Renee Akana is a  formally trained photographer and painter from Los Angeles, California, currently located in Central New York. Renee lived in Los Angeles for 45 years and while she may miss the urban experience, she has enjoyed living in the country. 

As a painter, Renee relied on inner vision which translated to canvas.  Her painting style focussed on juxtaposition and surrealism.

"The first time I painted a surrealistic picture, I remember being up until four in the morning, slapping my brush against the canvas in what seemed to be a lost cause. I was ready to gesso over everything and start over, but when I looked at what came out of me, I was, at first, a little taken back. Then,I went with it. Photography provides a connection with the outer world. For the longest time, I was totally left-brained, working in the technical issues of camera and software.  Once I felt a stronger connection to digital tools, I decided to move away from typical photography and move into digital art, staying true to the style I had in painting. I absolutely love clean photography, but I am currently in my element." 

Commercially, Renee has worked as an architectural and real estate photographer. An extensive background in portrait and event photography has helped her understand lighting, proportion, distortion and documentation.  She continues to work in portraiture and performing arts photography.  Her fine art background in painting gives her a basis for content and composition. In her youth, she worked for the architectural firm, R. Duell & Associates in Santa Monica, California. Randal Duell came out of MGM Studios and designed most of the major amusement parks in the world. She was married to and involved with the work of a real estate development consultant who worked on major international projects. Her in-laws managed Ansel Adams' career. Six degrees of separation and lots of creative stimulation have been a fortunate aspect of her life.

Photograph by Robert Crum

Shows, Events & Awards:

  • 2015 (March) Featured Photographer, New Landscape Photography
  • 2013 MOPLA Pin Up Show, Robert Berman Gallery, Bergamont Station, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2011 & 2012 International Photography Awards

           * IPA 2011 - Honorable Mention - Editorial : Environmental Category
           * IPA 2011 - Honorable Mention - People : Lifestyle Category
           * IPA 2012 - Honorable Mention - Special : Digitally Enhanced Category
           * IPA 2012 - Honorable Mention - Fine Art : Other_FA Category

  • 2012 Pico Artist Coalition 
  • 2010 / 2009  5x7 shows, Blue 7 Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2009 Water Show, Santa Monica College Exhibit, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2008 Exhibit for Pico Blvd / Pico Improvement Organization, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2008 National Geographic Bioblitz, Santa Monica Mountains, CA, contributing photographer
  • 2008 Sierra Club auction contributor


  • Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California
  • Private mentoring with a professional photographer since 2007