Myrtle Beach Engagement Photography

Prices and info for Ryan Smith Photography’s engagement portraits and surprise proposals

Serving Myrtle Beach, Conway, Pawleys Island, Ocean Isle and More

I specialize in fun, candid and creative engagement sessions and surprise marriage proposals in the Myrtle Beach area. My engagement photography sessions are relaxed and fun. I personally do a small number of appointments each week, typically around sunset time, and I do everything myself from the photography to the adjustments and touch-ups of the pictures. Not only am I a native to Myrtle Beach area, but I’ve been doing engagement and wedding photography in Myrtle Beach for over a decade! Anyone can put a few good pictures in a gallery, but it takes a lot of experience to consistently take great looking pictures especially on the beach.

My style as an engagement photographer

What I do is a bit different from a traditional portrait photographer. I use a mix of posed and photojournalist style of photography. While I do suggest poses, I typically take around 200-300 shots in an hour or so session trying to capture the best moments and natural expressions. Mixed with this I do more traditional posed portraits with off camera studio style lighting. I have a number of typical poses I like to suggest for couples, but I always love to incorporate any ideas you may have as well. I’ve had many clients tell me it was the nicest experience they have had with a photographer. I hope I can make you feel the same way.

Quality of finished pictures

I prefer clear, crisp and clean color and black and white images that can only be done with the best lenses and an expert understanding of lighting and flash. I’m using the same equipment I use at weddings like very expensive prime lenses and powerful off camera lighting. This gives a different look than you get from ordinary “natural light only” engagement pictures. It’s like a combination of an in studio portrait balanced with the beautiful natural light from the sun. A reasonable amount of artistic and general touch-up Photoshop work on prints is also included at no charge.

Myrtle Beach Sunset Engagement Photography
Package Price: $400 May 1st – Oct 15th | $300 Oct 16th – April 30th

There are no sitting fees or hidden charges. The package includes the photo session with unlimited pictures, I typically take 200-300 pictures in about an hour or so session. This includes a download of the standard resolution digital files from the session, perfect for social sharing and small prints ( See Q&A section below for details ). These are not “straight from the camera” I personally adjust each picture for color, lighting and artistic quality. Prints can also be (optionally) ordered through your online client gallery at very reasonable prices. If we do the pictures at one of my preferred State Park locations, I also have passes for 2 cars to get in at no charge.

Full Resolution & Prints Upgrade Package – $150

Upgrade to the full resolution digital files suitable for making your own prints of any size, plus a bonus $75 credit to order prints through my online store. Note: This upgrade only matters for your download of the pictures, prints ordered through my store are always printed from the full resolution even without this upgrade. This recommended upgrade can be added up front or up to 3 years after the session. ( See Q&A section below for details )

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Please get in touch with any questions!

Common Questions and Answers

What is the difference between the base package and full resolution upgrade?

The base package includes the standard resolution digital copies of your pictures, the long edge of the image is 2048px. This size is perfect for iPad viewing, social sharing and making your own up to 4×6 prints. In fact this is the largest size photo allowed on Facebook and double the Instagram resolution. View examples here – Standard Resolution Example || Full Resolution Example. You may need to zoom in to see the difference. If you want to make your own large prints in the future without ordering through me then I would recommend the full resolution upgrade. If you are just sharing pictures online or viewing on an iPad it won’t make much of a difference. A copyright release form is included as well so you can make your own prints anywhere.

If you choose to order prints through your online gallery they are always printed from the full resolution files at highest quality. Visit my print store for a full list of prices. Typically I take about 200-400 pictures during a session, I usually narrow these down to about 100-200 pictures that I adjust for color, lighting, cropping and artistic quality to make them look really good. This might sound like a lot but I take multiple shots of each thing we do, it’s actually relaxed and fun and only takes about an hour.

The full resolution and prints upgrade package includes the full resolution files from my high end professional cameras. These are suitable for any print size and for making your own forever backups of your pictures. I keep the full resolution backups of your pictures for a minimum of 3 years after a session, so you can add this package on in the future. This package also includes a bonus $75 print credit for use in your online gallery. This credit could be used for a huge 24×36 mounted print, a lot of smaller prints, or any combination. See price of prints below for details.

Where and when for the session?

I like to schedule the appointment about an hour before sunset if possible. I usually do the session at the Myrtle Beach or Huntington Beach State Parks (See Q&A Section Below), and I have park passes to get in two cars without the park fees. If you prefer another location such as at your beach house or a location away from the beach we can do them there as well. There is no set time limit for an evening session, usually it takes about an hour or sometimes more for large groups. There are also no limits on family groupings, poses or candid shots.

What is the deposit for the photo session?

