Behind the camera or behind the bar, Ryan Butschle is living his best life on what he calls a wild roller coaster ride.
Photography was just a hobby for Ryan Butschle until pro bono work for his employer’s social media site turned into bookings for family beach pictures, engagements, weddings and corporate work.
“I never thought I’d be doing stuff like this,” he says. “Making some extra money and doing something I absolutely love.”
With a stream of steady clients, Butschle created City 2 Sea Media in 2020 and kept his full-time job at Salty Turtle Beer Company in Surf City. The multi-media company serves individuals and businesses of Topsail Island and surrounding areas.
“With our beautiful landscape and endless opportunities to capture cool pictures, I quickly realized that I could turn this hobby into something more,” he says.
The shutterbug gene runs in the family. Butschle remembers his mother always carrying around a camera, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. He took photography in high school, developing photos in the dark room and learning the technical side of the industry, and the rest he taught himself. “Today’s cameras are completely different, so I took to YouTube and the Internet to teach myself about new age photography and technology,” he says.
Butschle and his wife, Stefani, hail from Pittsburgh. Their trek south started when Butschle was stationed at Camp Lejeune in 2011. When he got out of the Marine Corps in 2018, the couple decided staying in the area was better for his wife’s job, so they moved a short distance to Holly Ridge.
“We absolutely love where we live, and it makes the commute super easy to get to the island and surrounding areas,” he says.
After serving in the Marine Corps, Butschle became a police officer and dove into investigative photography before going to work for the Salty Turtle Beer Company, where one job has led to another.
“I have had the ability to work on projects solely off of conversations I’ve had with customers — and that’s what makes this area so cool to work in,” he says.
Since opening in 2020, City 2 Sea Media has continued growing and has recently added videography to its list of services.
“I find myself becoming more attracted to working with local businesses to help with content for their social media and websites,” he says. “This area is expanding so quickly with new business.
With each client, Butschle hopes to instill a sense of trust.
“I let my work speak for itself, but it’s the overall experience I want my clients to enjoy,” he says. “Not everyone enjoys being in front of a camera, and I like to make the experience as painless and fun as possible.”
He’s recently teamed up with Quiet Waters Realty Group for a new video series called “Small Business Spotlight,” highlighting small business owners and giving them a platform to tell their stories. Quiet Waters Realty Group owner Sean McDonnell says he was looking to partner with someone who shared his passion for the Surf City community.
“Ryan stood out above the rest,” McDonnell says. “He has phenomenal vision and a high level of creativity that shines through his work.”
Butschle says he is enjoying the ride and encourages other would-be entrepreneurs to go for what’s calling them.
“Even if it is a side thing, there’s so much potential and the possibilities are limitless,” he says. “I’m managing my full-time job as well my side business and I’ve never been happier.”