’d just be falling into the same gossipy slander I’m ridiculing them for. One of the most important things I’ve learnt running my own business is the importance of working with the right people. I’m incredibly thankful for the honest people I’ve been able to work with and am more discerning now to avoid working with the dishonest. As I’ve stated before I was voted “most chill” by my peers at the Hallmark Institute of Photography but at some point you do need to put your foot down. If you are prone to making threats, spreading slander, or constantly asking for money/favors this will get you banned from all of my personal and professional pages. I have experiences will all of the aforementioned. If these descriptions fit you I’d recommend going to Lifetouch instead of wasting my time (and reputation).


P.S. After revising this post I think I just coined a phrase for the greatest insult a photographer could tell someone. “Go to Lifetouch.”


New Personal Work with Model Lisa in Charlevoix, Michigan

I have wanted to do a portrait shoot in Charlevoix since going to the Venetian Festival in 2016. In late May I got to do a shoot with the lovely model Lisa in beautiful little town of Charlevoix. This shoot allowed me to test out some new lenses (an 85mm f/1.8 and a 60mm f/2.8 Macro) as well as testing a new cowboy studio flash bracket which allows me to attach four flashes to one light stand for quicker shooting. Huge thanks to Lisa for modeling for me and showing me some beautiful locations around Charlevoix.