Hello there!

My name is Annie Tao. I am a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in lifestyle photography where you get to play, hang out, and be yourself. I capture the moments, real emotions and stories that occur during our time together. Check here often or subscribe to my blog (RSS feed) to see what I am up to or get creative inspiration. Thanks for visiting!

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The Buzz

My Philosophy

I scoured through thousands of my client photos and pondered my philosophy on photographing people.  What I realized was that my philosophy was incredibly simple.

Looking at all these gorgeous faces and families, my heart melts a little.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.   ~annie

Want to see more?  Yippeee… here’s a video on why you should choose Lifestyle Photography.

When I Grow Up

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I remember crying in Kindergarten when my teacher insisted that each student announce what they wanted to be when they grew up.

I was a shy child whose parents split up when I was three and we moved around a lot, so talking in front of a group was far from being ‘fun’.  (By the end of Elementary School, I couldn’t stop talking, so there was a weird life symmetry there!  ha!)  Anyhow, I remember thinking to myself, “How would I know what I want to be?!!  I am only five!”

The result of the silence and all eyes on me:  tears.

Fast forward to 6th grade.

It was a similar situation, but this time, the teacher asked us to think about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  This time, I did.  I put a lot of thought into it.  I had friends who named the profession of their mother or father.  Some wanted to be what they considered a ‘hero job’:  a doctor, a firefighter.  For me, I had always loved Art.  Always.  Yet, I thought being an Artist meant standing on a sidewalk with my paintings and hoping to sell something, so I could have money to eat!  Thus, Art was never something I considered as a plausible career.

Instead, I came up with two things.  I was 11 years old, and I knew I wanted to be…

A mother.


I’ve always loved kids and thought the coolest thing in the entire World would be to be a mom.  To have kids.  To hold babies.  To love them unconditionally.  To teach them skills and help shape them to be confident and good people.

And happy.  I didn’t know what job I wanted.  I didn’t think about income, industry, or position.  I didn’t care about the details.  I just knew that whatever my career would be, I needed to be happy.


So going full circle here, I am now a business owner of something I am passionate about:  creating art.  I am also a mother of little humans who test my patience sometimes (haha), but they make me grow and learn and teach.  They make me want to always see the World as a silver lining, to find good in people.  I can humbly say that I am happier with them in my World.

Thank you — yes, YOU — for sharing in my journey!

Now why on Earth am I thinking about all this?

Well, my littlest monkey just turned 6 years old.  (These photos are from her 6 year old photoshoot.)  She is in Kindergarten, and I remembered how I was asked that question when I was her age.  Unlike me, however, Avie knows what she wants to be when she grows up.  A singer.  Well, not any ordinary singer.  A Singing Baker.  So in a few years, if you hear about a bakery that just opened up where the baker sings, you’ll know it’s my child!  :)

When I grow up (hey, I’m still growing!), I want to be where I am now.  But just older.




Why Photography Matters in Business

With the prevalence of internet usage and infusion of social media in our daily life, consumers have become more visual now than ever.

Not only do they count on a website or app to look appealing, they also are more inclined to notice — and judge — if an image is an authentic one or one that is a stock photo.  Does the image provoke a feeling?  Does the image look real?  Is it believable?  These are the questions that consumers answer subconsciously.  Unintentionally.  This is what happens now with visually-savvy consumers.

A content-heavy landing page is no longer desirable.  What is enviable are sites with eye-catching images that make the viewer feel something.  A connection.  A feeling.  A desire to buy it, to attend it, to be a part of it.  Whatever the business is, the images can make a consumer intrigued.  It is then up to the total content of the pages to seal the deal with whatever the business is selling.  Without the compelling images and a buttoned-up marketing strategy, consumers will exit the site.

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression.

So if you’re a business owner or you manage a business, take a look at your website and ask yourself, “What does my home page say about my business?”  “Does it command my attention?”  “Does it look modern and exciting, or boring and dated”?

As an example, I’ve attached print screens of Rice Business School‘s Before and After home page and program page.  This was a recent Commercial Photography project I worked on, and I am very proud to be a part of it.  I think you’ll agree that the Before and After are like night and day.





These are a few of the rotating images…









Websites have been vital for businesses for eons, but with each year, I believe that Commercial Photography has increased in its importance.  What do you think?  Can you have a great business without a strong web presence and imagery?

My Candy Store

Quiet moments, laugh-out-loud moments, sweet tender moments, serious moments.  Having all of these things and beautiful sunlight in one Lifestyle Shoot is my “candy store”!  I am gasping in delight at the plethora of emotions and stories that unfolded that morning.  Take, for instance, this first photo below of the dad walking with his youngest daughter.  That was my first frame.  My very first shot.  When a shoot starts like this, it’s just…WOW.

There is no magic pill or fancy formula.  My advice to you, if you have a photoshoot coming up, is…

Relax.  Be yourself.  Have fun.  Don’t have an agenda.  Let your kids be kids.

Now come check out my “candy store” of moments from this past weekend!



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