Yoga Breaths

Supna and I talked about how we taught our children to take deep breaths when they feel angry, frustrated, sad…  Yoga breaths.  This is also important for us adults to do because our lives are filled with busy schedules and packed To Do lists.  As we get older, doesn’t it feel like the years are passing quicker than when we were younger?  It is philosophically unfair, but c’est la vie.

So what can we do?

Take yoga breaths.  Look at the colors and smiles around us.  Listen to the music and laughter.  Taste good food.  Smell pretty things.  Hold hands.

And that’s what Supna and Parag did during their visit to San Francisco from Florida for Parag’s big milestone birthday.  (It also happens to be their 15 year wedding anniversary AND their first adult vacation since having triplets!)  They enjoyed the Farmer’s Market, the sites and sounds of their favorite city, and, best of all, each other.  <3

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Dinosaur Head

Stories by the garden, leaf races at a waterfall, songs while climbing a giant tree on the cliff.  These were some activities The H Family had this past weekend, just to name a few.  However, I bet if we asked Max, the expert 3-year old rock collector, he would say the best part of the photoshoot was finding a rock the shape of “a dinosaur head”!

Or maybe it was picking up one of the other 50 rocks and sticks that adventurous morning.  ;)

It was so fun to play with Chase and Max, to see how much they have grown, and to catch up with their parents, Nichole and Clark!

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The Wishing Shrub

For my Mia’s 11 year old shoot, we chose to concentrate on her love of creating with her hands, reading, and creative writing.

So she made 11 cranes out of origami paper — one representing each of the years of her life.  Then, obviously, we turned one of our hydrangea shrubs into a Wishing Shrub.  :)  Mia carefully placed each crane while thinking about the meaning of each year.  With the last crane, which represents this upcoming year, she made a wish.

Afterwards, she hung out on our swing bench and read a story she wrote.

It was so… “her”.   <3

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The Other Side of a Selfie

I ain’t gonna lie.  I take selfies just like the rest of the under 35 population — except I am allegedly above that number, but shhhhh!

Anyhow, what I find horrendously awful, yet funny are the stories I read about how some teens and 20-somethings spend HOURS, if not most of the day, taking hundreds of photos to get that one perfect selfie to post on social media.  It is to a point of addiction, but of what?  Self-promotion?  Self-consciousness?  Validation of self-worth?

I don’t know exactly, but I do think it needs to get under control soon because I’d hate for my kids to grow up in a society where their internal happiness is governed by how many views they get or how many people clicked “like”!

With that said, I thought I’d show everyone just how funny “the perfect selfie” can be…or more like, NOT PERFECT!  :)

[Note:  these shots were taken with my iPhone.]

My Selfie

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The OTHER SIDE of my Selfie

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BWAHAHAHA!!!   :D
I was about to step out to meet with my friend, and I didn’t do the dishes yet.  They’re not even pretty dishes…they’re kids’ plastic and melanine dishes that don’t break.  There’s also some trash on the counter.  In the background of my selfie, you actually can make out some plastic from bread rolls and a half bottle of a “one buck chuck”!  I think I didn’t finish putting on my lipstick either…or maybe I just ate something?!!  Well, this is where there was nice light, so I stood next to my dirty dishes.  And I needed to leave, so I didn’t fuss with anything.  Whole thing took about 15 seconds.

Funny, right?!!

Let’s keep it this way, folks!  Don’t aim for Perfection.  Aim for Realism!  Be real.  Be you.

And know that the only “like” you need is the one you give yourself.

xo,

annie

The Pink Balloon

Hmmmm….what could the pink balloon stand for?!!  ;)

SQUEEEEE!!!  I’m so excited for The S Family!

This Lifestyle Maternity Photography session was a relaxing stroll through Louisa’s alma mater:  Stanford!  We went to areas that weren’t as iconic because, let’s be honest, those areas are… “been there, done that”!  :)  However, we did stumble upon areas that were unknowingly closed for construction, dried up, or scary-looking (haha), but we still had fun wherever we went!

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Twirling in the Garden

Lifestyle Family Photography sessions with young children are all about being flexible and going with the flow of whatever the kids feel!

So in this beautiful garden setting, we had doll-eating, twirling, silly face-making, hopping like a bunny, hand-holding, high-flying feet kicking, gummy-chewing, flower-smelling, and wearing of special hats for the parents!  You’ll see what I mean about the “special hats” below.  :)

And loving.  There were hugs and love to be found throughout my afternoon with The G-L family!

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When I Grow Up

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I remember crying in Kindergarten when my teacher insisted that each student announce what they wanted to be when they grew up.

I was a shy child whose parents split up when I was three and we moved around a lot, so talking in front of a group was far from being ‘fun’.  (By the end of Elementary School, I couldn’t stop talking, so there was a weird life symmetry there!  ha!)  Anyhow, I remember thinking to myself, “How would I know what I want to be?!!  I am only five!”

The result of the silence and all eyes on me:  tears.

Fast forward to 6th grade.

