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Looking into the future of photography with Ryan Marshall

'I want to work with people that just want to have pictures of themselves that they can be proud of and appreciate'

“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market. 


Social Media has changed and influenced many aspects of our daily lives, including how many people do their jobs. North Bay Photographer Ryan Marshal says one of the most dramatic shifts social media has caused is on the photography business.  

“Social Media has created a generation of clients who just want you to capture what they were doing,” he says.  

Marshall looks at is as an evolution in the genre through the generations.  

“Photography has shifted from ‘smile at the camera’ to ‘capture a genuine moment,’” says Marshall.  

“Sometimes it does look awesome and social media brought that trend around where you are trying to make it look like you were just there in the moment.” 

And he says that trend can be a very profitable market to capitalize on for photographers.  He says, “Social Media has created a demand to look fabulous all the time, and this has made photography a service.” 

But he says that trend really isn’t his niche  

“I want to work with people that just want to have pictures of themselves that they can be proud of and appreciate,” he says.   

“I’ve been doing this now for about a decade and last year I hit a milestone of photographing my 100th wedding. Anytime you can get to a number like that you can feel pretty accomplished.” 

Marshall says he loves the thrill and excitement that comes with doing wedding day photography.  

“Not everyone can do them,” he says.  

“I really like the challenge of going through a wedding day because you really get one shot at everything. I just have to go with the flow of whatever is happening. If the father of the bride is bringing her down the aisle I can’t yell out, ‘ok everybody can we just stop for a second, I need to get this shot here!’ I just have to do my best to get that shot. First kiss, first dance, there are just so many moments during that day you have to be aware of and now how you’re going to attack that.” 

Marshall says you get a list of the photographs the clients want but outside of that there are so many moments during that day that are unplanned and capturing people in candid situations, “turn out to be some of the best stuff.”

“I really like the human experience and that is what is really cool about weddings as well, you get to hear all these stories and you get a real window into these peoples lives, that authentic glimpse as to what people are like,” says Marshall, who adds that’s one of the reasons he was drawn to photography in the first place.  

“I’ve always had a fascination of art and with human nature and photography offered me that link where you can capture the human experience. I just thought that if I could be good at this, this could be a profitable business endeavour that just seemed natural. I didn’t go to school for photography, I did a mentorship program with Shawn Moreton who let me help him do weddings where I was in charge of lighting and that kind of set up.”  

And from there he’s now photographed 100 weddings on his own, including some on destination.  

“One in Mexico, one in the Florida Keys and there was an opportunity for me to do a wedding in Australia for a friend from high school who lives there,” he says.   

“That’s one of the really neat perks about being a photographer is that there can be some travel involved and you might get to go to places and experience places you might never thought you would get to.”  

Marshall says no matter how many you’ve done, you always have to be prepared for any situation that could throw all that planning out the window.  

“I did a wedding this past June and the wedding party said they wanted their pictures up at the Monastery at Nipissing University. Well the black flies up there are a real thing and immediately when we went up there, the ladies dresses just got covered and they were getting bitten and it was so bad that we had to move,” says Marshall.  

“All of a sudden it was like ‘ok Ryan, where are we going?’ and that’s where you just have to have something in your back pocket and having a general idea of where the best places to take pictures are in the area you’re working in.”  

Marshall says aside from weddings, family portraits and other shoots, his biggest achievement is getting the job to by the photographer for the upcoming 2022 North Bay Firefighter Calendar, in support of Community Living.  

“What an awesome thing to be a part of,” says Marshall.  

“Anytime you can pair with a charity and do something like that, it is so worth it. It’s really a win-win for me because they are going to print 3,000 copies of this calendar which will have my name on it, but they are raising money for such an amazing cause.” 

And it is a cause that is close to Marshalls heart.  

“Because of my full-time role as an educator, I do a lot of work with the students with exceptionalities who come out of high school and rely on Community Living for their next steps in life,” he says.   

“So on top of showing off my portfolio, I think what separated me from the rest was knowing about Community Living and what their organization does and the fact that I am very invested in seeing these young people succeed when they have moved on from high school and knowing how much this calendar is going to help with raising funds, it all just really felt like a natural fit.” 

Marshall says he had to compete against seven other photographers in an interview process and that he initially missed the interview deadline.  

“Somehow the email got missed,” he says.  

“I finally saw it and I replied just after the deadline saying that I was interested if they hadn’t yet made a decision. They had a last-minute spot for an interview and they said they already had the person picked but were interested in what I had to bring to the table. So I went in, and I guess I was just having a good day and I was swinging at everything and it was connecting and they said you really impressed us in the interview and we have decided to switch and I got the job.” 

Marshall says it was a process that could not have happened without North Bay Firefighter Brian Samson.  

“I gave him the title of ‘creative director of photographer’ because he set up all the sets and got us into all the locations and put together all the schedules for the models,” says Marshall.  

“He was so organized and every shoot was so well put together. We did one at Gateway City Brewing, we went to the Canadore Aviation Campus, we did the Chippewa Creek. It was pretty labour intensive for everybody. Just the journey that these guys go on just to be in the shape that they are in and the demands they put on themselves is impressive, I mean they look like superheroes.” 

Marshall says he has taken on interns in the past but the main advice he has for people who want to be photographers going forward is to market themselves on social media.  

“Contract photography is highly competitive because of the ease of entry into the field. Anyone with a camera and a social media account is a photographer. But like musicians and other artists, talent will get you hired.”  

Marshall adds, “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to provide people with snapshots of their loved ones and their experiences.”  

If you have story idea for the Jobs of the Future series, send Matt an email at [email protected]  

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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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