Love Is…

When I started my photography business 10 years ago, I thought my job as a Lifestyle Family Photographer was to capture the family’s story.

I was wrong.

I am not capturing any story; I am capturing the family’s definition of Love.

If you ask people to finish the sentence “Love is….”, the variety of answers will probably surprise you.  Love can be physical affection to some — the kisses and embraces they give and receive.  Love can be the unwavering support they receive when life feels uncertain.  Love can be lifting someone higher when they’re soaring and holding their hand when they fall.  Love can be many things.

Last weekend, I photographed The K Family’s “Love is”…

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San-Francisco-lifestyle-family-photography-family-of-four-playing-in-mist-Golden-Gate-Park

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[If you want to see how The K Family’s “Love Is…” has changed through the years, check out their first shoot, or this one, ooh or this one, or whoa – I almost forgot THIS one!]

Simple is Best

One of the life lessons my father instilled in me was:  Simple is best.

This is relevant in so many ways, including photography.  I had a couple years where I picked up trendy props and backdrops for indoor shoots.  What I found was my most favorite shoots were rarely when things were complicated with over-thought details.  My favorite shoots were usually when the location was simple, props were few, and my time together with my subject(s) was easy-going and free-flowing.

Take for example my shoot this week of my Mia who just turned 12.  (I do a photoshoot of each of my monkeys around their birthdays.)

We didn’t have anything particular in mind, other than Mia requested that her shoot be short.  (*ehem*  I will try not to take that personally.  smh)  We picked out her outfit just before we left, I told her to brush her hair, I made sure there was still battery life in my camera, and we headed out.

The area I had in mind for the shoot was under construction, so I kept driving.  After a bit of driving aimlessly purposefully, we stopped at a red light near a strip mall (classy, I know) where there was a parking lot and an unkempt hillside behind a row of bushes, which appeared to be planted to keep people out.  So obviously, I saw that as an invitation to climb over.  ;)

Voila, my mini shoot of my sweet Mia!

THE TAKEAWAY:  Sure, you should plan for your shoot, but you don’t need to overthink it.  Sometimes, my dad is right… simple is best! ❤️

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Bathtime Shoot

I am slowly accepting the fact that my kids will continue to grow up (as much as I’ve resisted it – haha), so I wanted to capture my youngest the way she is right now for her 7 year old birthday photoshoot!  A Lifestyle Shoot will be a departure from the last few years of doing Styled Shoots — like the Train Station Shoot and the Fairytale Shoot.

When Ava is at home, you can usually find her sitting on my lap, snuggling with me, singing me a song, playing with me, or being busy right next to me.  She’s my small, cute shadow.  Thus, I realize a “regular day” would be difficult to photograph unless I shot through mirrors or with a selfie stick!  haha.  So I narrowed down the shoot to bath time!

Bath time would show how she is in-between the stages of “little kid” and “big kid” because she can do everything herself, yet she still finds bath toys and bubbles fun.  Some things I wanted to capture:  she started wrapping her hair in a towel; she lost her 4th baby tooth a few days ago, so now her smiles have holes; she has creations displayed all around, like her Dr Seuss-inspired Pig In A Wig doll; and she loves singing and dancing right after a shower or bath.  With a hairbrush.  And the towel still on her head.

I am thrilled with how the images turned out and wish I could share more images with you, but thinking into the future, I want to respect her privacy and don’t want to embarrass her, so I can only show you a few select ones.  You’ll get a feel for it though!

Happy birthday to my Ava Bear.  ❤️

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*BEHIND THE SCENES*

This is me with my Warriors shirt and messy ponytail.  I know, my bathroom has kids stuff E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.  C’est ma vie. 

By the way, if Ava wasn’t in a bathtub, she’d be right there at my side, probably hugging my hip while telling me how pretty I look (even when I am looking ragged and tired).  Or she’d probably stick one of her little fingers in a ripped hole of my jeans and giggle.  :)

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Embracing Lines

Have you ever noticed how many LINES there are at the playground?

From years of shooting, I — regardless of whether I want to or not (haha) — notice lines, patterns, light and shadows wherever I go.  If you see me checking my watch, it’s most likely because I am memorizing the time I should shoot in that location because I like the light!  If you see me squatting down, it’s probably because I noticed that a lower perspective changes the lines of something I’m looking at, or I like the way the light hits something from that angle!

Sure, that’s a little wacky, but as one of my favorite cartoon characters would say:  I yam who I yam! 

That brings me to my periodic quick tip!

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:
Look out for lines.  Embrace them in your photography.  Once you really, truly notice them, find ways you can incorporate them into your photograph.

This can be at any location, but during a recent shoot, we stopped by the park’s playground for the last half hour or so.  It was really fun to let the kids run around, and everywhere, I saw lines, patterns, and light.

Below are some examples.

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Morning Ukelele

When you’re a few months shy of being three, a FABULOUS morning is one that begins with a ukelele performance in front of your favorite people, mama and dada!  After a short ride in the city, you get to chase birds, watch boats, and shop.  You end the morning by devouring a chocolate cupcake by the waterfront.  :)

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Tina and Aunkur:  thank you for sharing your weekend with me and for allowing me to capture a slice of your life!  xoxo  ~annie

Favorites Images of 2016

I’m a month late to post this, but some say “better late than never”, so I’m going with that!  ;)

Thanks to those who voted for their favorites.  We have the results for the two categories!  The top 3 winning images for Best Moments won by a large majority, but this year, we had many Firsts…

It is the first year many of the top images were very close in The Most Delicious Light category.  It is also the first year where more than one photo from the same shoot won distinction in the same category.  (You can see all the images in each category if you go to my FB page.)

