My Photography Bio

Howdy!  These are some common questions people ask me, so I thought I’d write them down and share my answers with everyone.

Hopefully you’ll know me a little better after reading this.

venecia-a-taking-photo_bg

How did you get started in photography?

I have been interested in photography since I was a young child, about eight years old.

I got my first SLR camera (a Nikon, no doubt) in 1991.  Back then, they were all film cameras, not digital.  I took a BxW Photography class at UC Berkeley (where I was attending College) to learn how to develop film and enlarge photos.  That’s when my passion for photography started.

Since then, I’ve taken my cameras wherever I go, all over the World.

I’ve once gone trekking in a remote region North of Chiangmai in Thailand.  We hiked from dawn to dusk for several days, going up and down mountains, all on unpaved ground.  We had to carry all of our belongings as well as our own water in the 100+ degree humid weather!  At night, we would camp on the floor of tribal villages.  It was an amazing adventure, but the trek was very difficult and sometimes treacherous.  If you carried too much weight, you would fatigue quicker and also risk slipping when climbing.  So I carried one backpack with only one set of clothes (let’s just say we all needed a shower BADLY after just the first day), my glasses, and toothbrush and paste.  I limited myself to only 2 large water bottles a day.

One bottle was in my backpack and I carried one by hand!  My other hand was holding my heavy Nikon camera, which was bruising my chest when it hung unsecured around my neck.  (Other people carried 4 bottles – 2 in their backpack and 1 in each hand.)  I sacrificed hydration for taking pictures!  Taking my camera was imperative to me.

It’s funny when I think back on this trip.  I remember feeling lightheaded often and seeing halos from being severely dehydrated, but not once did I regret bringing my camera.

This may sound like an extreme story, but I did that sort of thing all the time because photography is so important to me.  If I couldn’t bring my camera somewhere, I’d rather not go.

In Limon, Costa Rica… (taken with film)

costa-rica_bg

In Cinque Terre, Italy… (taken with film)

girl-bored-with-3-boys_bg

On the back of a boat in the Galapagos Islands, gutting a fish to eat for dinner… (taken with film)

galapagos_bg

On a trek in Northern Thailand, as described above… (taken with film)  (Note:  I was probably about to faint when taking this photograph!)

thailandtrek_bg

So when did you make it a business?

It started with my friends and family asking me to do photoshoots for them – whether it was for engagement photos or portraits.  This started soon after College, which was in the early ‘90s.  (Yes, I’m dating myself!)

It led to people commissioning me or asking for photos in place of wedding gifts.  So it was a fairly natural transition for me to start my own business, especially since it was the electronic era once I began.  Creating my online portfolio on my website was the first step.  Then pow – my business was born.

dsc_7270bg

Do you have a background in photography or are you self-taught?

Definitely self-taught.

I haven’t had formal training.  I took one photography class on developing BxW film and printing enlargements back in college.  Then in 2009, I won an award — the Heidi Mauracher Scholarship from Professional Photographers of California (PPC) in which I got to take a Lighting class with Andre Costantini through the West Coast School of Professional Photography.

What has made the biggest impact on my photography is that I’ve always had a love, talent, and respect for Art.  I have been painting and sketching my whole life… since I could hold a pencil.  My first job was for a famous artist in Lexington, MA when I was 15 years old.  When I was 18, I won awards for some of my watercolors and had paintings displayed in a Boston gallery.

My favorite Art mediums, other than Photography, are watercolor and oil painting.

I think it is from my experience in Fine Art that my photographs have a different perspective.

dsc_7289bg

How does having a background in Fine Art influence the way you photograph?
I think having an artist’s perspective on photography allows me to see images as images of emotion, images of beauty (like recognizing patterns), and images of light.

I’d say my strengths are composition and playing with light to make an image interesting.  I think that’s why my photographs have a distinct style.  They’re not your traditional “portraits”.

For client photoshoots, I make sure to have some traditional portraits in the mix because I think we all should have some, but my style is a little more raw and natural.

My favorite photos usually have interesting shapes, play with light, show a varied perspective, or capture an emotion.  Having an art background makes this second nature for me.

dsc_3417bg dsc_4668

So what is your background in?

Marketing.  I was a Psychology major at UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) with the purpose of going into Advertising and Marketing by understanding the minds of consumers.  So that’s what I did for about 10 years.  My last corporate job was a Category Manager at Frito-Lay.

All the while, I had a love for children, so for pretty much my entire adult life, I worked with children in my spare time through volunteer work, like the Big Sisters of Los Angeles and the Child Development Program at UCLA’s Medical Center.

Eventually, I quit the Corporate World and went into teaching underprivileged children in San Francisco.  And of course, I was taking photos all along the way.  :)

dsc_6996bg dsc_7008bg

What kind of photography most interests you?

Children!  I looooooove children of all ages – from babies to teens.  Children aren’t jaded by society yet and wear their heart on their sleeve, so you can see right into their soul through their eyes.  Only from photos of children can one look make me tear up or smile.

I also love photographing things that have interesting patterns and light.

And I love challenging myself with what I paint or photograph.  With painting, I may choose something I haven’t painted yet or paint in a new style.  With photography, I may choose an area that is not considered attractive by most, like a construction site.  Once I went to the back of a warehouse and found “beauty” underneath a truck and in the run-off of rain water.

dsc_9550bg

dsc_6282

What is the most rewarding part of your business?

