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New Jersey-based Ron Wyatt is a corporate and editorial photographer with a prestigious and diverse clientele. In 2008, he covered the Beijing Olympic Games for Kodak, creating iconic images of athletes and breathtaking scenics and national landmarks. With retirement still some 10 years away, for the past year or two Ron had begun looking for an opportunity that would allow him to gradually transition into retirement. 


Ron Wyatt Photography

Dancer performs during show, Xian, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


I interviewed Ron recently to find out about the lucky happenstance that changed his dream into a reality. What are his retirement plans, goals and concerns, and why is he “Easy like Sunday Morning” about his photography career? 


Q What had been your objective in making a gradual transition into retirement?


A  When I was ready to retire I would explore the world with my wife, shooting travel photography. Then I would add the photos to my stock photo library and organize gallery showings from the trips. Ideally, I’d have an easy transition from working pro to traveling and capturing what I saw. Quite by chance, I lucked into an ideal opportunity at the 2009 PhotoPlusExpo in New York. I was in Unique Photo’s booth waiting to give a talk on my experience covering the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Also there for my presentation was Mike Gulbraa, a professional photographer and owner of M&M Photo Tours. Picking up on my pre-speech jitters, he offered words of encouragement. After my talk, he said he’d like to discuss my being the guest pro on one of their upcoming tours. In September 2010, we did our first tour together, M&M’s China’s Best Treasure Tour. I had found a perfect solution for transitioning into a new phase of my career and eventual retirement.


Photography Career

Great Wall in Beijing, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


Q This business arrangement happened so quickly. Did you have any concerns? 


A  Mike and I hit it off from day one. I’m very laid back about things. If something bad were to happen, I’d learn from the experience and move on but I basically go with the flow. While M&M is technically a vendor, we have more of a partnership and a trusting relationship. I had no idea what to expect that first trip. I prepared lesson plans on various photography subjects but we shot morning, noon and night. A few times, I held brief, informal lessons in the back of the bus en route to our next location. 


Photography Career Advice

Terra Cotta Warriors, Xian, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


My biggest concern is being away from home. You never know what’s going to happen. The night before I was to leave for the China’s Best Treasure trip, a tree fell down in my drive way. I’m glad I was there to handle it. Also, some clients have begun to express concern that if my business grows, I won’t want to work with them. Not to worry. In Beijing, air quality was a factor, but it didn’t affect me. Food can be a concern. Another concern is trip cancellation, which happened in 2011.


Photography Careers

Abandon barbershop, Tongli, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


Q What are the immediate benefits of this business venture?

A I’m still a working pro for another 10 years, so traveling with M&M will serve as an ideal backup when business is slow. I never know what my corporate and editorial workload will be each month, but I can commit to a monthly trip with M&M. Any time that remains I’ll accept other assignments. 

Beyond having the opportunity to get paid to travel, I know what I’ll be doing during that timeframe, which has a liberating effect. No more guessing where or when I’m shooting stock, writing off the trip and paying for everything. I’m able to plan out my time and gain an income from doing something I love. That's something I never dreamed of. I’m not the richest person, but I am ‘Easy like Sunday morning’ and very fulfilled. I love what I do. It’s never a job. It’s ‘what’s new today?’


Photo Career

Man having lunch in Longsheng, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


Q Any insights for pro shooters considering a similar transition to retirement?


A Do everything you can to make your photos appealing and your tutorials informative. You want your guests to say, “That guy was great. We had a great time. Where are you going next? I want to go again.” Read your camera manuals and other photography material, magazines, visit websites and blogs to be up to speed on technical issues. Your goal should be for registrants to walk away saying they picked up a lot of information and it was well worth their time. 


Strive for a situation where you meet the right people at the right time. Hopefully, you can establish trust early on so you can relax and become partners, each one doing what he or she is supposed to do. Most photographers are one-man bands, so it’s fun to partner with a photo tour company. It’s pretty cool to know someone has your back. 


Photo Careers

Great Wall in Beijing, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


Q Any irons in the fire besides the February 2012 trip? 

A retired teachers group, which has logged thousands of miles of international travel, may join an M&M 2012 photo tour. To turn retired teachers into really good photographers and have an exhibit of their work—I’d love that challenge. I think it would be an inspirational story to tell. I’m also searching for a potential sponsor for the London Olympic Games. After the 2010 tour, I developed a talk called “My Second Greatest Photography Experience”— the first one being my coverage at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games—which I delivered to camera clubs, workshops, and photo retailers across the U.S. Next year, I hope to say that the London Olympic Games is my Greatest Photography Experience.


Photo Career Information

Young kid takes a break from playing, Beijing, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt


Photography Careers

Shot at Closing Ceremony of the XXIX Olympiad, at the National Stadium (the Bird's Nest), Beijing China August 2008  Photo @ Ron Wyatt


China photos

Mom and daughter in doorway, Guilin, China. Photo @ Ron Wyatt

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love your work ,love the Abandon Barbershop just beautiful.......
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