A former teacher turns her passion into her profession

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With a single click, Ryan Donaldson captures moments in time.

“Photography has been a passion of mine since I was a little kid,” Donaldson said. “As a third generation photographer, I spent many hours behind a camera lens from an early age. Since then, I practice my passion, always looking for the perfect shot.

The Gibraltar resident owns and operates Ryan Donaldson Photography, 125 S. Monroe St., in downtown Monroe. The full-service studio specializes in senior, athletic and professional portraits.

Donaldson went to Eastern Michigan University for art education where he took several studio art classes, including photography. Although he said that most of what he learned was self-taught or by experience.

In 2010, he started his photography business while working as a high school art teacher.

“I was a teacher for eight years and took photography as a side activity,” he said. “After a few years it started to develop quite quickly and I decided to make my hobby my job and take a step back from teaching. My studio started out at home, but I quickly realized I needed more space and a better setup. As it turns out, the space at Monroe opened up and we started renovating it. It took about six months to redo the interior. In 2018, we had the facade of the building redone.

Donaldson’s studio is open by appointment. The photoshoots are scheduled on site or in the studio. Summer and fall are its busiest time of year. From August to early November, most days of the week are set aside with portraits of fall sports, seniors, and family.

He said there were several reasons his job was different from others at the same company.

“First, I have years of experience and thousands of hours of work in my profession. I approach my portraits artistically when taking the photos and retouching them. Second, I am ready to going above and beyond to make sure we get the look my client wants with their portraits. I will look for the perfect location, so they get exactly the photographs they envisioned, “he said. “Finally, I think my communication and customer service are fantastic. When you contact me, I will respond quickly and make sure you are taken care of.

Eight-year-old Nora poses while her father, Ryan Donaldson, takes a picture of her.  Donaldson's studio is open by appointment.  The photoshoots are scheduled on site or in the studio.

Like many businesses, Donaldson has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. His studio was closed most of the spring of 2020 and he was forced to change the way he works. He now spends more time composing and editing images.

“COVID changed the landscape a lot, and I had to make adjustments like everyone else,” he said. “I really had to change the way I take team sports photos. For example, before COVID, we filmed them in groups, now I film them individually and group them into groups. It’s a lot more work, but what needs to be done to keep customers happy.

Donaldson said he spent most of his time photographing on location, a more popular choice with clients rather than photographing studio portraits. He admits that the photography industry has changed over the years.

“There has been a lot more competition in recent years. There are probably hundreds of people who call themselves local photographers, ”said Donaldson. “Cameras have gotten better and cheaper, so more people can have them. I encourage competition. It just means that I always have to step up my game and improve myself.

Donaldson likes to live by his rules and do something he loves.

“I spend a lot of time working, but I don’t usually feel like I’m working. Owning your own business has its challenges, but I think the rewards are much greater, ”he added. “The biggest advantage for me is that I can spend my time the way I want. I like having the flexibility to make my own schedule.

Lisa Vidaurri Bowling is a contributor to The Monroe News.

Photograph by Ryan Donaldson

Location: 125, rue S. Monroe.

Owner: Ryan Donaldson from Gibraltar

Start of activity: 2010

Services: Full-service studio specializing in senior, athletic and professional portraits. The photoshoots are scheduled on site or in the studio.

Hours: Open by appointment

Website: https://www.ryandphoto.com/


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