As a kid I never liked reading. It felt like a chore. My reading comprehension was pretty poor to. In 2014 all that changed. Primarily when I started studying reformed theology. I grew to love reading. A wide variety of subjects as well. In 2018 I ended up reading seventy six books. Here are some tips on how I am able to read so much.
First of all read How To Read A Book by Mortimer J Adler. If I had read this in middle school I guarantee my reading comprehension would have been better. I would have enjoyed reading way more to.
Second of all I read books in different formats depending on the genre. Audiobooks are preferable for fiction. Real tangible books are great for business and personal development books. Non fiction books, where I’ll be taking lots of notes, work well in ebook format. I can easily copy and paste text from the ebook into Evernote.
I find myself reading primarily ebooks. This is because of the price. I rarely spend full price for anything. I make a list of books I want on amazon and check daily to see if they are on sale. I primarily read books on my iPhone. I can enable a text to speech option to turn any of these books into audiobooks as well. This makes it much easier to get thru books quickly. As mentioned prior, this makes note taking easy. I have notebooks in Evernote full of books I’ve read in the past so I can easily review my notes.
When it comes to purchasing books I usually buy them from Amazon, in Kindle format when they are on sale. I have also had good luck finding cheap books on thriftbooks, ebay, and local goodwill stores. Many free books can be found in the public domain. These can be accessed free at Gutenberg or other more niche sites like Monergism. Free public domain audiobook versions can be found on Librivox. Quality varies. For higher quality versions of ebooks in the public domain many can be found for only a few dollars on Amazon. The formatting of these books is usually far superior to that of the free Gutenberg ones.
One of my 2019 wedding clients recently posted about a really cool unique way to get donations for your honeymoon. Instead of getting a ton of kitchen appliances or gag gifts you’ll never use, guests can donate right into a fund for your honeymoon via honeyfund. A great wedding gift idea!
I had a great time photographing John and Valerie Carter’s wedding in Centralia, Washington! John and I had went to church together at Christ Covenant Church in Midland, Michigan before he moved for work. I was very excited to hear that John and Valerie where interested in having me photograph their wedding in Washington. Since high school I had wanted to do a road trip across the US. Their wedding game me an excuse to finally go thru with it. Huge thanks to John and Valerie for having me come out to Washington for their wedding and all the people who helped make their day a success!
A lot of people take interest in photography. Starting out it is all fun. Learning about gear. Taking nice photos. No pressure. After awhile someone will ask you how much you charge. Before you know it you are starting a business and doing it for real. After doing it for a while. Getting some high paying clients and some nice photos. The snobbery kicks in. The Dunning-Kruger effect. It happens to almost all of us photographers after a while. Sadly many never outgrow it.
Back in July 2018 I posted an article about how and why entrepreneurs have a higher rate of depression in my Facebook group the Michigan Photography Network. One member started going on a tirad about how most “entrepreneurs” he knew where actually unemployed and about how much better he was than them. As someone who has lost two close friends to suicide I had little tolerance for this guy’s egotistical tirade and blocked him from the group.
Sadly many can’t separate themselves from their work. They assume if they take a bad photo or have a rough month business wise they are a failure. This thinking leads to depression and for some even suicide. This is one of the reasons I intentionally do many things outside of photography. I’m a member of a local Jaycee chapter, a local presbyterian church, and regularly meet up with friends who could care less about what I do for a living.
A few months later I came across an article on one of my favorite blogs, fstoppers, about not bad mouthing cheaper photographers. The article was great. Those in the comments sections disagreed though. They were going on rants about how cheap photographers should “know their worth”.
Sadly a lot of people make work into something akin to a religion. I don’t though. I realize this makes me worthy of scorn in many circles in both the photography and entrepreneurial circles, but quite frankly I don’t care. I’d much rather make time for the things that matter in life instead of working and networking 24/7.
A lot of times non photographers bring their “photographer horror stories” to me. These include photographers not giving photos to clients. Photographers messing up important shots on weddings. Or photographers just acting unprofessional. Most people seem surprised that I don’t rip into these people. Why? Because we all start out there. Entrepreneurship and photography requires a lot of trial and error. Early on your going to mess up. Some more than others. I get why people hire new inexpensive photographers. But it is a gamble. Your taking a risk. Sadly I get a decent amount of clients each year who try people just starting out and end up hiring me because the shots didn’t turn out the way they like. I don’t badmouth these photographers though. Maybe professional photography isn’t for them and it will remain a hobby. Which is fine. Maybe they will learn from their mistakes, stick with it, and become professionals. Which is just fine to.
