Let Kids Be Kids

With plenty of balloons, shiny confetti, markers, the comfort of their home, and relaxed parents, the kids of the L Family were happy as clams.

Lucy and Scott knew that they could plan and plan, but in the end, their photos would turn out best when they allowed their kids to be just that… kids!  Lucy even told me that the morning after their shoot, her kids asked if they could “do more photos with Annie today”!  That is the true measure of a successful shoot because it speaks to the family’s experience.  Well, that, plus the photos!  :)

So check out this super fun Lifestyle Photography session at the L Family’s gorgeous home.  There were so many cute surprises!

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My Final Shoot

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Recently, I went to my son’s soccer game where I brought my camera for the first time.  When I returned home, my vision was suddenly hazy.  Everywhere I looked — the kitchen, the livingroom, outside — there was incredibly dense fog.  Nothing was clear.  It was so bad that it looked like my house was on fire from all the smoke, but I knew there was actually nothing there.  It was really scary.

Hours went by and nothing I did helped my vision.  So I cried.  Hard.  Was this going to my be vision from now on?

I thought I had just had my final photoshoot.  I was glad it was of my own child, but was sad I wouldn’t be able to continue my business… a business dependent upon my ability to see!

My mind raced with things I needed to do, like contact my clients who had booked photoshoots to tell them the news and refund their money.  Then my thoughts snowballed.  How would I take care of my kids?  How would my husband continue to work away from home when I could no longer drive or take my kids to school?  Wait a minute.  Will I ever see my children’s faces clearly again?!! 

[Just a bit of background:  I have retinal issues with both my eyes, so losing my vision is not farfetched.]

Long story short, I saw two Opthamologists in one week, and they came up with two different diagnoses — the final one being the correct one.  It appears that the foggy vision can be controlled and was temporary — however, the lesson it taught me was permanent.  Everything changes; nothing stays the same.  So be grateful for the things you have and don’t dwell on the things that aren’t going right because everything changes.

On the nights I’ve been able to control the foggy vision, I spent minutes gazing at my children’s faces.  Minutes may not sound like a long time, but you try it!  Sit in front of your child and hold their faces in your hands.  And just look at them.  REALLY look at them!  Your child will probably think each minute is an eternity, as mine did.  Ha!  But I am so grateful I can see their cute little faces, dried-up food smears and all!

So go out there and do something you love.  Or do 10 things you love.  And be grateful you can do them.

xo

annie

Below are some photos of what I thought was my FINAL photoshoot.  My 7-year old son scored a goal during a Soccer game, and I was there to see it and capture it with my camera!

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Final Thoughts:

I know my experience may sound a bit dramatic because there are plenty of people who have lost their vision or acquired debilitating diseases and injuries, and they are doing great.  I am inspired by people who go through a loss and come out stronger.  I am in no way saying that my World would stop revolving if I had not gained my vision back.

What I was reminded of was how anything can change at anytime, including my ability to be a Photographer and ability to see my children’s faces!  It may not be right now, but perhaps some day.  It is up to me to make the most of what I do have, right now.

The lesson I learned seemed important to share with others because, in my opinion, we all can use a little reminder to put down our phones when we are with our loved ones or take an extra minute to enjoy the world around us.

Picnic by a Piazza

Lili and Eddie are more than clients.  They’ve become friends over the years.  (I’ve known them since their first photoshoot with me when Lili was pregnant with Benji 5 1/2 years ago.)

This year, I counted down the days to their shoot for the last two months.  I hopped over to them out of sheer excitement when I saw them in the parking area!  How can I explain this?  They’re the kind of people who aren’t embarrassed to show affection in public or laugh out loud.  They are passionate people with integrity and coolness.  :)  And their boys.  Oh, their boys.  They are respectful and playful and thoughtful.  I adore them!

When it came time for their shoot, we decided to have a theme that reminded them of their recent trip to Italy.  Here’s the set-up:

Stopping for a snack on a sidewalk near a piazza in Florence, reading storybooks (set in Italy), and just being happy to be together.

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Published in Daily Dog Tag

One of the sweetest write-ups ever and from a delightful publication too!  Thank you, The Daily Dog Tag!

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To see the entire article on The Daily Dog Tag, click here!

Double Chin Deluxe

Baby Marissa joined The C Family a month ago, so I zipped over to their house to capture their life as it is right now!  First, I photographed the baby with all her chins (hee hee) at their home.  See Exhibit A:

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ADORABLE, right?!!  :)

Then we went to their neighborhood park to play.

