One of a Kind

No two shoots are the same.  Whether I am photographing the same family multiple times or a different family in the same location, every shoot is one of a kind.

Just like the families who are unique in their relationships, interests, goals, achievements and struggles… their photoshoot images should represent their uniqueness too.  That’s why I will always shoot in this style of portraiture.

Lifestyle Photography has always been my favorite.

Take Dai’s shoot this weekend, as an example.  This was their first professional shoot ever!  And it was my Nth time shooting at this location, but it was the first time I had a fairy princess cast spells there, the first time I found currants growing on vines, and the first time I had a little fella with suspenders eating benches and plugging daddy’s ear — tee hee!

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Say Nothing

I admit it.  I like to talk, especially when it is about topics I am passionate about — like art and photography, marketing, color and light, friends, meaning of life, parenting, life lessons, my family, my puppy.  But sometimes, I find it healthy to step back and say nothing.  (I can see my husband slowly shaking his head right now.  haha)

I met this boy, Henry, last weekend.  I have sooooooo much to say about him and his parents….how they interact with each other, what they did at their shoot, their relationship.

Instead, I’ll let the images tell their story.  ❤️

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Behind-The-Scenes: Jalin

It’s time to take a peek behind-the-scenes (BTS) of one of my shoots!

Here’s some background:

Jalin loves the city, so she knew she wanted to have the shoot in the city.  We started at the crack of dawn.  Nah, I’m kidding.  It was dark though because of the fog that is typical of San Francisco mornings.  The air was brisk because the fog that sat over the city completely blocked the morning sun.  I came in full Winter gear.  My childhood friends from Massachusetts would shake their heads if they saw me in my thick scarf and jacket with thumb holes because it was in the 50s.  :)

Behind-the-Scenes #1

We started at this restaurant that hadn’t opened yet.  I liked the outside of the building, so we walked around to find a good spot, and then…

I spotted the fog rolling under the bridge.  Knowing that the light changes every minute, I threw out the wall idea and had Jalin sit with her coffee.  There wasn’t much time to reorganize the tables and chairs; we only had time to wipe her chair from the morning dew and pull a couple chairs out of the way.  The disarray of the rest of the furniture ended up being a representation of life, and her stillness in the chaos was symbolic, so we loved it.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 320, f/2.5, 1/8000 sec, morning sun, dense fog]

Behind-the-Scenes #2

The light was so cool because it was early enough that the sun was low in the sky, thereby providing a glow on one side of Jalin’s face; meanwhile, the fog acted as a diffuser, so the sunlight came in soft.

Once I captured the environmental shots (Jalin with the bridge and fog), I moved up to get some close-up shots of this beautiful High School Senior.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 3320, f/2.2, 1/4000 sec]

Behind-the-Scenes #3

We walked over to one of the piers.  There were locals fishing at the end, the fog was clearing, and it was starting to get really bright.  Bright sun means shadows and higher contrast images, which isn’t ideal for portraits.  However, I love the lines on piers, and we wanted to shoot the cityscape.

To make it work, I used a reflector to brighten the shadow on Jalin’s face.  I also shot into the sun.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/6400 sec, bright full sun on the right of subject, reflector]

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[Specs:  ISO 250, f/1.4, 1/8000 sec, bright full sun behind subject, intentionally 'blew out' the image to soften the shadows]

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[Specs:  ISO 250, f/1.8, 1/8000 sec, full bright sun to subject's left, embraced the contrast!]

Behind-the-Scenes #4

Doopdeedoop….we’re just walking by a construction area and you know what they say about how life is about the journey, not the destination?  Well, that’s true in Photography as well.

I loved the urban vibe of the wire fence, and the “danger” signs were really cool.  They are symbols of life’s many crossroads, am I right?!!  ;)

The BxW BTS shot shows what is behind Jalin:  not much!  I angled my camera to completely miss the messy area and shot wide open to blur it out.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 400, f/1.4, 1/3200 sec, open shade, late morning]

Behind-the-Scenes #5

I had this idea that Jalin could stand very still while crowds rushed by her, but that never happened.  We waited for awhile, but it was a Sunday, which meant less foot traffic.  The light was also not super interesting, so I found that BxW pulled the image together best and made Jalin stand out the most.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 800, f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, indoors, low light]

Behind-the-Scenes:  Tada!  

