About Ryan Oakley

A side-hustler with a passion to teach useful stuff online

That's me, right there.

Trying to be “artsy” with a self-portrait window reflection.

I wasn't always so creative. In fact, as an engineer, I was pretty rigid about “who I was”.

I was a math geek.

I was a scientist.

I didn't “get” art. 

But when I was 26, that all changed.

When I was 26, I got my hands on a half-decent digital camera.

Wow. Instantly my creative juices started flowing like never before.

I didn't realize how important creativity was to my happiness before this moment.

But I fell in love with photography. It was the perfect match of geeky science stuff like the relationship between ISO, shutter speed, and aperture, with the ability to create beautiful art.

I was hit with the photography bug – big time.

I wanted to shoot all the time.

I carried my camera everywhere.

I read books and blog posts about technique and gear.

Speaking of gear, I wanted it all.

But specifically, I wanted this new lens for my dSLR.

But it was almost $1000.

I couldn't afford it at the time.

So I had the crazy idea of earning some extra cash on the side – with my camera.

I loved taking portraits and was getting pretty good at them.

So I set out to shoot some weddings to earn some cash to help fund my photography addiction.

Sure enough, some friends that had seen my images were keen to hire me.


I read and studied and prepared ferociously for that first paid gig – I did NOT want to screw it up!

The big day came, and I worked my tail off.

I was in the zone and loving it. 

Nervous? Yes. But doing it!

I was so happy to be using my talent to document one of the most important days in this young couple's lives.

And they loved the photos!


Now what?

I bought that beautiful lens!

And then realized I needed a website.

More research. Then I built a website.

www.ryanoakleyphotography.ca was born.

I shot more weddings, more family portrait sessions, more landscapes.

When I wanted to learn something new, I Googled it.

Sometimes I couldn't find what I was looking for.

Like – how a tutorial on how to build a photography website from scratch – with every step.

I thought I could use my experience to build “how to” information for others to find.

That's when this site, www.photographyontheside.com, was born!

I took weeks to build my first tutorial on how to create a gorgeous photography website using SmugMug.

That was back in 2011.

I had no idea if it would help anyone – but I was soon blown away by how many views and likes and positive comments I received on that tutorial.

I love helping people. And that's what this site is all about!

Hopefully, I've been able to help you too.

Thanks for being here!

Here are 5 Reasons Why I'm Not Qualified to Teach You Anything About Photography and Why You Shouldn't Waste Your Valuable Time With Me.

  1. I have not been passionately in love with photography since I was a 3 year old.  In fact, I didn't really give 2 hoots about photography until I got my first “decent” point and shoot camera back in 2005 before going on a big trip to Thailand with my wife.  But once I did get that camera, I was hooked and have devoured the craft ever since.
  2. I will never start a sentence with…”Back in my film days…”  Sorry.  I never really had those days.  Sure I used to love picking up a freshly printed set of photos from the supermarket, but by no means would I call myself a “photographer” back then.  Yikes.
  3. I shoot weddings and family portraits part-time not full-time. I admire the person who shoots 30-40 weddings per year. But that just doesn't appeal to me. I have no intentions of trying to earn enough income from my camera to replace my day job. At least not yet, anyway.
  4. I don't own Photoshop CS. Photoshop is really expensive, and when I first started out it looked like it was a hell of a program to learn.  But it's also the industry standard for photo editing (which sounds weird to say compared to “photoshopped”).  So back when I started to shoot I told myself I would buy it when I felt I really needed it.  So far, I haven't really needed it. 98% of my workflow is done with Adobe Lightroom.  The rest is with Photoshop Elements.  There, I said it.
  5. There are times when I go weeks without shooting. I have a busy life and if I kept my camera around my neck 24/7 the back of my kids heads would be very bruised. So there are times when I put my camera away for long stretches. I do love taking great photos, but I'm probably not the most fanatic photographer you've ever met.

Yikes, I'm glad I got that off my chest.  Still here?  Cool.

And Now, 5 Reasons Why I Created This Website and Why You Might Want To Stick Around

  1. There is always something new to learn and something valuable to share with photography.  Books, websites, magazines, your own work — everywhere you go there is an opportunity to learn something new about photography (as well as business, for that matter).  I love to learn and try new things.  So a good chunk of this website is me showing you what I have learned and continue to learn about this wonderful business.
  2. I have found success in my part-time photography business.  I'm totally ok being a part-time photographer and will likely keep it that way unless something drastically changes in my life.  My financial goal with my side-business is to fund my very expensive hobby and to create some fun money outside of the family budget to do extravagant things like go on my brothers annual golf trip. Those are my goals, and I meet them every year. I'm confident that if I wanted to go full-time I could make it happen — but doing that comes with other life costs I'm not willing to sacrifice just yet.
  3. I have very happy clients.  I'm certainty not the most talented photographer in the world (or even my city).  But I don't care about that.  What I care about is having happy clients.  It is such a wonderful feeling to hand over an online gallery or a wedding book to a client and have them email or call you and tell you how happy they are with their photos.  I want to teach you how to make that happen for yourself.
  4. I promise to treat my Photography On The Side (POTS) readers like I do my photography clients.  I'm approaching this website like a true business.  I want to provide you with valuable content.  I want to get you excited about becoming a part-time photographer.  And I want to give you solid tools, tips, and tricks that you can use to make your career more fulfilling and profitable.  If I'm not doing that, please tell me ok?
  5. I want to connect.  What an age we live in that we can connect with like minded individuals all over the world.  We can ask questions, share stories, inspire, and challenge each other. It's incredible. And I want to be a part of this world wide community. :)

So there you have it. I'm here to stay and I hope you are too.

If you feel like saying hello you can find me publicly on twitter @photosontheside or privately by sending me an message from my contact page.

Here's to your success, and mine!

Ryan Oakley