2018- Where the hell have I been?

I know, I know. It’s been ages since I wrote a blog post. I’m sorry! A LOT has been going on. Now that the dust has somewhat settled, I wanted to take the time to create some content and fill you Coconuts in on what has happened the last couple of months.

For starters, I spent my first Christmas break with Coleman’s family, which was amazing! Can you believe in the five years we’ve been together, we haven’t spent a single Christmas together?! Now that we are back into the full swing of things, I’ve had to re-acquaint myself with early morning awakenings and Yoga Sculpt, and Teacher Training, which consumed my life the past couple months before the holidays. All of that in week 1 of the new year has put my body into a weak state, which made me susceptible to colds (thanks a lot, Coleman). I have been out on my ass this week, trying to work from home between the body aches and the fever. Thankfully, recovery is on the horizon.

To continue with my content creation in 2018, I’ve committed to starting my own YouTube Channel. If you haven’t seen my first video, go check it out.

This was an extremely off the cuff and vulnerable experience, but I think I enjoyed this process and will continue to create more content for you all. I’ve also committed to taking more photos this year, so I’m excited to share my art with all of you!


Here are a few fun images I took in the last couple weeks. Inspired by the holidays, twinkly lights, and the sunset.

a sunset in San Diego, a place I can’t wait to call Home.






Thanks for tuning in on my journey!







How to achieve “soft lighting” in photos under HARSH lighting conditions

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Speaking of giving thanks, I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to shoot a pre-senior portrait for the beautiful Bailey Gomez. Bailey is graduating from Menlo College this year, and we were so eager to take some beautiful portraits in the Fall season. That being said, there will be another shoot when she gets her official cap and gown, so stay tuned for that.

Before the holiday festivities officially start, I wanted to write a brief post showing you guys how to work under harsh lighting conditions based on my experience. The truth is, it’s always preferable to shoot during GOLDEN HOUR. Golden hour is shortly after sunrise, or before sunset, when the sun is softer and slightly more red. This window of time changes during the seasons, but the prettiest hues when shooting with natural light, in my experience, can be found in the Fall (I’ll explain why in a bit). Here’s where it gets tricky. You might be asking “what if my client can’t make that time frame work?” Also, shooting during golden hours doesn’t automatically translate into a good shot with quality lighting. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, is everything. Even the harshest light can be saved by the surrounding environment if it is a good location.

What’s a good location? Here are a few things I look for:

  1. What does the scenery look like when my client is backlit? This is important. You need to be able to get the right scenery where the sun is behind your subject for the best “glowing” effects/ light, or at least this is the ideal condition to work under. Just because you pick a pretty location, it doesn’t mean your client will get to use up that space. For instance, I want to shoot in a garden where there is water and a bridge and I want to shoot here specifically to capture the water and the bridge. If I don’t do some upfront planning, this might not pan out based on where the sun is at a particular time of day. That location could look great after sunrise, but by 3:00pm or 4:00pm when the sun is ideal and lower in the sky (in the Fall), the sun might be facing towards my client in the opposite direction, which can cause them to squint, or create additional shadows on their faces. This isn’t a complete lost though, it just might mean some additional time in post processing if those images aren’t coming out the way it would if the subjects were backlit. You with me so far?
  2. What in the location can I use to reflect light naturally? I ask myself this all the time because I hardly work with studio lights and flash when I’m in the outdoors. There’s nothing wrong with using flash, but my aesthetic is typically something softer. Not to mention, I am a one man show and prefer not to lug heavy equipment around if I don’t have to. This is important to consider because if the sun is too bright or high in the sky during a shoot, I look for shade, and I look for reflectors. What are reflectors? Anything in nature that can reflect light back to my subject. For instance, water, tree leaves, white brick walls, lightly paved roads, even stones and rocks. If I can find shade, I’m in good hands. Why? It’s better to photograph images that are slightly dim and most photographers do this any way and then later bring the image up in post processing. I like to do this myself to eliminate any washed out photos. It’s easier to brighten and expose an image than it is to gain back highlights and washed out details. trust me.

In parallel to finding a good location, it’s important to consider a color theme. This helps me “save” or work with harsh lighting when I’m editing my photos because I can focus on bringing out certain colors, toning some down, toning the entire image altogether, playing with hues and saturation etc. All of these things come into play and trick the eye to seeing a much softer image than it actually is. Here is an example of using a color pallet:

A. Harsh lighting, raw image. Color pallet: blue, orange, orange/red, green, white. Fall hues. Mood: autumn, warm, happy.

