The Proposal! And She Said …………….

During the wintertime I had the great honor of photographing my client’s proposal!

As a photographer you do pretty much anything to get the shot!  Without hesitation, off came my shoes and socks so I could wade through the freezing cold, calf-deep water, over to the tide pool area at Natural Bridges State Park.  There I tried hard to look inconspicuous as I prepared to take candid pictures of my client’s proposal.  I was very grateful for the help of some by-standers, a Mom and two young girls. They became my “clients” so I could remain incognito, as we waited for my “real client” to select just the right spot for the big moment!



You can guess by their faces that she said YES!

To celebrate their love I wanted to include a verse or a poem. My absolute favorite verse on the topic of love is St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians. It’s wisdom inspires my soul.  However the simplicity and innocence of the short poem below, feels divinely appropriate for this post. It appears to have been written by a 4th grade student for school. The sentiments expressed are ageless and timeless.

Wishing my clients a lifetime of happiness together! May your engagement images always remind you to seek love and you will naturally find ways to bridge your differences…


Posted in beach, Blog Posts, Engagement, love, Natural Bridges, photography, Portrait Photography, portraits, Professional Photography, Proposal, santa cruz, Studio R, StudioR | Leave a comment

Newborn Photography by StudioR Santa Cruz

“A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” — Eda J. Le Shan.

I recently had the honor of photographing this beautiful newborn family!



I’m certain this little guy was smiling in the family photo!

“When an adult gives birth to her first child,  she also gives birth to a parent.”  — Carol Orsborn    (Two parents actually!)




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Improving Photos! Tips from StudioR Santa Cruz


Today I saw a photo of a Mom, Dad and newborn child in another photographer’s window. It was a stunning photo! And so, as an Artist, I contemplated what made it so stunning.  Whilst admiring this particular photo it brought to mind a photo I had taken several years ago and I wondered if I could improve my photo with some artistic changes.

2014-02-06_0001Here’s my original picture (to the left). It’s a pretty good photo: it’s not cluttered, the people are smiling and relaxed. It’s technically well exposed and in focus.

I decided to made three simple changes.  1) I decreased the clarity to give it a gentler feel. 2) I cropped in closer keeping the rule-of-thirds in mind. The baby’s eye falls in the sweet spot.  3) Then I added a white vignette to make the faces more prominent to draw your attention to the expressions more.  It only took a few moments to make these changes in Adobe Lightroom.

Here’s the photo with the three changes (below).


I really love color and I often find it difficult to let it go, and to turn images into black and white or sepia tones.  However, because of the simplicity of this image, I thought it might be enhanced by both changes.  Or at least they would be as good as the color version!

Here’s the Black and white version (below). I tend to like turning images into black and white by simply decreasing the saturation, and then sometimes tweaking the tone curve a little, in Lightroom (increasing lights and decreasing darks).


Here is the Sepia version again (below).   It’s just a quick click on a pre-installed preset in Lightroom to make the change!


I think I like the Sepia version best.  However it’s always important to me, as a professional photographer, to start with a good, properly exposed color image!

Oh and by the way; I’m not intending to advertise Lightroom!  It speaks for itself!

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Valentine’s Day Pin-up and Boudoir Photography in Santa Cruz!

The consistent feedback I hear from my clients, who have given their partners boudoir photographs as a gift, is that their partners feel it was “the best gift ever!”  They tend to feel very appreciated and touched to receive something so intimate and thoughtful.

If you are looking for that special gift, there’s still some time to book a boudoir or pin-up session before Valentine’s Day!  Mention this post and receive extra digital files valued from $60-$100. (Two files for my Session 2 package, and four for my Session 3 package.)  Contact: Reija “Rae-a” at 831-332-0375 or

Here’s some sample pinup/boudoir photos to inspire you!  Models: Krista Marie, Sonia Tiger, Lauren Beasley at StudioR Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa CruzBoudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

Boudoir / Pinup Valentine's Day Photos in Santa Cruz

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StudioR Santa Cruz: New Portrait Studio!

StudioR Santa Cruz recently moved to a new location at the El Rancho Shopping Center, in Pleasure Point!  Here’s my shop front and a self portrait of me Owner/Photographer Reija “Rae-a” Janneson Bolwell.  I specialize in all types of portraits: from baby to boudoir and everything in between!

I’m available for portrait sessions by appointment. You are also welcome to book a free consultation to come and meet me and see my studio.  I would love to create a unique portrait for you!  Contact 831-332-0375 or

StudioR Santa Cruz

Here’s a peek inside my studio space!  It’s even greater in person!

StudioR Santa Cruz

My front desk, made of repurposed wood!

StudioR Santa Cruz

Some portrait backdrops, studio lights and furniture, including an authentic, antique fainting couch.

StudioR Santa Cruz

More backdrops, lights, props and furniture.

StudioR Santa Cruz

My concrete floor is painted in three different colors to create different photography sets.

“The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.” — Alan Alda.

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Late Summer Beach Portraits, by StudioR Santa Cruz

I love this time of year in Santa Cruz!   Seems we have the warmest weather in late August/early September.  We have many hot days without fog, the water is relatively warm and the crowds are gone!   It’s a great time for some beach portraits!

These were taken at the Capitola Wharf late afternoon/early evening.

The colorful Capitola Venetian makes a great backdrop for portraits!

The gate at the Wharf creates a nice prop!Capitola Beach Portrait by StudioR Santa Cruz

Model: Natalia Lockwood

Hair, Makeup & Styling: Natalia Lockwood

Photography: Reija, StudioR SantaCruz

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There’s still time to book your High School or College Senior Portrait Session!

Portrait Photography by StudioR Santa CruzIt’s not too late to book your Senior Portrait Session! Mention this post and receive 25% Off! Contact Reija “Rae-a” of StudioR Santa Cruz at 831-332-0375 or!

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