I request a $100 deposit which is deducted from your total to hold the date. This can be paid by Venmo, Check or Credit Card. You can give me the final payment when it’s convenient at the session or send it sometime after. If because of rain we have to cancel the session and we can’t reschedule, I will fully refund the deposit. However, I can no longer refund deposits for other trip cancellation reasons. I hope you understand, I can only book one sunset session per day, so once a date is booked, I have to turn away other clients. Let me know if you have any questions.

What is your satisfaction guarantee policy?

Please do have reasonable expectations at the beach and realize that there can be a lot of wind and various lighting conditions. I like the more natural, candid outdoor look myself and I think I do a great job working with available conditions. However, I always work with a satisfaction guaranteed policy. I never want someone unhappy with my work, so I would be happy to work out any situation where you are not completely happy even with a full refund. Please though don’t expect studio perfect lighting and hair in the pictures. If your hair is a very high concern I would not recommend the beach for pictures.

What is the price of prints if we choose to order them through the online client gallery?

Prints can be easily ordered through your client gallery using your photo credit and by credit card (Of course you can download and get prints made anywhere you like as well). These are all printed at one of the best photo labs with lots of different mounting and paper type options. I try to keep the cost of the prints reasonable. Visit my print store for a full list of prices.

What are Digital Copies and can I print from them?

The digital copies you receive as part of a package will include the majority of the pictures from your session in high resolution. These are suitable for large prints or whatever you would like to do with them. Many times, I’m taking multiple shots of the same pose, so I will pick the best couple from the series. There could also be a picture that just doesn’t turn out and those won’t be included. All the images provided you will have been color corrected, adjusted and look very nice. If needed, you can select a few that you would like specific touch-ups. For example, removing people from a background, face touch-ups, etc. even if you are only getting the digital copies. See Photoshop touch-ups section below for more details.

You are allowed to print as many images from the digital files as you like, there are no watermarks on the pictures. I will also send you a link for a copyright release that you can print out, this is required at some locations such as Wal-Mart.

Myrtle Beach State Park vs Huntington State Park for photography?

Some of the pictures you see in my gallery from years past are from the Myrtle Beach State Park. It is conveniently located near the south end of Myrtle Beach near the airport. They have a nice area with old oak trees, a pier and a nice beach area. However, because of recent hurricanes, the dunes are very damaged at the Myrtle Beach park and they have roped them off to protect them. Also, in the summer, the Myrtle Beach park is very crowded which makes doing pictures there more difficult. Because of the crowds, sometimes the park rangers are also unfriendly with us photographers.

For these reasons, I have switched my usual beach pictures location to the Huntington Beach State Park. If it’s not too far of a drive for a client I think this is a much better location. Huntington is located at the south end of Murrells Inlet before Pawleys Island. They have an area with the Atalaya Castle, palm trees, nice dunes, and a beautiful, much less crowded beach area. The only thing missing from Huntington is a pier. However, there is an area with palm trees and ivy where I do some of the similar shots I used to do near the pier. For example, the kids peeking around the trees at each other. If you want to check out my typical routine at this park I made a recent blog post here.

So just let me know what you prefer. If pier pictures are very important to you, and you don’t mind dealing with some crowds, then Myrtle Beach State Park might be best. If you want a more relaxed location with the castle and better dunes then I recommend Huntington. Of course, for engagement pictures, we can also use other locations such as the Conway River Walk if you prefer getting away from the beach. I can also come to your beach house or preferred location for family pictures as well.

How long do I have to purchase my images, how long will they be stored?

I store a photo session for a minimum of 1 year. Although I still have backups from 10 years ago locally and in the cloud and plan to keep them indefinitely, I don’t guarantee it. If you wish to have copies of images after a year you to need to make sure you have downloaded your digital copies and you make your own backups.

What should we wear to a beach session?

A family group needs to look unified for a good group portrait. The style and color of clothing needs to coordinate. For example you don’t want colors and textures on the clothes that really clash with each other. A popular look at the beach is a white or black T-Shirt and Khaki Pants or Blue Jeans. I’ve also had families wear different color shirts and even different patterns and I think it gives a nice variety to the pictures. For example, with a large group portrait, it can be fun for each family unit in the group to wear a different color. I’ve found that if the family thinks the clothes look good together then it will turn out nice for the pictures. Look through my photo galleries and see what you like!

Make sure to think about what the wind is going to do to an outfit! For example, a thin dress might end up blowing tight against or between your legs. If a dress is too short it might be difficult to do pictures sitting by the dunes or dipping in front of the ocean for engagement pictures. I’ve noticed that women’s blouses can have lace or an area at the top that blows up in the wind and on to the neck. Try not to have anything on the clothes that will blow around too much or look bad on a windy day.

What can be requested for Photoshop image touch-ups?

Sometimes Photoshop is thought of as something magic, that anything can be changed in a picture. Some of the tools in the latest Photoshop are pretty magical, but there are some limitations. All the images you will get have been adjusted in software called Lightroom, this allows me to adjust color and exposure and get the image looking really nice. That is all a lot of pictures need before printing. If they do need specific editing such as removing people from the background, then I have to go into Photoshop.