In this photo, we wanted to get the shadows on the ground to indicate trees overhead. We loved the pathway and the leaves so I decided I would make this work. If I had turned Bailey’s back to the sun, that would be better, but the background wouldn’t have been as pretty and with a lot of people. Sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles.

IMG_1098 (1)

B. Post Processing. Yes, this is a different photo I realized, but she was in the exact same spot, so you get the idea. I played off the trees and extended the leaves down to the fence. Blurring the background further helps soften harsh lines and details that you can easily manipulate later. For instance, I used my paintbrush to add softer hues to the trees and background. I even added blush tones to the ground and her face to soften the shadows. we’re playing off the hues in her shirt, so everything is cohesive.


Raw image below: Same color pallet, same mood. In this photo, it’s pretty good to start because my subject is backlit. But notice I didn’t place her in an area with too many flowers or overly bright plants. I kept the hues along the lines of her color pallet. Everything either has a blue undertone (lavender), or an orange red (the autumn colors we were talking about earlier, which ties back to her shirt).


Finished Edit: I can use my paint brush to bring dial up the orange hues around her. This is the soft aesthetic we both wanted to achieve and playing with colors that intentionally existed in this photo, helps us achieve that look. I like more depth in my images so I blurred the background further. At first, I liked the rusty rod that ran across the plants behind her. I liked the texture and color, but when I was editing, I decided to remove that from the image because it was too distracting. As a rule of thumb, try not to have anything in the background that cuts through your subject unless it’s directly at the joints. For instance, if the rod was directly in line with her neck, it would have been easier for my eyes to digest, but since it runs through her temples, and isn’t straight, it makes me feel like the photo is crooked. This is just personal preference, but it’s important to consider.



Raw image: HARSH LIGHTING. What did we do to fix this? Look for open shade. It’s okay to switch up the scenery. You and your client will appreciate this.


Solution/final product: Below are examples of open shade with tons of natural reflectors. Even the ground helped reflect light back to my subject’s face.


Tip: If you like a particular area and it’s overly shaded or dark, try to get a few frames there anyway. We thought this part of the garden would be too dark, but it ended up working fine! You can always add light in post processing like I have done here.

thumb_IMG_1298_1024 FINAL2


Welp, there ya have it folks, as promised. Hope this helps and have a festive Thanksgiving coconuts!


courtney-reiko-logo1-submark logo


Life Updates, Owning a business (or trying to)

Hey my faithful readers, avid listeners, and fellow coconuts.

I must confess that it’s been a little while since I’ve written a new blog post, or published any new, interesting content in the last couple months. Let me update you on life real quick. Here is what I have been up to:

In August, I was rear ended on the freeway. I’m glad to be alive and well, however, I have been dealing with some very inconvenient, and annoying back pains. This has been a prolonged injury since the accident and I can’t seem to recover fully this time around. (I was out the whole week when the accident initially happened and now 3 months later, I’m experiencing more pain.) In addition to discovering that I now have issues with my back, my doctor has recommended that I stay away from any physical activities for the next two weeks. As many of you know, I work out and go to the yoga studio almost every morning. It’s my routine, and I love it. Not only that, but I’m also studying to become a yoga instructor at my favorite studio in my part time. I  know right, like I need any more jobs or part time gigs, but I am who I am; a busy woman who loves to be busy.  Timing of a bad back couldn’t be worse (not that there is ever a good time to be injured). I just want the whole thing to go away.

On a more positive note, I have been trying to make more time for my photography. It’s hard to balance this with a full time job, but I aim to make it all work. That being said, I have a cool photoshoot coming up this weekend and I’m so excited to share the results with everyone following this journey.

For more positive news, I just finished collaborating on my new logo for my freelance photography business. Yay! I’m on a long journey, but progress is always exciting. For more collaborations visit the comment section of my blog or write me here at courtney.reiko@gmail.com.



A Photoshoot in Davenport

IMG_4128IMG_4129As you all may already know, one of my best friends in the entire world finally moved back to the area. It was a sunny day over the hill this past Sunday and we couldn’t waste an opportunity to do some conceptual shooting.

