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.

Behind-The-Scenes of a Maternity Shoot

I love Maternity Shoots because I get to capture the magic that is creating a little human!  There is also fun in documenting the soon-to-parents and their excitement about what is to come.  Here is more insight into how I handle these specialized sessions…


Photographing pregnant women is unlike my usual Family Shoots where I am chasing after little kids and being more of a “fly on the wall”.

First, I turn into a big sister (I can’t help it!) and will ask her repeatedly if she is feeling okay to walk up a staircase or if she needs to sit down.  Then, I am more intentional with my shooting angles because I want to show off the baby bump.  So typically, that’d be directly from the side or from the top.  If I’m feeling adventurous, I may shoot from below for an upward view of the belly.

The type of light I look for is backlight that creates a golden outline around the belly, which emphasizes the beauty of pregnancy.  I also like even light (like shooting in an open shade) for portraits of my pregnant mama because that is flattering on the skin.  I’ll avoid harsh shadows at all costs.

In a Maternity Shoot, I have more luxury to craft the images I want to create.  ❤️

Check out these BTS (behind-the-scenes) images to see what I mean.  Thank you to Christine’s husband, Kevin, who took these photos during the shoot.

Behind-the-Scenes #1:

I chose this area because it was a quiet spot at a popular park.  There were tall trees that intercepted the bright sun, which softened the light.  I had Christine stop in the brighter spot on the path for a side profile shot of this gorgeous mama-to-be.


What I shot:


I took most of this series in color to show the golden sunlight.

East-Bay-lifestyle-maternity-photography-pregnant-woman-twirling  East-Bay-lifestyle-maternity-photography-woman-holding-baby-bump-full-length-view

Behind-the-Scenes #2:

Kevin probably thought I was cray-cray when I was leaning over Christine from behind.  If you were there, you’d hear me say:  “I promise I’m not taking a photo down your wife’s dress!”  It was pretty funny.

There is definitely an element of trust that needs to exist when you’re on a photoshoot, especially for Weddings, Maternity Shoots, Newborn Shoots… and Lifestyle Shoots in someone’s home.  Okay, so that’s most every kind of photoshoot!  You also need chemistry between the photographer and subjects, which I talk about here.


What I shot:

Baby bumps are unique to each woman and each pregnancy, so I like to capture the shape of the belly from different angles.

A side view would show how round it is, while a top-down view would show if the bump is narrow or wide.


If you want to learn more, you can select Photography Tips under the Blog menu or click here.  Don’t forget to say hello!  I read every comment.  xo annie

Most Delicious Light of 2017

Here is Part 2 of the Favorite Images results!


Photos considered in The Most Delicious Light category were images where light played a significant role in the overall image (i.e., if the light was different, the quality, mood, or story of the image would change).


Diagonal shadows and light at bath time

[FYI:  This image isn't originally cropped this way; I cropped it more at the bottom out of respect and child safety.]


The parting fog under the bridge



Fantasy-like glow on the beach



Brown reflected light from the forest floor



Pure white light
[Commercial Photography]



Light from above



Sun after weeks of rain lit up the moss on the trees


Tied for #8

Morning fog rolling across the lake


Sun-kissed tree swing



perfect storm of sunlight:  reflected light on the family, sun streaming through the trees to light up the background, and a ray of light as backlight!


Click here if you want to see last year’s Favorite Images.  Don’t forget Favorites of 2015 too!
Are you still reading this?  Ooh la la… okay, here is one more:  Favorite Images of 2014:)

Best Moments of 2017

Each year’s Favorite Images results are always surprising to me.  This year, we had the most ties.  It was also a year that had the most Commercial Photography images selected.  The list is long, so I am splitting it up into two parts.  Here is part 1:  results of the Best Moments of 2017!


A “moment” can be a split second in time, or it can be a moment that tells a story — whether sweet, emotional or humorous.  Some images could fall into both categories of “moment” and “light”, so the decision was based on the weight each factor had on the individual image.

Tied for #1 

Pink Unicorns


Music Class
[Commercial Photography]


Tied for #2

Parental Guidance


Sibling Affection


Tied for #3

Dudes Dancing


Love and Laughter
[Engagement Shoot]


Tied for #4



Biggest Smile


Tied for #5

Educators Do More Than Teach
[Commercial Photography]


Golden Color Cast (from a blade of dry grass that blew in the wind)



Friendship and Support
[Commercial Photography]