BEST MOMENTS OF 2016

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.

#1

Loving sisters

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#2

Three granddaughters

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#3

Running on a bridge

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#4

Laughter is the best medicine

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#5

Mom will always be your first love

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#6

The icy bay

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MOST DELICIOUS LIGHT OF 2016

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 or feel of the image would change).

#1

Nature’s Spotlight

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Tied for #2

Soft diffused light on the soft flow of her hair

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Highlights

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#3

Golden afternoon in the park

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#4

Early Morning Glowy Sunlight

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Tied for #5

The multitude of circle bokeh and slightly overexposed image makes her look like an angel.

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Morning Light in the Kitchen

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#6

Sunset and the Golden Gate Bridge

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Curious about past winning images?  Grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy:
Favorite Images of 2015
Favorite Images of 2014
Favorite Images of 2013
Favorite Images of 2012.

Laughter in the East Bay

I first met this adorable couple in 2012.  Renuka sported the cutest belly bump and together with Sandeep, we ran around a breezy San Francisco for their Maternity Shoot.

Now, five years later, they’ve moved to the East Bay (wahoo!) and have two kids!  We caught up during their updated photoshoot at a park in their new neighborhood.  Between laughing with Renuka and playing with Anamika who kept saying, “Miss Annie!  Miss Annie!”, I had a blast and almost forgot I was there for work.

Yup, taking photos of awesome people in amazing locations is my job.  Don’t hate.  ;)

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Huxley and Wesley

Huxley and Wesley became brothers last September.  They live in San Francisco with their parents, Alyson and Matt, and enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood, even though Huxley is the only one of the pair who knows how to walk right now — on four legs too.  Huxley loves Wesley so much that he shows him through wet kisses.  Everywhere.  :)

Now check out my first client shoot of the New Year!

It’s a Lifestyle Shoot of a gorgeous family in their beautiful home in my favorite city in the World. <3

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My Everything Bag

I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of person.  I love boots, hats, flip flops and sunglasses.  I rarely pick up fashion magazines because I don’t care to follow trends.  I wear what I love, what feels good, what makes me feel good about myself.  Maybe that’s not even really “a style”, but that’s how I choose what to buy and what to wear.

So when I was online one day and stumbled across this bag that perfectly sums up my style AND happens to be a camera bag… omg. <3

Today, I took it out for a spin for the first time and decided last minute to take photos of it — so don’t judge my flat hair.  ;)

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Here is what I love about this Kelly Moore (Collins) camera bag:

- It’s made of thick canvas and genuine leather.  This makes the bag sturdy, and not too heavy.  The dual material gives it an urban edge.
- The shape of the bag allows it to be slouchy, but the material makes it rigid enough to hold its shape.
- It has lots of metal buckles, studs, zippers, and lots and lots of pockets!
- It has a lined, padded interior with adjustable/removable dividers to protect my gear.
- The bag has a removable long strap, so I can choose to hang the bag on my shoulders or carry it by the handles for a different look.

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My favorite part…

It has a separate area (a zipped pocket on the outside) for my wallet items!  In my last lens bag, I had to put my cash, keys and cards in one of the lens compartments, which meant they sometimes fell out because I would need to reach into the various slots to find what I needed.  With this bag, it’s right there on the side, and I don’t need to dig around or touch my gear unnecessarily.

The extra wallet area makes this bag a fantastic accessory for everyday use, not just for shoots.  Yup, this will be my bag for everything:)

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To get more information about this bag, click on this link (go to Canvas collection and click on Collins).

[FYI:  Kelly Moore did not contract me to write this or give me the bag.  I bought this because I was looking for a new camera bag -- one that will last longer than a year and one that doesn't actually look like a standard camera bag.]

Holiday Music

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Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la!

A random fact about me:  I love listening to Christmas music.  I will turn up the volume and belt it out.  If you’re in my car, I will insist that you sing with me.  I can listen to it throughout the year, not only in December.

But what if your season ISN’T jolly?

There is nothing jolly about my heater breaking the other day and it was only 35F degrees out — and I have 3 kids and a puppy to keep warm.  I was struggling to stay sane with my husband, Lawrence, away on another business trip.  This past year, I had some health issues, which has effected us emotionally and financially.  And every Christmas, I feel the void of my dad’s passing because this was the holiday when I’d see him.

Well, get this…

I still love listening to holiday music even though it may sound contrived when there are things I’m worried/stressed/unhappy about.  You know why?

Because every Winter, there are cheerful holiday songs playing on the radio.  No matter what.  That reminds me that time never stands still.  Things are ever-changing, and that includes how we see things.

We had warm clothes to wear when the heater went kaput.  Whenever my kids found out I was cold, they’d rush over to hug me to keep me warm!  Lawrence travels frequently for work, but he always returns home safely.  I found some great doctors who helped me with my health issues.  And although I wish we could be spending the holidays with my dad (or just have my kids and Lawrence meet him!), I know that it was his sudden passing that gave me the kick in the pants to change my career to one that makes my heart happy.

The songs remind me that things will be okay, so why not be joyful.  Be thankful.  Be good to others because some have it worse than I do.  And enjoy the little things because time continues to move, and you don’t want to find out that the ‘little thing’ was actually a ‘big thing’ and miss it.

So last Sunday, I had my last shoot for 2016 with Leonard, Gabrielle, Christian and Livvy.  It was a Styled Shoot with a Winter theme, so we had it at a Christmas Tree Farm.

Everything about it makes me want to belt out holiday music.  <3

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