5 Photographers to Know in San Jose

Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia | © Lynna Nguyen/ Courtesy Lynna Nguyen Photography | © Lynna Nguyen/ Courtesy Lynna Nguyen Photography
Gwen Purdom

Beyond the gleaming tech headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley lies San Jose’s visual appeal. Whether they’re capturing the colorful lights of the SubZero Festival in downtown’s SoFa District or a bride’s gleeful anticipation on her wedding day, San Jose’s community of photographers see their city through a wide range of artistic lenses. Here are five local shutterbugs—some seasoned vets, some just getting started—you should know.

Rayna Opoku

In her own words, Rayna Opoku describes herself as ‘loving love.’ This is very apparent in her work: Opoku’s portfolio is filled with adoring couples, and not just on their wedding days. She catches her subjects in their natural state, sometimes stealing a glance in a scenic, wooded landscape, sometimes laughing on their living room couch. Opoku has had a passion for photography since high school. Though her work is currently centered on the Bay Area, she says she’s eager to incorporate more of her enthusiasm for travel into her images, like the dramatic ocean scenes she photographed on a recent trip to Thailand. She says on her Studio site, “I aspire to capture the raw, in-between moments that take your breath away.”

A shot from San Jose photographer Rayna Opoku’s recent trip to Thailand
Boats in Thailand

When she’s not working with clients as a life coach, Canadian transplant Aleisha Bonin shoots street and landscape scenes throughout Northern California. Her photographs—lively, shadowy shots of the city’s Sonic Runway art installation; vibrant weekend life in the SoFA District; dappled sunlight on a Santa Cruz beach—stretch across the peninsula. On occasion, they tour around the world. Her series of vintage photographs—selectively colorized and haunting—are worth a look, too.

“As a relative newcomer to the Bay Area, I have been blown away by the variety and scope of beauty to be found here,” Bonin said in an email. “In my work, I seek to capture the moments, the people, the colors and the movement which are as diverse as the topography here. Where one might focus on the extraordinary diversity of the Bay Area microclimates, I revel at what I consider to be the ‘micro-cultures’ present. It is indeed an honor to bear witness to the majesty of it all.”

“Homecoming” in downtown San Jose, CA
“Elephant Love Tunnel,” Sonic Runway Installation near San Jose City Hall

Victoria Smyrniotis

Portraits may not always feature sweeping views or particularly complicated compositions, but when they’re done well, they’re just as striking. Victoria Smyrniotis’ portraits get up close to the people in them, whether that means highlighting a subject’s dimples or the twinkle in their eyes. Personality shines through in every shot. And after recently celebrating her first full year as a full-time photographer, Smyrniotis’ future is surely filled with humanity-provoking sessions.

A portrait by San Jose, CA photographer Victoria Smyrniotis
A portrait by San Jose, CA photographer Victoria Smyrniotis

Katia Drozd

Katia Drozd’s photos often surround her subjects with rich scenery, but it’s her talent for connecting with the people in her images that makes her work stand out. Since relocating to San Jose from Belarus, Drozd has focused her work on lifestyle, wedding, portrait, maternity, engagement, and family photography. Her pictures have a whimsical quality to them that’s just as eye-catching in a traditional engagement shoot as it is in an editorial spread.

San Jose Rose Garden
Japanese Friendship Garden, San Jose, CA

Lynna Nguyen

Majestic architecture set against moody clouds in Colombia. Grinning big-brothers-to-be. Trendy new bars. Lifestyle photographer Lynna Nguyen captures a little bit of everything in her work. Making a plate of fried chicken for a corporate client look as impressive as a nightscape in the mountains of San Pedro de Atacama, Chilé is no easy feat.

San Jose, CA family photography
Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia
landscape with balloons floating in the air


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