The important thing to keep in mind, when something is removed from an image, there is nothing behind it. For example if your hair is removed from in front of your eye, if I just remove the hair it’s like taking scissors and cutting something out of picture. Anything that is under an area removed has to be recreated. What I have to do in Photoshop is clone, or copy one part of an image to another to recreate the missing area. If the hair is going across your forehead that is pretty easy, I just copy from right next to the hair and cover it up. If a small bit of hair is even going across an eye, I can carefully clone from other parts of the eye and cover it up. However, keeping this in mind, if a large section of the face is covered by hair it may be impossible to recreate what is underneath in a realistic way. The same is true for anything you want moved or removed from an image, anything under that spot has to be recreated so I have to use a similar spot to clone from. Please keep in mind the difficulty in doing this when making requests.

Also, I can take two images and combine them by moving heads, eyes or mouths from one and copying it into another. Please realize though, this can only be done if the poses are almost the same. I normally take 3 or 4 shots of each pose, so faces in two of these can be combined so you can’t even tell, but not if the poses change significantly and people move too much.

What is the turnaround time on a picture order?

The printing service I use has a fast turnaround time, I’ve never had it take more than a few days for a client to receive an order made through their online gallery. If you require specific touch-ups on the pictures it can take a little longer, I can’t guarantee a time but usually a couple of weeks, during my really busy times of the year when I have many orders it can take longer.

Why do you suggest beach photography close to sunset?

Unlike in a studio, in nature you have to use whatever light you can find, in addition to some added flash. On the beach, shade is something that is very hard to find. In direct overhead sunlight, shadows on the face can be very harsh, for example there will be shadows under your eyes and nose. If you have ever seen a typical beach snapshot, you will see faces that look unattractive and eyes that are closed or squinting. This is why it’s really best to avoid the times of the day when the sun is overhead.

Later in the day, very close to sunset, the light becomes much softer and easier to deal with. I do have tricks that can help reduce the effect of harsh sunlight like good positioning and using fill flash. For larger family groups, the light becomes even more difficult to manage. Of course if we really need to do a session earlier in the day I can, but you will get the best results close to sunset. Sometimes clients will think I’m planning the session too late but I’m always thinking about the best time for a certain group size with sunset time that day.

Why do I have to pay sales tax even if I only get digital pictures?

If you live in the state of SC I have to collect sales tax on your purchases just like if you were to buy something in a physical store. If you live outside of SC and I am shipping your items out of state you are responsible for paying sales tax on your purchases to your own state and I don’t collect this from you.

In most states like SC, photography service is considered part of the “fabrication process”. The product you are receiving could be a physical album, a few prints, or it could be a DVD with the digital copies of the pictures. Even digital copies on a flash drive etc. of pictures are considered a product, eventually you will print or share them, and all the work that goes into that product is taxable as well. For example, if you buy a widget at a store, you can’t separate the labor that went into that widget from the cost of the widget itself. In the same way I can’t separate the labor of the photography service from the digital or physical copies because it all goes into producing the final product.

You may find a photographer that doesn’t charge sales tax or that separates cost. However if they are audited, they could be driven out of business all together with the cost of back taxes. I make sure I do everything correctly by collecting proper SC sales tax and having business licenses.

What business licenses do you have and why is this important?

Especially for a wedding it is important that your vendors have proper business licenses. At Myrtle Beach city owned locations they will check the license status of all your vendors and they will not allow the wedding to be held if any vendors lack a license. I keep a general Horry County license as well as for North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach. I’m also a licensed retail business with SC. I even have my business name now as a registered trademark. There are a lot of dishonest service businesses in this area, I would recommend to always make sure they have proper business licenses before booking.

South Carolina Retail Business License
Horry County Business License 2019
2019 City of Myrtle Beach Business License
City of North Myrtle Beach Business License 2019
Registered Service Mark with US Trademark Office

Latest Engagement Reviews – Click here for more

Heidi Dixon

Our engagement pictures from Ryan Smith Photography were amazing! He is a wonderful photographer and captures beautiful moments. He was pleasant to work with and was very patient as my fiancé has never had(...)

Ashley Hall

My boyfriend and I got our pictures made by Ryan while we were on vacation in Myrtle Beach. Ryan was awesome to work with he had so many good ideas for pictures. I am so so happy with the results. We received(...)

Hannah Kroska

Ryan photographed Brad's and my engagement pictures and he did such an amazing work! He was incredibly friendly, helped us feel relaxed throughout the process, and so so kind. He got the pictures to us exactly(...)

Kirstin Hooven

Ryan is the most wonderful photographer we have ever come across, hands down. Super easy to work with, very friendly, and got the BEST angles and lighting. For someone who is self conscious about photos of(...)