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My Favorite Images From My First Decade Of Photography


I first took an interest in photography back in 2008. The first photo I took I was really happy with was in 2009. I had a hard drive crash and much of my early work was lost. My first magazine publication in 2010. I thought it would be cool to look back over my work over the last decade. This helps me see what areas I grown and regressed as a photographer. Here are my favorite images since 2009 and little bit of there back stories.  


Raccoon, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2009

This was the first image I was really happy with. After taking this photo I decided I wanted to become a professional photographer. For the full story click here.


Nuthatch, Clare, Michigan 2010

This nuthatch hanging from my parent’s bird feeder would go on to be published in Audubon, Nature’s Best Photography, and The World of Photography Bookazine. For the full story click here.


Mountain, Field, British Columbia, Canada 2011

This mountain peak photographed on the border of British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. It would later be published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine. For the full story click here.


Bryana, Turners Falls, Massachusetts 2013

This studio portrait of model Bryanna was photographed while I was a student at the Hallmark Institute of Photography in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. For the full story click here.


Eli and Edythe Broad Art Building, East Lansing, Michigan 2013

This architectural image was photographed while I was home on spring break during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. It was later used in catalogs promoting the school.

Feona, Bernardston, Massachusetts 2013

This pet portrait was shot during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. For the full story click here.


Doc, Holyoake, Massachusetts 2013

This portrait of a doctor in Holyoake, Massachusetts was shot during my studies at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. I used a color temperature orange gel on my flash and cool white balance to make the doctor stand out from the background.


Ciara, Clare, Michigan 2013

This portrait of Ciara was shot in downtown Clare, Michigan at night. I used off camera flash to mimic the street light.


Ian, Harrison, Michigan 2013

This image of welder and art teacher Ian was photographed in Harrison, Michigan for the 515 Gallery. For the full story click here.


Church of Daniel’s Band Pine Branch, Midland, Michigan 2014

This image was commissioned by the Church of Daniel’s Band during the winter in 2014. For the full story click here.


Jason and Rachael, Grand Haven, Michigan 2014

This engagement session was done on the ice on Lake Michigan in Grand Haven during sunset.


Chickadee, Clare, Michigan 2015

This image was photographed on an early winter morning in 2015. For the full story click here.


Amish. Clare, Michigan 2017

This image was photographed on a foggy winter morning in early 2017. For the full story click here.


Chelsea and Dayna, Ann Arbor, Michigan 2017

This image of models Chelsea and Dayna next to a beautiful church door was photographed in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Beaverton Fireworks, Beaverton, Michigan 2017

This image of the 2017 Beaverton fireworks was shot with a fisheye lens while training my second shooter Nikki Robinson.


Matt and Chelsea, Ann Arbor, Michigan 2017

This engagement portrait was shot of Matt and Chelsea in Ann Arbor, Michigan during golden hour.


Todd and Kayla, Midland, Michigan 2017

This image of Todd and Kayla was shot at one of my most frequented locations Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. This was taken just outside the gardens after we were kicked out.


Sam Smoke Bombs, Clare, Michigan 2018

This image was photographed of my of favorite models Sam while setting off purple smoke bombs. This image was later used as my entry into Art Walk Central in Mt Pleasant, Michigan.


Lisa, Charlevoix, Michigan 2018

This image of model Lisa was photographed in one of my favorite cities in northern Michigan, Charlevoix. The subtle gesture and soft natural light make this image one of my favorites.


Stark Family, Clare, Michigan 2018

The Starks have been repeat clients of mine since 2017. This image of them and there several dogs remains one of my favorite family portraits.


Shane and Chelsea, Midland, Michigan 2018

This engagement session of Shane and Chelsea was taken on one of the busiest days of my career at one of my most frequented locations Dow Gardens in Midland, Mi. The beautiful backlight and expression make this image one of my favorites.

Why I Don’t Work On Sundays


As a Christian, and more specifically a confessional Presbyterian and member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, I believe that God’s moral law, summarized in the ten commandments, is still binding today. This includes the fourth commandment to honour the sabbath. For this reason I abstain from working on Sundays. Instead I treat the Lord’s day as a day of rest. Using it to worship God corporately and privately. As well as for works of necessity and mercy.  

The Importance of Structure and Systems


One of the best business books I have read is the E-Myth Revisited. In the E-Myth Revisited author Michael Gerber talks about why most businesses fail. Many people assume that if they are good at a technical task they will be good at running a business which does that technical task. This isn’t the case. One must also know how to run a business. One of the keys to running a successful business is making it repeatable and setting internal systems structures for how things get done. Your business should ideally be able to run without you. If the internal systems are followed. Since reading this book I’ve been spending a ton of time working “on my business” as Gerber puts it. I have been developing the internal processes at Ryan Watkins Photography for how I go about doing every task in the business. I am constantly tweaking how I do these processes for maximum efficiency and best client experience. I would highly recommend fellow entrepreneurs check out The E-Myth Revisited.

Ryan Watkins Photography Moving to Tampa, Florida

I’m officially the world’s youngest snow bird!

In early November 2019 I moved to Tampa, Florida to be closer to my now fiancée Krysten.

During the rest of 2019 and 2020 I will be bouncing between Michigan and Florida. I will be available for sessions and weddings in Michigan during parts of March, May, June, August, and October of 2020.

I am now available for portrait sessions and weddings in Florida. In addition to shooting my own work I will be available for retouching, second shooting, and assisting other photographers in Florida.

Phillip and Abby Wedding at the Venue at 501 in Clare, Michigan

I had an amazing time photographing Phillip and Abby’s wedding at the beautiful Venue at 501 in downtown Clare. I’ve never laughed so much during a wedding!

Clayton and Alexis Engagement Session at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan

I had a great time photographing Clayton and Alexis’ engagement session at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. I can’t wait to photograph their wedding next year!

Riley and Katie Wedding in Mattawan, Michigan

I had a great time photographing Riley and Katie’s beautiful wedding in Western Michigan. Here are my favorite images from the wedding.

Josh and Lisa Elopement in Ithaca, Michigan

I had great time photographing Josh and Lisa’s quick and fun elopement in Ithaca, Michigan!

Justin and Lauren Engagement Session in Fremont, Michigan

I had a great time photographing Justin and Lauren on their property in Fremont, Michigan back in October. I can’t wait to photograph their wedding next year!

The Importance of Pre-Session Consultations


One of the most important parts of any wedding or portrait shoot is the pre-session consultation. During the pre-session consultation we meet ideally in person, but if the client lives far away via skype or facetime, to discuss the session or wedding. By meeting prior and going thru my detailed worksheets both the client and I get on the same page. I figure out what they are looking for and how we can achieve it. This helps prevent many issues from happening during the shoot or wedding. Nearly any shoot I have where issues have arised it was due to a lack of planning or lack of communication. This is why I always do a consultation before a shoot or wedding.