Steven and Brittany Pugar Wedding in Mt Pleasant, Michigan

My second shooting Nikki and I had a great time photographing Steven and Brittany Pugar’s wedding in early July. Steven and Brittany met while they were students at CMU and now live in Kansas. They had people come to their wedding from several states and providences. An amazing couple to work with!

Peggy Sue Airbnb in Clare, Michigan

A few weeks ago I got to photograph my friend Rocio’s new Airbnb just outside of downtown Clare.

Here is what she has to say about the Airbnb “Take a step back into the 1960’s with this remodeled camper! We call her Peggy Sue because to quote the Buddy Holly song, “Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue. Oh, how my heart yearns for you” A trip with Peggy Sue is just what you need away from all the commotion of everyday life. She may be small but she is fierce. Enjoy a cozy atmosphere in our quaint backyard. Guests will have access to our entire backyard and their own private bathroom in our home.”

Check out the Airbnb listing here.

Markus and Caitlyn Berry Wedding in Gladwin, Michigan

My second shooter Nikki and I had a great time photographing Markus and Caitlyn Berry’s wedding in Gladwin, Michigan! Both of their families were incredibly personable. Their day was beautiful.

Markus and Caitlyn Berry Engagement Session at Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant, Michigan

I had a great time getting to photograph Markus and Caitlyn Berry’s engagement session at one of my most popular locations Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant, Michigan. These two were so obsessed with each it other.

Jesse and Carly Lillard Engagement Session at Dow Gardens and Post Street School in Midland, Michigan

I had a great time getting to photograph Jesse and Carly’s engagement session at one of my most popular locations Dow Gardens in early July. Their adorable kids Mayce and Eli were also able to join us for the shoot. After shooting at Dow Gardens we headed to Post Street School near downtown for some final images. I can’t wait to photograph their wedding in December!

How To Be A Good Photography Client


Over the last ten years of doing photography I’ve gotten to work with a variety of clients. One way to guarantee a good experience with your photographer is to be a good client. Here are a handful of qualities that make a great photography client.

Showing up on time is always a plus. When planning a shoot during a pre-session consultation your photographer will know when the lighting will be best. Showing up thirty minutes, forty five minutes, or an hour late can result in completely different lighting conditions making the final images look entirely different than what was planned.

Be honest up front. If you don’t like a photo tell them during the shoot. If there is another photo you want tell them during the shoot. Even better discuss this before hand during the pre-session consultation. It ends up being a huge waste of both the client and photographers time to do reshoots.

Pay them! Yes this seems obvious but it happens. I had a few clients last year who didn’t see the need to pay. Please pay your photographers. They need to eat to. Also don’t ask them to do everything for free.  

Share their photos on social media. A ton of clients of mine come from people seeing the images I’ve taken on their friends Facebook and Instagram feeds. Helping your photographer get more work is a great way to show how much you enjoyed your session.

Leave positive reviews on social media. As someone who gets a lot of clients from out of state reviews are incredibly important. If you had a positive experience let others know about it.

Follow their newsletters and social media accounts. This is a great way to stay informed with what they are up to and help support their business.

Give referrals. Have a friend who wants a portrait or wedding photographed? Let them know about me. Unless your friend is annoying in which please send them to my competition.

How I Guarantee You’ll Have Copies Of Your Images For Years To Come


Here at Ryan Watkins Photography I go to extra lengths to make sure you will have copies of your images for years to come. How do I go about this? First of all I always shoot with two cards in my camera. As soon as I take an image a copy is made on a second card within my camera. If a card fails I already have a backup. After the wedding or session I transfer the images onto an external hard drive. Then I backup that drive to another identical external hard drive. The identical drive is kept in a locked fire and waterproof case. Once the retouching is finished I upload the images to a private online gallery. Any image sent to a client never gets deleted from the hard drive nor the private gallery. Once the wedding or session is finished there will be three copies of the finished images on two hard drives and one online copy. This process ensures that no matter what happens I have a copy of your images for years to come.

How I Got The Shots: The Tridge


I primarily photograph portraits and weddings. Every now and then I get hired to do work outside of my traditional wheelhouse. A woman who worked in Midland was moving to a better job in another state. She would get a photograph of a landmark from each of the cities she had lived. Her co-workers commissioned me to photograph the tridge in Midland, Michigan for her.

I parked behind the H Hotel and started scouting out the location. I had photographed portraits and wedding group shots at the tridge before but never and image of just the tridge by itself. I walked around and found some angles that looked pleasing. The tridge is a popular location.  At first I thought I’d have to photoshop out many of the people walking across. Luckily as the sun started to set the people cleared out making the post processing much easier.

I put my Nikon D600 with a wide 18-35mm lens on my Feisol Carbon Fiber tripod and started shooting. There were several reasons I used a tripod. First of all the sun was setting so I needed a longer exposure. Second I wanted detail in the entire scene so I knew I needed a narrower aperture. Lastly because the scene was so high contrast I knew I’d have to create a high dynamic range image. High dynamic range, commonly abbreviated HDR, combines several images of the same scene at different exposures. Using a process called tone mapping it makes it so there are details in the lightest and darkest parts of the photo. Due to the scene being very high contrast, bright sky and dark tridge, I knew a single exposure wouldn’t hold all of the detail I wanted. I shot three images bracketing the shutter speed but keeping the focus, focal length, aperture, and ISO the same. This gave me images with details in every part of the image.

When I got home I imported the images into Lightroom. I did the same basic global adjustments to all three images. Next I chose merge to HDR in Lightroom creating an image with detail in all tonal ranges in the image. After some further tweaking in Lightroom the image was ready to be printed. The clients ordered a 16×24 inch metal print which I got made thru White House Custom Color.

How I Got The Shots: Reception Sparklers


Grand Rapids is one of my favorite towns. Tons of great breweries. Tons of reformed churches. What more could you want?

In 2018 I photographed a wedding in Grand Rapids at a little Missouri Synod Lutheran church just down the road from Calvin College. The getting ready and ceremony went great. Next we went to the golf course where the reception was held. We drove around on golf carts to various locations the bride and groom had picked out. This was the only wedding I had photographed in 2018 that the clients had book me for more than eight hours of wedding coverage. Eight hours ends up being enough for almost everyone. This couple had a very specific photo they wanted at the end of the night. They wanted a shot of them running out of the reception hall with sparklers at the end of their reception. To get this shot I had to use to flash. While shooting dancing photos I used bounce flash. I kept my flash on camera and pointed it towards the ceiling. The light bounces off the ceiling making for a very flattering light. These shots would be outside though. No ceiling to bounce off of. So I had to use direct flash. I set my flash to a lower level so I could shoot quicker. As the bride and groom ran out of the reception hall with there sparklers I was able to grab several shots. They ran to there car and drove off to start there honeymoon. Usually I check with the bride and groom before leaving a wedding reception to make sure there aren’t any other shots they want. This time they had left before I did. I somewhat awkwardly packed up my gear and started my 2.5 hour drive back to Clare.