I enjoy meeting new people (I’ve had the coolest clients!) and going through my photos right after I return home from a photoshoot.  But the most rewarding part is giving the clients their photos and hearing their reaction!

I do what I do because I love doing it!  But this moment reminds me that my photography can impact other people’s lives.  Because of me, they now have beautiful reminders of a point in time – their son’s quirky personality, their baby’s love of her blankie, or a feeling they had.  It warms my heart to touch people’s lives with my artwork.

It’s like the old adage:  I am happy when my client is happy.

dsc_8901bg


Leave a comment on Facebook!

25 Comments

  1. Nice work Annie. You did it again. The first shots really captured my little man. This next round made my daughter feel like a princess and captured a moment between by children. Many thanks – a real photographer’s eye. David

  2. Hello, I was just wondering what equipment you have, I use a Nikon D60 with a 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses.

  3. Joshua

    So funny reading your story trekking with a camera.

    My co-workers planned to hike Mt. Whitney in August and I wasn’t interested to go along at all. ‘Till one time I went to one of the practice hikes with them and I brought my dslr. Since then I’ve been going to practice hikes with them so that I could take pictures! And I’m gonna go hike Mt. Whitney with them because I just have to capture that memorable momments with my camera.

    Good shots you have! Good job!

  4. Carol Thomas

    Annie: Thanks for sharing your pictures and life story. I am really inspired by your accomplishments. I have been in the corporate (healthcare) world for 25 years and would love to transition into photography. I am self-taught but have been told by many people that I have a good “eye” for photography. I hope someday that I might follow in your footsteps. Thanks again.

    Carol Thomas

  5. Annie, enjoyed your web site, you have a great talent of taking pictures. Really like your work, pictures have a lot of life. Have a great day….. Mr Jeff

  6. Annie

    Thanks for all the love, everyone! I am flattered.

    And Carol, I am touched that I have inspired you. I believe whole-heartedly that we should all do what we love, though I know not everyone is fortunate enough to make that choice, usually for financial reasons. For me, I needed a life-changing event to push me to look inward and change career paths. I encourage as many people as possible to figure out what drives them and brings them joy NOW — and not wait til something life-altering happens.

    Annie

  7. Phen

    I couln’t stop once I started reading, the pictures are very nice.

  8. Hi… Just trying to make friends with professional people like you, I just got this camera (Canon EOS Rebel XSi – with 18-55 and 55-250 lens)… I never in my life had a camera before… so now I’m shooting with a question mark on my brain everytime… thanks to internet there is a lot of info to read. About your pics.. wow… you really have the ability to capture the light.

    Gustavo – New Jersey

  9. Hi Annie, I’m recently a photo-addic and I am trying to put myself out there to hopefully become a professional someday. I really enjoy your blog and I really enjoyed reading your bio of how you got started. Thanks for the inspirational comments! Anna- ARH Photography; Nashville, TN

  10. Priscilla Hung

    Annie, looking at your work and the impact you’ve made make me want to pick up my camera again – as a hobbie, of course. Are you looking for an apprentice or a helping hand?

  11. Hi Annie, I stumbled upon your blog and later your website by accident and was happy that I found someone that shares a great deal in common with me:
    - Love traveling, especially to developing countries.
    - Spent time in corporate America. Left and pursue what makes me feel good – teaching, photography and any other things that can have an impact on other people’s lives.
    - The love of art and photography.
    - The pursuit of happiness in what we do.

    I’m sure that’s more…

    Please visit my travel blog when you have time. And would love to connect with you the next time I’m in NorCal (Did I mention that I love making friends?).

    Loved your photos,

    Jean

  12. Hi.I am genuinely interested in the.Where can I learn other stuff about this? Some advice?

  13. Realistic Oil Painting – Free Shipping – Free Frame Of Your Choice !

  14. I must say, I absolutely love this site. Maybe you could let me know how I can subscribing with it? By the way I found this site through Aol.

  15. Thank you, Traveling Nurse! You can subscribe to my RSS feed at the top of my Home page (of this blog site). In my intro area at the top, click on “subscribe to my blog”. Thanks for reading!

    ~ Annie

  16. I am a UC Berkeley Bear as well. great photos. you’re one of the few people I know in life that appear to be loving life!

  17. Good Morning , I just stopped by to visit your website and thought I’d say I enjoyed myself .

  18. Hi, just wandered by. I have a Nikon website. Can’t believe the amount of information out there. Looking for something else, but cool site. Cya later.

  19. em thich chi

  20. We Should learn bout this from you. Lupe Fuentes

  21. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.

  22. Ricky

    Hi miss Tao,
    Joined ur blog few days back. m in love wid ur kindda attitude n photography. would definately like to learn smthng from you.
    I am a beginner in this field, i own a NikonD3000, could you please help in learning more like you.
    Thnx

    Ricky-India.

  23. Annie, your AWESOME! and love your work~

  24. I have wanted to post about something like this on one of my blogs and you have given me an idea. Thanks.

  25. I happen to come across an interview with you on Kodak Galleries from the monthly newsletters I receive via email, which led me to your site and reading about your background. I have had a love for photography all my life and I too simply took a black and white class, learning how to develop film as my very first course…but instead of going forward with photography as a career I made a decision to go into child psychology and later teaching, leaving me now at a job where I work as an office supervisor…

    I started my photography business a few years ago and am working towards building it as we speak on the side of a full time job. Reading your background, your story, is really inspiring :) I really enjoyed looking through your work and I will continue to follow your work through Facebook and your blog.

    Than you for sharing…
    Irena