I don’t dislike the new guys. We all start out there.
In 2018 I started teaching photography. The more I taught the more I grew to love it. I knew in 2018 I’d have to spend time during my slow season in 2019 systematizing how I would go about teaching henceforth. I was recently approved to be a teacher on clarify.fm. Regardless of where you live I can know offer fully bespoke photography classes to you. Simply contact me via https://clarity.fm/ryan-watkins and we can start making your customized photography class today!
I had great time getting to work with model Hayley at Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant, Michigan. Hayley wanted to do a shoot with Harry Davidson motorcycles in honor of her grandma who loved bikes. After the bike shots, we head to the trails next to Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant for some images near the water. Lastly we did some shots after sunset against abandoned buildings with graffiti. Huge thanks to Kathy and Bob for letting us borrow their motorcycles. Also to Patricia Hildebrandt for getting me in contact with Kathy and Bob. Lastly huge thanks to Hayley for modeling and Dallas and Dan for assisting. She has been modeling for less than a year and did an amazing job! I can’t wait to work with her again.
You learn a lot via life experiences as an entrepreneur. One of the lessons I learnt in 2018 was work life balance.
The first couple years after graduating from the Hallmark Institute of Photography I was a very low volume but high price business. I didn’t have a lot of clients but when I did I could live off of the income from the shoot for some time. In 2017 I changed up my pricing and structure. I shifted to more of a mid volume and mid price range model.
In 2018 work picked up significantly. Partly due to the changes made to my business and partly due to the increase in networking I was doing. In early 2018 I was eating right, exercising regularly, and still had time for the other things I enjoyed in life, like hanging out with old friends and reading. As my busy season approached eating right and exercising started to fall by the wayside. As fall came around I was both shooting and networking more than ever. At least once a week I was staying up for over a day straight. I was tired, stressed, and didn’t have time for the things which really mattered in life.
In November I decided to make a change. I left some of the networking groups I was in. I even contemplated changing careers but ultimately decided against it. Instead of taking every opportunity that comes my way without thought, I think over whether it is worth it or not. In 2018 I learned that there is more to life than work.
In 2019 I’ve made a point of having a much better work life balance. At times I’ve went to the opposite end of the spectrum and gotten lazy. After reading Peter Drucker’s classic The Effective Executive I’ve seen how much of my time I was wasting. I was being busy instead of productive. By being more efficient I’ve been able to make more time for things I enjoy outside of work and personal development, like hanging out with friends, reading, and binge watching dumb sitcoms on hulu. I’ve gotten on the Slow Carb diet that I heard about on the Tim Ferriss Show and have lost 13 pounds between January and March. I’ve also read over 30 books by the end of April. I’ve booked over ten weddings so far in 2019, reaching my personal goal for the year.
Despite its small size my hometown of Clare, Michigan has several great restaurants worth trying out the next time you find yourself in the gateway to the north.
Cops and Doughnuts has become the namesake of Clare. It started when the local police officers bought the downtown bakery. It has now expanded to multiple locations around the state and even one outside Michigan. This is a place I regularly meet with clients for consultations. A box of Cops and Doughnuts doughnuts is also my go to when I need to bring a dish to pass to get togethers, socials, and networking events.
The Mulberry Cafe is an amazing place to stop for breakfast or lunch if you are in Clare. Located right next to the library it has some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had. Connected to the cafe is the Herrick House which has a variety of trinkets and books for sale by local authors.
The Four Leaf Brewery is probably my favorite bar/restaurant in Clare. With an ever-changing variety of newly brewed craft beer styles, unique food, coffee shop like atmosphere, fun events, and friendly staff it has become a place a frequent. Several of my photographs also decorate the walls as well as a few images shot by my second shooter Nikki Robinson.
White House has a variety of affordable and unique food. It a great lunch option especially if you are on a budget. One of my photos used to grace the cover of their menu.
The newly opened Timeout Tavern has amazing food, a full bar, and a plethora of craft beers. It is a great dinner location.