Business student photographs grads

Ryan Hiller takes passion to next level; got licensed to start photography business



Ryan Hiller started photography in high school and has continued throughout college life.


Ryan Hiller, junior marketing major and communications minor, first picked up a camera his senior year of high school. Since then, he has taken his skills and started his own company, Hiller’s Photos.

When Hiller first started his photography journey, he borrowed his dad’s Nikon D3100 and began taking pictures of his close friends. He used the free software GIMP to edit his photographs, he said.

When Hiller started school at WSU, he decided to buy a Sony A6500 and a 50 mm lens, he said. For the most part, he still shot for fun.

During his freshman year, he started charging $25 for portrait sessions for friends and friends of friends. By the end of his freshman year, Hiller increased prices to $50 for one-hour graduation photo sessions, he said. He advertised his services on Instagram and Facebook, in groups like the Parent Chat Cafe and Die Hard Cougs, and through word of mouth via his friends.

Last December, he decided he was making enough money to buy a business license for himself, he said. He continued to take graduation photos this semester.

Madisyn Miller, a 2020 WSU graduate commented over email on how Hiller chose to conduct himself during photo shoots to give the client the best possible experience.

“I just loved how real he was. Ryan does a lot of photoshoots and works with a lot of different people, so he is a busy guy,” Miller wrote. “However, at our shoot he took his time to take the best shots, he even showed me some during the shoot to see if I was liking them (I know some photographers don’t do that!).”

Hiller made her photoshoot more focused on what she wanted and was even willing to photograph her and her boyfriend, even though that was not part of the original plan. He knew it was important to her and accommodated that, Miller said.

Hiller is thankful for the support he received along the way, especially during lockdown.

“It’s pretty cool having a good support system. It definitely was tough over the past year with COVID and everything,” he said. “When I was doubting myself throughout all this, my friends and fraternity were supporting me the entire time.”

Hiller plans to change direction in the future. When he started school as a freshman, he became involved in the Student Entertainment Board and ZZU Crew. As a part of these organizations, he was given the opportunity to photograph rapper T-Pain and duo 3OH!3 during Spring Fest.

After graduating, Hiller hopes that he can move to a big city where there will be more opportunities to take pictures for concerts.

“My dream job would be to go on tour with an artist and be their concert photographer,” Hiller said.

Hiller’s degree may not be in photography, but it helped him create and run his own business.