Meet Raina Wessen

 Let me start by saying, I LOVE Raina Wessen! She is one of the funniest, most genuine and coolest person I've ever met. I used to smile when I thought of Raina before I even met her. 

After baseball, Adam made the decision to return to University of California Riverside to finish off his last year as a business major. During which he took a media art class where he met Ra-Ra Raina Wessen. She was the girl in class that made everyone laugh, with an outspoken personality, her energy and humor were contagious. After class, Adam used to come home and tell me all about Raina. I would ask him what funny thing she did or said that day because it used to make me laugh. Weird? Maybe, but I just had a good feeling about her, I get "feelings a lot". Side note, as you all will get to know me further, you'll learn intuitions (gut feelings) rule my world. Anyhow, It's wild how many people we meet on a day to day basis, and so many times we let them slip away without realizing those people could have fit right into our lives. Knowing this, we knew that Raina Wessen would be our photographer for Leoni and a lifelong friend. That is of course, just until she ventures off into the world to take breathtaking photos of landscapes and wildlife, which we are excited to see. 

This girl majored in art and recently graduated from UCR, not only is she an incredible person, but also incredibly talented. I conducted an interview with Raina where she tells us about her adventurous around-the-world travel plans, also I dug deeper to find out what drives her, how it all began, and where she sees her career going. 


When did you know you wanted to be a photographer for a living?

I would say at some point during my junior or senior year in high school. I had to start thinking about which colleges to apply to and what I wanted to do as a career. My dad wanted me to do something more practical, or perhaps more financially stable; his twin brother Robbii Wessen is an artist, so he's witnessed firsthand the inconsistent lifestyle that frequently accompanies that kind of career. However my mom used to take photos in high school for her newspaper, so she understood my passion for it. On top of which, her brother had actually started a job with the LA County Sheriff Department as a crime scene photographer. 

For the most part I figured that I would stumble around doing odd jobs but still take pictures. But hopefully, someday, I will be paid to travel the world taking photos of only the most beautiful landscapes and wildlife.

Where will you be traveling?

I want to travel anywhere and everywhere. This varies from your typical vacation spots like Hawaii or Great Britain but also more outlandish travel spots such as Croatia or the Galapagos. I'm excited to meet new people and collect new experiences that travel will undoubtedly afford me, and not just for the great shots. I would love to be old and wrinkly showing my photos to everyone, but also have great stories to accompany them. 


Places you have already visited?

I haven't been too many places (yet), but I'd like to think I've done a decent amount of travel for a 23 year old.

In the US I've been to...
  • Washington
  • California (Born and raised)
  • Idaho
  • Montana
  • Wyoming (Lived here for a bit and LOVED IT)
  • Tennessee
  • Pennsylvania 
  • New York
  • Virginia 
  • And of course Alaska (Top 3 by far places to go)
Outside of the US I've been to...
  • Costa Rica (San José, Toruguero, and Arenal)
  • Italy (Rome and Florence)
  • Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, and Canberra)

Plans for the future?

I'm currently planning a large, round the world trip with my girlfriends. One of the girls and myself will be starting in Bangkok, slowly making our way south through Thailand. We'll then jump over to Jakarta, Indonesia, and bus ride over to Bali. After our five weeks are up in Southeast Asia, we'll be flying over to Frankfurt, Germany and meeting up with our other girlfriend. We'll be doing the typical backpacking through Europe, from the UK down to Spain, and everything in between. That plan is much more open-ended and loose. We just want to go wherever we want without any time constraints.

The very end of the trip it will just be me and the first girlfriend traveling through South America. We'll be starting in Argentina and Chile, then make our way north through Peru, Ecuador, and ending in Brazil. We couldn't be more excited!

What does photography personally mean to you?

Photography means so much to so many people, on top of it having multiple meanings to one person. For me photography is a bit of an escape. I'm never grumpy or bitter when I'm taking photos; I usually appear calm and serene, or I'm smiling from the fun of it all. Photography is also the best way for me to express myself and provide other people with my own perspective (literally) of the world around me. I can take a friend and go to a pretty lake spot, but she and I will see it in completely different ways. I like to take pictures not only to evoke a feeling or atmosphere, but to capture something that represents me in some way. 

Favorite photo moment?

Why does there only have to be one? Aghhh! I think my favorite photo moment isn't one time I was shooting, but the general feeling I get with some shoots. I love going out with a buddy, shooting our little hearts away, and then on the drive back laughing and having a good time. This is all while thinking you are probably empty-handed, then going to the computer only to find some hidden gems on your SD. That's one of my favorite moments.

What would your advice for Raina 5 years ago be, when you were just starting?

Never shut any doors. You never know the connections or opportunities that life will present you with, and not just in terms of your career. Some of my best memories or gigs that I've gotten are simply from putting myself out there and saying yes. And I will continue to live this route, since I've already accomplished and seen so many amazing things as a result.

There you have her folks, Raina Wessen. Make sure to check her out on Instagram @rainawessenphotography and to follow along with Rain's around the world travels head on over to her website Click Here

Also to see some of her uncle Robbii's fine art work Click Here