I’m hoping to feature this goddess in an interview at some point. I’ve always wanted to host interviews on this blog, but never found the capacity to do so.  Any who, I took it upon myself to create some digital content for this yogi’s social accounts. If any of you are ever in Santa Cruz, please look her up and take her class. She is an awesome facilitator and instructor. We have so many cool projects and ideas in the works so stay tuned! So happy and blessed to have my creative soul sister back in this area. The inspiration is in full throttle!

Here are some frames from the day as well as some  “conceptual” pieces and edits.

Bayley’s Information Below:

Bayley Blackney IG handle: @earthchildbay

Studio Affiliates: Divinitree Yoga, Breath and Oneness





Being Alive

Whoa, remember when I tried to stick to my editorial schedule? Hah! yea, me either. For those of you new to my blog, I was once on a “kick” where every week, I would write about something that inspired me, or something that could inspire others. I called this “kick” Wednesday Inspo days. Why on Wednesday? It’s the hump in the week- once you get through it, it’s a downhill ride to the weekend, which for me, is always something I look forward to.

I haven’t been posting in a while and that’s not because I haven’t been inspired, it’s because I’ve been SO inspired, that I’ve been traveling, exploring, and out in the world just “doing the damn thing” (as I like to say). So why am I posting now? Because I feel like it. Because I can. Because I am alive and truly living.

There are a couple things that I am truly grateful for, well more than a couple things, but just a few that I will share in hopes that this is inspiring.

One- I am thankful, and proud to have been born and raised in Hawaii. There’s no surprise there- Hawaii people are always proud to say where they are from. In fact, if you’ve ever been anywhere else in the U.S. and you come across Hawaii Natives, that’s the first thing they’ll tell you right off the bat. It’s more than that though- I have a unique perspective in the world I live in BECAUSE I’m from such a unique cultural background. I suppose it’s the way foreign exchange students feel when they come to the U.S. I suppose for all intents and purposes, it’s the same feeling anyone else would feel if they chose to live somewhere they weren’t originally from. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to thrive in my community, and to take that context and thrive somewhere else entirely. I’m grateful because most people don’t get to do that in a lifetime. Some people stay in one place their entire lives. I could have stayed in Hawaii and there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that, but I’m glad I didn’t. I miss home, A LOT, but moving pushed me to grow and forced me to figure shit out. If I hadn’t moved, I wouldn’t have met Coleman.

Secondly, I’ve had mentors to guide me along at every stage in my life. NO JOKE. I was an athlete, which meant I had coaches. Once in a blue moon, when the stars align, the world comes across a player-coach relationship that goes beyond the perimeters of the volleyball court. This was the relationship I had with Coach Daryl. He’s taught me so much about tenacity, and how far that could take me in life. When I was twelve years old, Daryl introduced me to my first physical trainer, Steve Lee. My workout regimen changed forever, but it wasn’t just that, it was all the life lessons that came with it; I just didn’t know it at the time. If it weren’t for Steve, I wouldn’t be 5’6″ with a career as an outside hitter. We spent countless hours in the gym maximizing my strength, speed, endurance, explosiveness, and vertical. We did this for a number of consecutive years too. It wasn’t just physical workouts either. Steve used to push me to my absolute limits, and whenever I thought I was about to give up, or quit, or take a break, I would keep going because he would suddenly give me ten more reps, or a few more parachute runs. When you’re an athlete, physical and mental strength are sometimes intertwined with each other and this was a ritual at Steve’s gym.  There were no compliments with Steve or Daryl. It was always “that’s better, do it again” or “keep going” or “this could be better.” There was no hand holding, and whenever I thought too highly of myself, they were the first to humble me. It was always about the work, and whatever I put in to my training, I always got back in my results. I always wanted to be better because that was the culture they instilled in me. There was never an end goal with Daryl and Steve; it was always about moving the needle forward. I’m grateful for this. I’m grateful because I have gone my whole life never expecting a pat on the back for the work that I do and this has made my life easier than most in both my volleyball career and my professional career now. Even though my competitive volleyball days are somewhat over, I still talk to Daryl and Steve and see them every time I come home. When I need advice, they are the first two people that come to mind. I don’t know where I would be in life if it weren’t for their constant guidance.

