Ryan Smith Photography’s engagement portrait prices, information and Q&A
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 10 years now! 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 quite a bit different from a typical portrait photographer. I use a 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. 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. This gives a different look than you get from typical beach portraits. A reasonable amount of artistic and general touch-up Photoshop work on prints included at no charge.
Myrtle Beach Sunset Engagement Photography Prices
Price: May – September : $600 | Any other month : $400
There are no upsells or additional costs to worry about with this package! It includes the full high resolution digital files with a copyright release and a $50 print credit. SC requires sales tax of 8% added if you are a resident of SC.
What is included?
This includes the full resolution digital copies of your pictures and any print credit listed above. There are no separate sitting fees or hidden charges. Click here for an example of the beautiful client gallery system. Features you will have like downloading and purchases are disabled in the example. You can make your own prints anywhere you like from the digital files or you can choose to order some through the client gallery. Typically I take about 200-400 pictures during a session, I usually narrow these down to about 100-200 pictures that I adjust and tweak 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.
Where and When?
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.
I usually get a $100 deposit which is deducted from your total to hold the date. You can give me the final payment when it’s convenient at the session or send it sometime after. If because of rain or strong wind we have to cancel the session and we can’t reschedule, I will fully refund the deposit.
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 good job working with available conditions. However, I always work with a satisfaction guaranteed policy. I never want someone unhappy with my work. However, please 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.
Price of Prints (Optional)
Prints can be easily ordered through your client gallery using your photo credit (if included) and by credit card (Of course you can download and get prints made anywhere you like as well). These are 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 photo prints reasonable. Below are some samples of prices, for a full list of options visit the example gallery and click “Buy Photo” at the top of any image. Standard Photo Prints – 8 Wallets $6 | 4×6 $4 | 5×7 $5.50 | 8×10 $10 | 11×14 $15 | 16×20 $30 | 20×30 $50 | 24×30 $60 Canvas Gallery Wrap – 8×10 $100 | 11×14 $125 | 16×20 $150 | 20×30 $200. Many more sizes and mounting options available.
Common Family and Engagement Session Questions
Myrtle Beach State Park vs Huntington State Park for photography?
Many 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 moss 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.
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.
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.
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 touchups?
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 turn around time on a picture order?
The printing service I use has a fast turn around 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 touchups 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.
Business License Information
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. There are a lot of dishonest photographers in this area, I would recommend to always make sure they have proper business licenses before booking.
Latest Engagement Reviews – Click here for more
I would highly recommend Ryan for your photography needs. We traveled to Myrtle Beach from Ohio to get our engagement pictures done on the beach. Ryan was helpful, engaged, and responded quickly to emails for(...)
Ryan was amazing! We had a blast during or engagement photo session :) we are very pleased with the turn out of our photos and look forward to having him shoot our wedding.