We just finished, so we took a quick pic.  That’s the proud mama who is also my friend on the left, the beautiful Jalin, and yours truly.

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If this is helpful to you, you can check out my BTS of Crystal or this one of Katy and Tammy!

Superglue

After the rain, everything is quieter.  Greener.  Fresher.

It was really beautiful to photograph, even without the sun.  The farmland by the woods was really quiet and empty, and the green color of the moss on the trees and the damp leaves illuminated.  Even the smell… it was invigoratingly clean.

The best part of the shoot, however, was seeing Alex and Roberta’s girls and giving them great big bear hugs.  I’ve missed seeing their smiley faces and how sweet they are with each other.  These two are the ones who makes me wish I had a sister.  Their Superglue bond is undeniable and a joy to see.

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Glow

Some may think it’s a “pregnancy glow”, but I think it’s a glow from being Christine.  :)

I had never met Christine til the day of her shoot, and right away, I could see she had a personality that glowed from the inside.  You know what I’m talking about!  She smiled a lot, had the kindest eyes, and was thoughtful to strangers around us at the park.  I found myself hugging her, like I had known her for years.

On top of that, she had the cutest baby bump that, even at 37 weeks gestation, you could only see when she stood sideways.

Daddy-to-be, Kevin, was funny and cool.  He had the kind of dry humor that I love from growing up in the East Coast.  I had a really fun afternoon with these two, and I know they’ll be wonderful parents to their little one.

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Purest Form of Love

Photographing engaged couples is capturing the purest form of a couple’s love.  It’s the love that represents their relationship… the reason why they are attracted to each other… the reason why they are choosing to be together forever.

It was heart-warming to witness Ashley and Brian’s purest form of love.  I was giggling with them and fell in love with their love!  ❤️

I can’t even look at their photos without feeling warm and gooey…and giggly.

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Leaning Into Each Other

I can always tell when families are close in the way that they lean into each other without even realizing it.

It may be when they’re hugging… they leeeean all the way in.  It may be in how they hold hands… they lean their bodies towards one another or even lean forward, like in a trust fall.  It may be when they’re sitting close together… they rest against each other in a relaxed puddle of gooey love.

There was a bunch of leaning going on at this shoot with The S Family!

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San Francisco Urban Garden

When you love something, nothing will keep you away. 

Emily and Danny were thinking of having a different photoshoot than their last few, like shoot in the city surrounded by cool architecture instead of a garden.  Their kids, Aurora and Dex, had a different plan.

They were drawn towards all flowers, fallen leaves, and wandering petals.  They collected them on large crunchy maple leaves and held them with care, so they wouldn’t get blown away.  Even in a location where 95% of their surroundings was concrete and metal, they’d find the small patch of nature and head there with great big smiles.

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Lost in Light

Admittedly we were lost a few times while hiking on a mountain ridge that none of us had been to before — but when we arrived at the top, it was the most glorious sunlight.

So we let the golden sunset bathe us while we gathered our thoughts, took in the fresh air, and gazed at the view.

Our being lost temporarily was nothing compared to the benefits of being lost in the beautiful light.

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All My Senses

This photoshoot satiated all my senses.

  • The house smelled of waffles and coffee.
  • There were amazing lines in the architecture, colors in the backyard, and steam rising from the stainless steel equipment.
  • I could feel the coolness of the morning air and the warmth of the golden sun.
  • I could taste the fresh-brewed coffee.
  • I could hear the sounds of the kids talking, the water running from the faucet, and the dog’s paws hitting the floor.

The morning began with making homemade waffles, sipping coffee and hot cocoa, cutting fruit and cheese, and then dining al fresco.  The L Family also jumped on their trampoline Steph Curry-style, played a game called “Exploding Kittens”, and bonded with their 7-month old puppy Ripley for some final family photos.

I love when photoshoots span beyond visual beauty and into other senses.  ❤️

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