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inside real studios: rialee photography

inside real studios: rialee photography

Ria Czichotzki of Rialee Photography is an exclusive children's photographer based in Fargo Moorhead, where she lives with her husband and four children. She began her journey in the photography field by capturing the "everyday” moments of her children's lives through the lens of her camera. With her natural, artistic style and a combined passion for children and photography, she has been able to turn her hobby into a very successful career. Being in the child care profession for several years has given Ria a unique ability to connect with children of all ages and an amazing amount of patience.
When Ria started her business in 2007, she was working out of her home, scheduling shoots on weekends or evenings. Demand was high for her style of photography as it was new to the area, and before long she was scrambling to fit everything in. Learning and performing editing during naptime, evenings and weekends was severely impacting family time, so it didn't take long before thoughts of a studio entered her mind. Separating work life from home life was becoming a high priority due to an overwhelming feeling of not being available for her family.
The search was on for the perfect space, and she found it, thanks to a tip from a client. While killing time between sessions, Ria took a recommended stroll around the building. “I went up to the second floor, walked down a long hallway, and looked in the very last door. It was magical. It was almost like I could hear bells ringing or music playing or something! The floor was uneven, broken concrete. The walls were practically falling in and it was dirty beyond belief, but all I could see was the killer light from the huge windows and the potential for what this space could be.” It was a huge commitment and undertaking, but being a “go big or go home gal,” she signed a five-year lease and went to work designing her studio loft space. Combining her passion and skill for interior design with the blank slate of the studio, she set to work designing the floor plan and choosing flooring, lighting and cabinetry elements. “This part was so much fun for me! The landlord paid for the entire fit-up as part of my renting the space. I also had such a good time searching for all of the furnishings, as I love to shop, plan and design. My studio is a mix of modern, industrial and whimsical.
 
The 1100 square foot studio is comprised of two main areas: the office/workroom space (about one third of the square footage) and the guest area/gallery/studio space. The guest area is used to welcome her clients and provides an area for Ria and the children to get to know one another, in addition to discussing clothing and the focus of the session with parents. As the studio is a second floor loft, rialee photography has no street traffic. Because Ria is on an appointment only basis, this lack of interruptions stemming from walk-ins and curious passers by is a blessing. She also likes the feeling of being a little hidden, mysterious and exclusive. The building she inhabits has commercial space on the ground floor with gorgeous million dollar loft condos on the third floor. 
Rialee Photography delivers what clients are seeking: the cutting edge, cool style that is hot, mirroring what trendy catalogs are now embracing. Marrying her love for design and the clean, sleek lines of modern-meets-retro, Ria's digs are at once striking and streamlined. She finds her furnishings and items everywhere, from old, refurbished pieces at antique stores, to the mix of more modern Ikea and Room and Board type furnishings. The small child chairs are very modern and retro-ish. “Then I'll have an old, industrial milk crate. So it's a mix of industrial old and modern.” Making use of online shopping, she is always looking for the perfect fit for her gorgeous space. 
One decision Ria made was to decorate her walls with canvases of all sizes. “I chose to do that because when people see them, they want them, and you can't beat how great a canvas looks on the wall.” This is of critical importance in relaying the idea that these images are not simply photographs they are works of art and a canvas simply extends that vision. “I don't have anything on display that isn't a standout or a canvas because that is what I want people to purchase.”
Just off of the shooting area is a prop closet full of treasures. According to Ria, she has an addiction to buying baby items, and keeping this closet stocked for infants to toddlers is a joy. “Forever and ever, I have always loved the baby aisle. When I was little and we went to the local dime store, my friends were in the candy aisle picking out chocolate, and I was back in the baby section looking at diapers and bottles.” With her children older and no babies to buy for, she gets her ”˜fix' of baby hats, toys and clothing by stocking her prop closet. 
Partnering with a local baby boutique for some of the ample clothing supply she keeps at the ready, Ria loves the a mix of trendy duds she can provide for shoots. Pea coats garnered from ebay are must-haves, since so many kids never wear them but once or twice before outgrowing them. She gets scrumptious hats from Etsy and claims to have upwards of 50 hats for her young clients to model. Parents love the looks Ria pulls together from her closet. While a lot of people don't realize everything doesn't have to be perfectly matching to be adorable, the props and clothing area is a microcosm, showing how so many different elements in her studio pull together for a fun and vibrant slice of rialee life.
When designing the studio, Ria spent time figuring out what she would need and designed the shelves accordingly. Ribbons, boxes, bags, tissue, envelopes, and completed orders all have a designated place. From pens to a pail cleverly housing implements, chartreuse is a prominent eye popping color demanding its rightful place with busy Ria, and it works. A favorite of hers well before it become a trendy color choice, this bright shade of green is a delicious component of her studio space and her stylish brand.
Ria's studio, with professional, hip stylings one would expect to grace Better Homes and Gardens magazine, makes it at once obvious that she is able to find beautiful balance and symmetry in all things, from the gorgeous visual combination of color and composition in her work space, to the trio of green grassy tufts resting under a quintet of stunning black and white canvasses. Whether moving from color to lack thereof or melding retro with modern, careful consideration is placed into every aspect of her high end studio.
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