When I first got started in photography in high school, I was one of the cheapest photographers around. The prices made sense back then. I didn’t need to make a living from photography. I was also very green. This was prior to my formal photographic training at the Hallmark Institute of Photography.
After graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2013 I moved back to Clare. I completely changed my pricing and offerings. I was one of the most expensive photographers in the area. I only sold prints. I prided myself on these things. I stuck with this pricing and structure from 2013-2016. During these years I took on far less clients but every client I did take on paid very well and I was able to live off of the income from that one shoot for some time.
I also had some very problematic clients at this time. Right after finding out about the death of my grandmother, I was screamed at by a client because the area of her home she wanted to put her print was poorly lit. Another client called to scream me out while I was trying to celebrate Christmas with my family because she wanted hundreds of dollars of reprints. No reason why she wanted the reprints was ever given.
Despite being way out of the price range for most people in my local area between 2013-2016, I would still get accused by fellow photographers in other states of being to cheap and a high volume photographer. Also during this time I’d regularly get inquiries about shoots from potential clients who only wanted digital files and many others who couldn’t afford me.
In 2017 I decided to make a change. I quit shooting to meet the approval of other photographers and started putting my clients first. I changed to far more reasonable prices. I got rid of collections and products that no one was buying. I started offering digital files and completely updated my session process.
Since my pricing changes I’ve had nothing but amazing clients. I don’t make as much off of each individual shoot. I would much rather have two great clients over three problematic ones. I do not care at all about meeting the approval of others in my industry. I just care about making my clients happy.
After graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in 2013 I had a two week turnaround time. Like clockwork a little over a week after the session or wedding I’d get an email from the client asking how the photos were coming. Usually they’d request a preview or sample as well. During my slow season, where I have less client work, in 2016 I decided to experiment with speeding up my turnaround time to one week. As I got into my busy season I decided to stick with the one week turnaround time. This is admittedly difficult to maintain during my busy season especially with weddings.
As soon as people find out I’m a photographer they usually feel obliged to tell me all of their photographer horror stories. These usually deal with one of two scenarios. The photographer does to much retouching and removes something like a birthmark or the turnaround time took forever especially in the case of weddings. As someone who tries to learn from his own mistakes and the mistakes of others, I don’t want to fall into this error. Since 2016 I’ve had a one week turnaround time and plan on sticking with it until further notice.
Wardrobe wise I advise against really loud colors, logos, or anything that will draw attention to your clothing instead of your face. Ultimately a good portrait draws the viewer’s attention to the subjects face not their clothing, body, etc. It is always best to bring a variety of clothing as well. Bringing a combination of lights and darks as well as formal and casual is recommended as well. For children (or potentially even pets) doing less clothing changes is optimum because they have a shorter attention span. For couples, engagements, or families having the clothing be similar in color (but not exactly the same) looks best. For example wearing all cooler colored clothing (blues, purples, etc) or all warm colored clothing (yellows, oranges, reds, etc) will look great. Bringing clothing (or other props) related to your interests can be a great way to make your portrait session more personal. Also make sure the clothing is clean, matches, and fits well. If you are dressing formally make sure your shoes match the rest of your attire. Bringing something you don’t mind getting dirty is also recommended so we can do shots on the ground, in water, etc. Also make sure you bring a wardrobe that is fitting for the location you want to be photographed in. For example casual clothing looks better in rural country locations and formal attire looks better in urban. The specifics of the wardrobe are something we will discuss more in depth during the pre-session consultation.
I keep multiple backups of all my clients photos. If you want to order prints or products in the future I will still have the images and will be able to get prints and products to you. My price list may change overtime and depending on what updates the print labs I use make I can’t guarantee the exact products I currently offer will be available in the future, but I should be able to get similar things made.
I have shot several portrait sessions and weddings in the rain. Usually for portrait sessions the clients choose to reschedule which I recommend when possible. There is not extra fee for rescheduling. I have also had clients who didn’t mind being out in the rain and we have continued the shoot. If it rains we can either reschedule the session or continue shooting. It is up to the client.
I will replace any print or product ordered thru Ryan Watkins Photography that gets damaged free of charge . Because the print labs I use update their products periodically I can’t guarantee that some specialty products will be exactly the same. For example the backing on the metal prints I offer has changed over time. These updates have actually made hanging the prints easier. If a client had ordered one of these prints from me in 2013 and then ordered a replacement in 2018 there would be slight changes made to the backing. So far none of my clients have had their prints get damaged or broken and had to order reprints.
Yes. All images I give to clients will have retouching applied. If additional retouching is desired on specific photos after the session, this can be done for no additional fee.
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.
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.
Yes. The private gallery given to clients within one week of their session makes it easy to share your images with friends and family via social media.