I am grateful to have the means to travel. More importantly, I’m just grateful to be alive. Having a tough Thursday? Well, perhaps that’s why I wrote this. To make you think about the people that got you to where you are today. Are you on the grind? So is everyone else in Silicon Valley, and hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Are you tired? Good. If you aren’t, you’re not working hard enough. There’s a tiny voice in the back of your head that wants to complain, we all have it. For today, tell it to shut the fuck up. Get your head out of your ass and keep going because you’re alive.

So, stop bitching and go live.

Wednesday Inspo: Must Read Travel Blogs

I’ve been inspired by other bloggers out there this week; particularly travel blogs- no surprise there. It seems that travel blogs are all the rage these days, but it’s the only investment that will never go out of style, in my opinion. What could be better than investing in your experiences?

The following blogs are my current faves this week and have been getting me through this funky week; enjoy!

Also, personal life update- there’s a new IG feed called @thedscvrr that has also inspired me this week.  Check out their feed; it’s incredible! They recently reached out and asked me to join the community as an influencer in the travel and lifestyle space. The timing couldn’t be more perfect seeing as I have a couple trips coming up in the next few months. If anyone is looking for a contributed writer, or some free lance writing for blogs in this space, please contact me! email: courtney.reiko@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

ok- back to the good stuff. (images are hyperlinked and will lead you to each blog)

  1. Local Wanderer Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.31.07 AM.png
  2. Bridges and BalloonsScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.35.25 AM.png
  3. Alex in Wanderland Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.37.54 AM.png
  4. Haylsa and her beautiful IG feedScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.44.06 AM.png
  5. Free Candie – This woman completely inspires meScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 10.47.31 AM.png


June Mood Board

I’ve been feeling extra inspired this week and pulling together a mood board for this month. What is a mood board?

It’s this cool thing that I’ve seen a bunch of creative people do. Actual definition here:

(N) an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc., intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.

So for the month of June, I’ve decided to create a mood board that will keep me inspired and evoke concepts for any projects that I’ll be working on. Maybe a design project, or a cool outfit, or something that will help me with my writing. This will keep me in a creative head space, and hopefully you as well. Enjoy!

Oh, one more thing! If any of you follow my IG feed, you may know that my dearest friend Bayley recently came to visit me in the Bay. We got so inspired by each other, that we have a longer blog post turned essay in the works. Stay tuned for that.

I am also thinking of writing a blog post of the history of Coconuts in the Bay, because for those of you who don’t know, this blog started as a project in college that became a personal lifestyle blog co written by myself and Bayley. Hence, Coconuts in the Bay… get it? It’s evolved quite a bit since then, but thought I’d share a fun fact on it’s history. Is it worth the read? let me know!

Feel free to share your Mood Board, or anything that inspires you and comment below! 7454dccf9bd135eb1c6dd084e72d9a15.jpgf6bfe92c8094f4eefe0bfe3b352eaebf.jpg4792fd37e883fde71c52af38fc18c621.jpg













Glossier Morning Rituals & Traveling

This week’s Wednesday Inspo will inspire you to get through the week with a beautifying morning routine. Establishing a morning facial/beauty regimen can inspire you to wake up with a little extra pep in your step.

I came across some of the best GRWM v-logs and instantly made it a priority to establish best practices around my facial care and make up routine. Sometimes, I actually look forward to getting ready, especially when I refill some favorite products like my Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser.

Here a couple beauty routines currently inspiring me to get through the week:

  1. Cleansers- When I wake up, before I go to bed, and after every workout, I wash my face with Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser. The packaging is beautiful, it’s not harsh and doesn’t irritate my eyes. I also absolutely love the texture and how my skin feels. Perfect for dry skin because it’s so hydrating! Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.19.03 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.20.03 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.20.22 PM.png
  2. Skin Prep- After I cleanse, I always, always replenish my skin and prep my face for the day, even if I’m not applying any makeup. I use Glossier’s Super Pack kit  which is perfect for nipping blemishes in the bud, adding glow to my skin, and hydrating my extra dry spots. Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.24.59 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.25.12 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.25.21 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.25.04 PM.png
  3. Priming- I use Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer as my final skin prep even if I’m not applying makeup. Moving from Hawaii to the Bay Area has caused my skin to get increasingly dry through out the years, and I haven’t found a single product that could actually bring moisture back into my face without breaking me out until I came across Glossier. All of the products listed here have made my morning routine a breeze. Not to mention, my skin has drastically improved. Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.36.38 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-30 at 3.36.45 PM.png

I’ll stop the facial routine there because I have no interest in talking you through my “makeup routine.” For other inspiration, you can check out some of my fave YouTube’rs and their channels.


violette _fr

Emily Weiss


GRWM with Ashley Brooke

This is so relaxing and motivating. It makes me wish my workout studio was in my apartment complex. I also want her apartment. 🙂 Get up, and get after it!