Some cute observations from their shoot:

~ Marissa is calmest when her dad, Tim, holds her outward, so she can see his face.  Then her arms fall to her side completely limp!
~ Madeline (4 yrs old) proves she can do everything her big brother can do, like the monkey bars!
~ Matthew (6 yrs old) has a cool train set and has been playing that since my first shoot with them 3 years ago.
~ Jenny really loves stuffed animals.  There is one in her collection that looks like a cross breed between a panda and Olaf!

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Newborn Photography usually takes longer than a typical Lifestyle session because parents need to take time caring for their baby, but when you add in young children to the mix, it adds to the dynamic.  [To learn more about Newborn Photography, here’s an article on Sensitivity and one on Lifestyle Newborn.]

This sweet family kept thanking me at the end of their shoot because their shoot lasted 3 hours (as some Newborn Shoots do) — however, I was the one who felt grateful!  Tim and Jenny are such awesome people, so their shoots feel more like hanging out with friends!  And their kids were so fun to play with that they had me laughing a lot.  To top it off, they “get” my style of photography and appreciate me.

Thank you, thank you, Tim and Jenny, for giving me the pleasure of capturing this slice of your lives!  xoxo  ~annie

Published on The Knot

The Knot is one of the largest wedding publications and one that I relied on for inspiration when I got married, so I am extremely excited that they published Sherie and Jeff’s wedding photos today!

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For me, the biggest inspirational takeaway from Sherie and Jeff’s big day was how to enjoy every moment, no matter what life throws at them.  Their cheerful attitude radiated throughout the city.

The details, like the flowers and hair/makeup, were all incredible, but only second in beauty to the smiles and love that were omnipresent.

Published on Boundary Stone Baby

When a publication with beautiful imagery wants to feature my work, I do a jump-kick, wave my arms like an octopus and shake-my-tail-feathers kind of dance.  It’s not pretty.  You should stay far far away from me on the dance floor.  ;)

This feature is long (YAY!), so you’ll have to check out the full article here.

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This session of Alex and his amazing family is a great example of true Lifestyle Photography.  They just flew kites, played with sea creatures, and hiked around on the beach.

Activities and expressions were all au naturale, just the way I like them!  :)

Concrete Jungle

For their 6th family photoshoot, Elaine and Victor decided to head to the concrete jungle of downtown San Francisco.  They climbed on things, did high jumps at a waterfall, strutted their stuff in a mock fashion show, and ate Beard Papa pastries.  *drool*

What a fun morning in the big city!

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Below is my favorite sequence of the shoot.  Elaine’s reaction was absolutely priceless!  :)

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The Travel Shoot

Since their Dream Shoot, Brenda and Benny wanted to change things up this year.  No more cold morning shoots!  So they were thinking the late afternoon, during the “golden hour”, and to try a Styled Shoot.  But what theme?

The F Family travel a lot.  And I mean A LOT!  It feels like every month, but I don’t know exactly.  All I know is that I have to plan far ahead if I want to see them because they may be in Europe or Asia or one of the islands of Hawaii or some other area around the globe.  With Benny in the airline industry, that’s how they roll!  Lucky, right?!!

Whoops, I digress. 

So travel was a glaringly obvious theme that clearly represents what they do together as a family.  However, The F Family had a couple major life events just before their shoot — like buying a new house — so having a styled shoot almost didn’t happen.  After a few encouraging texts (hee hee), Brenda started gathering a few travel-related items, and the props came together just in-time!

The globe is from Brenda’s workplace, the vintage suitcase belongs to a friend, the map is of their new hometown, travel books are of places they’ve been or want to go, their passports, candy and snacks are from Japan where they just visited, and even the paper lanterns have significance.  They are from Brenda’s first race with her older daughters, Brianna and Bailey!  They played a food game too, which was to represent Brenda’s profession as a Food Scientist.  Oh, how I love Styled Shoots and this family!

[Fun fact:  Brenda is one of my best friends for over 20 years, so this isn’t just any Styled Shoot, but a Styled Shoot of one of my besties and her family!]

Scroll down to take a walk into the Redwood Forest with The F Family…

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Little Pumpkin

When you are born in mid-October, it only makes sense to have your One Year Photoshoot at a pumpkin patch!

Baby Evelyn, with her 4 glorious teeth and soulful eyes, was super chill and let her parents change her numerous times on picnic tables and even in the car trunk.  She didn’t make a peep or fuss ever.  In fact, she smiled whenever someone looked at her and clapped joyfully when her dad yelled out sport chants.  Do babies come any cuter?!!

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