It was a similar situation, but this time, the teacher asked us to think about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  This time, I did.  I put a lot of thought into it.  I had friends who named the profession of their mother or father.  Some wanted to be what they considered a ‘hero job’:  a doctor, a firefighter.  For me, I had always loved Art.  Always.  Yet, I thought being an Artist meant standing on a sidewalk with my paintings and hoping to sell something, so I could have money to eat!  Thus, Art was never something I considered as a plausible career.

Instead, I came up with two things.  I was 11 years old, and I knew I wanted to be…

A mother.

Happy.

I’ve always loved kids and thought the coolest thing in the entire World would be to be a mom.  To have kids.  To hold babies.  To love them unconditionally.  To teach them skills and help shape them to be confident and good people.

And happy.  I didn’t know what job I wanted.  I didn’t think about income, industry, or position.  I didn’t care about the details.  I just knew that whatever my career would be, I needed to be happy.

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So going full circle here, I am now a business owner of something I am passionate about:  creating art.  I am also a mother of little humans who test my patience sometimes (haha), but they make me grow and learn and teach.  They make me want to always see the World as a silver lining, to find good in people.  I can humbly say that I am happier with them in my World.

Thank you — yes, YOU — for sharing in my journey!

Now why on Earth am I thinking about all this?

Well, my littlest monkey just turned 6 years old.  (These photos are from her 6 year old photoshoot.)  She is in Kindergarten, and I remembered how I was asked that question when I was her age.  Unlike me, however, Avie knows what she wants to be when she grows up.  A singer.  Well, not any ordinary singer.  A Singing Baker.  So in a few years, if you hear about a bakery that just opened up where the baker sings, you’ll know it’s my child!  :)

When I grow up (hey, I’m still growing!), I want to be where I am now.  But just older.

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Why Photography Matters in Business

With the prevalence of internet usage and infusion of social media in our daily life, consumers have become more visual now than ever.

Not only do they count on a website or app to look appealing, they also are more inclined to notice — and judge — if an image is an authentic one or one that is a stock photo.  Does the image provoke a feeling?  Does the image look real?  Is it believable?  These are the questions that consumers answer subconsciously.  Unintentionally.  This is what happens now with visually-savvy consumers.

A content-heavy landing page is no longer desirable.  What is enviable are sites with eye-catching images that make the viewer feel something.  A connection.  A feeling.  A desire to buy it, to attend it, to be a part of it.  Whatever the business is, the images can make a consumer intrigued.  It is then up to the total content of the pages to seal the deal with whatever the business is selling.  Without the compelling images and a buttoned-up marketing strategy, consumers will exit the site.

You only have a few seconds to make a first impression.

So if you’re a business owner or you manage a business, take a look at your website and ask yourself, “What does my home page say about my business?”  “Does it command my attention?”  “Does it look modern and exciting, or boring and dated”?

As an example, I’ve attached print screens of Rice Business School‘s Before and After home page and program page.  This was a recent Commercial Photography project I worked on, and I am very proud to be a part of it.  I think you’ll agree that the Before and After are like night and day.

*HOME PAGE*

Before

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After

These are a few of the rotating images…

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*PROGRAM PAGE*

Before

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After

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Websites have been vital for businesses for eons, but with each year, I believe that Commercial Photography has increased in its importance.  What do you think?  Can you have a great business without a strong web presence and imagery?

My Candy Store

Quiet moments, laugh-out-loud moments, sweet tender moments, serious moments.  Having all of these things and beautiful sunlight in one Lifestyle Shoot is my “candy store”!  I am gasping in delight at the plethora of emotions and stories that unfolded that morning.  Take, for instance, this first photo below of the dad walking with his youngest daughter.  That was my first frame.  My very first shot.  When a shoot starts like this, it’s just…WOW.

There is no magic pill or fancy formula.  My advice to you, if you have a photoshoot coming up, is…

Relax.  Be yourself.  Have fun.  Don’t have an agenda.  Let your kids be kids.

Now come check out my “candy store” of moments from this past weekend!

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Commercial Photography: Rice University

I went back to Houston, y’all!  :)  This time, I spent a few days photographing the beautiful and prestigious Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.  (For short, I call it Rice Business School.)

All important projects have goals. 
One of my goals was to capture the personality and essence of Rice Business School in an authentic way.  My days consisted of attending classes, taking casual headshots of students within each MBA program, capturing images of professors collaborating with students, scouting locations, and sculpting images based on the light.  Putting someone in the stairwell because there was “good light” was not unfathomable!  ;)

All great adventures have obstacles. 
One that surfaced was the weather.  There could be sun and clear skies and then a half hour later, it would turn dark, rainy, and windy.  And no one would blink an eye… except me, a California girl whose State has been in a severe drought for years.  When it rains in CA, it’s reported on every news channel!

No obstacle was too big, however, even when we found out on Shoot Day 1 that there would be no students on Day 3 and few students on Day 2.  So yes, I had to photograph a school with limited students.  Meh, not a problem!  ;)  All kidding aside, I wholeheartedly believe challenges are opportunities for growth, so bring them on, I say!

Now take a look.

These are the faces of Rice Business School… the faces of the campus, faculty and students.  They have much to celebrate at this school, and I am humbled to be a part of their creative process.

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Want to see what I worked on the last time I was in Houston?  There was a dark and windy rainstorm then too!  Click HERE and HERE.