For additional, inspiration, I’ll update ya’ll on the personal life. Coleman and I decided that we would take a quick trip this year in the US. We are still brainstorming a few places, but so far we are leaning towards activities in the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Top places thus far:

  1. Grand Canyon & various rims (have yet to decide which parts we will explore)
  2. Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
  3. Arizona Hot Springs
  4. Antelope Canyon
  5. Sedona and Red Rock Slide State Park

Have any of you Coconuts traveled to the Grand Canyon? Any tips and must sees? Any other places/cities in mind that we should travel to? I’m all ears! Leave a comment below.


Hometown Glory

Every now and I again I find myself in a mid-week shlump. Climbing that Wednesday hurdle can be a bit difficult, so I’m starting a weekly blog post called “Wednesday Inspos” so I can share with you coconuts my favorite things that get me through my week. This week, I can’t stop thinking about my hometown, Honolulu, HI. I will be heading home for a quick visit in July, which is right around the corner, and every time I list out all of my favorite things in O’ahu, I smile. If you’re a Hawaii local, and you’re reading this, you’ll smile too.

Stay tuned for more Wednesday Inspos coming your way. Until then, Aloha and Happy Wednesday!

  1. Mokes The-Mokes-White-Sandy-Beach-Lanikai-Oahu-vacation-rental.jpg
  2. and Mokes… (you’ll only get it if you’re local, and I won’t explain it because if you don’t get it, then you never will) maxresdefault.jpg
  3. The sounds of the Ocean tumblr_o7lthcx8761s7syh1o1_540
  4. How everyone you know back home becomes Aunty and Uncle even if you’re not related
  5. The Meyers ohana.jpg
  6. DuckButt and Bar Divesduckbutt.jpg
  7. Helena’s- a whole in the wall with bomb Hawaiian foodhelena-s-hawaiian-food.jpg
  8. Kalihi Street
  9. Long’s Drugs Rubbah Slippahs 61QlMURnloL._UL1200_.jpg
  10. Rainbows like no other, on almost a daily basis HAWAII0915-GettyImages-128421863.jpg
  11. Collecting shells in tide poolsMakapuu tidepools 052.jpg
  12. The Aloha vibe3139752014f6f39cd36c32a49eb9977b--rainbow-connection-surfs.jpg
  13. This place and these people FITTED-HAWAII_top.jpg
  14. Malasadas Leonards2-1-767x1024

Design Inspo: The Gallery Wall

Currently planning out the layout and design of my DIY “Gallery Wall” for my project this weekend, which according to Coleman, has been a pending project for about 6 months now… hah! Finally about to conquer this fun task.

I’m pulling out some inspiration here, and researching which art pieces I’d like to use, which photos I would want to print, types of frames and where to buy them etc.. you know, all that jazz.  I’ll walk everyone through my process this weekend, but until then, here is a post for inspiration. There are three things I’ve officially decided on: 1. I’m going with skinny frames, and they will likely be white, black, or brass and gold. 2. I am using white matte paper to mat my photos. 3. I will hang up some of my own original artwork.

This gallery wall passion project may be turning into a complete redesign of my living room! There are so many cool antiques and thrifts in San Jose, so I’m excited with what I’ll find on Saturday.

Everything in this photo is amazing. The woman, her style, the living room, the library of a book shelf, the rug, and this epic, artsy gallery wall. This is the star inspiration for my passion project this weekend.
This is a second favorite. I think I love ever piece of art, and the layout. I love a bright white wall as a clean slate for a project of this sort.


Monochromatic, minimalist and modern, grid like pattern.


simplistic and effortless
When modern meets rustic


Although I’m not the biggest fan of “themed” gallery walls, or rooms, I like the artwork and lay out here. I personally, love a more eclectic and random feel when it comes to gallery walls. It makes the room feel that much more treasured and “lived in.”


Perfecto! everything- brick wall, skinny frames, wooden accents…just perfect.
I want to find the true source of this gem. It looks inspired by Studio McGee.

What’s your favorite?