Eating Bubbles

Sometimes life throws you curveballs.  You go about your day and suddenly, something unexpected happens and you’re forced to sink or swim.  Afterwards, you can choose to reflect on what happened and learn from it, or you can push it into the deep recesses of your mind and go on your merry way.

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This Father’s Day weekend, my father-in-law was in the hospital, needed emergency surgery and had to be in the ICU.  It was not only stressful and caused us to worry, but for me, it also revived a frightening memory of when I was at the hospital with my father who passed away.  No way could this happen to both my dads! 

Today, I feel incredibly thankful for his daily recovery, good medical care at the hospital, and our ability to be with him during this time.

I learned from the two experiences that I am not a bystander when a loved one is in the hospital.  I make sure I understand the process and communicate with the doctors.  I also learned that when you think there is nothing you can do, there is a power in prayers and being surrounded by loved ones.

This brings me to this weekend’s family shoot.  I have known The C Family for about two decades.  (I had their shoot on my calendar for many months and decided not to tell them about my father-in-law until right before we were leaving as to not worry them.)  As expected, our time together was a breath of fresh air.  Watching Marissa coloring with her mom in the warm breeze, Sam cuddling with her puppy, Alex and his father racing each other, and the kids catching bubbles IN THEIR MOUTHS reminded me that life, though rough at times, is about togetherness and that happiness, when stripped down, is made up of “small” things.

I love this family.  I am so lucky to call them my friends.  And I hope that when things get busy and life throws me more curveballs, I will remember to take a page from their book… and eat bubbles.  :)

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When the Stars Align

If you are a parent, you undoubtedly know what I mean when I say a lot can go wrong when you have a toddler, like sleep schedules, disinterest in staying still, and injuries from just learning to walk.  Add to that, a location you are determined to have for your shoot, but is reserved all day for a wedding — well, you are now adding a measure of risk to an already delicate situation.  ;)

So when I tell you that all the stars aligned for this weekend’s Lifestyle Family Photography session, I mean it!  We ended up hedging our bets with the location by switching the shoot to early morning.  The morning lended us a beautiful white light and also ensured that we had the location to ourselves (and that we wouldn’t get kicked out)!  Jacob, who usually wakes super early, decided to sleep in the morning of the shoot, but did wonderfully!  And his usual disinterest of a park after 15 minutes was nowhere to be seen.

This is what a toddler shoot looks like when all the stars align…

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A Beautiful Drought

The first time I met this family, I found out I was allergic to bee stings.  That was not the kind of buzzing excitement I was aiming for, but their shoot turned out nicely.  For their second shoot, which was this past weekend, I am relieved to announce that there weren’t any bees in sight!  :)

Some of my favorite family photos of David and Annie and their boys, Alton and Caden, are of them walking amongst the trees.  You can see one of these shots at the end of this post.

Why is it one of my faves?

~ Mature trees have such interesting and unique shapes, so they can provide great texture to an image.
~ They can also block the direct sunlight, so you get a softer light on days the sun is blazing like it was this weekend.
~ There is a severe drought in California, which is terrible, but I gotta say… photographically, the dried grass and dirt ground provided terrific reflected light and added an airy, romantic quality to the scene.  Who knew a drought could be beautiful?!!
~ Finally, the family was very relaxed and comfortable, so altogether with what I mentioned above, the image is one I keep coming back to.

Ahhhhh…  <3

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When I Grow Up

As a parent, a former teacher, and someone who has always loved little people, I think children are…in one word, incredible.  They learn at amazing speeds and absorb everything.  They develop unique personalities from the time they are babies.  And unlike adults, they always know what’s important:  eat, sleep, play, love, poop.   :)

So with that said, I have a fun little story to tell you about my weekend’s Lifestyle Family Photography session with Josie and her parents, Vivian and Freddy.  It’s told through the eyes of a little one.  Enjoy!

WHEN I GROW UP…

I will be taller.

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I will have the World in my hands.  

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My parents will still be my Protectors and be by my side, even when they’re not.

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My dad will always be the first man I’ve ever loved.

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I will have faith — in myself.

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I will continue to be an independent thinker.  And a do-er!  I will stay brave and do what I believe is right, even if it’s not the most popular view.

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I will let you know if I like something.

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And squash the things I do not like, such as negativity.

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I will always remember that my mom is the most important person in my life.  The one who brought me into this World. 

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The one who will always welcome me with open arms and a full heart.

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Above all else, I will laugh.  I will laugh hard!  And often… with the people whom I love.

That’s what life is all about, right?!!

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And of course I will always remember my photographer, Annie.  ;)

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[If you want to see Josie’s first shoot with me back in 2012, here is The Best Medicine.]

The Hungry Caterpillar

Alright, so Connor isn’t really THE Hungry Caterpillar from the famous children’s book by Eric Carle, but there were similarities, like they’re both cute, they both have little round bodies, and they both eat everything in their way!  ;)

This shoot was for Connor who is turning one year old next week.  His proud parents are Chris and Connie, who have San Francisco close to their hearts because they grew up here and still live here now.  They even work here… in the same place actually!  In fact, here’s a fun fact:  Chris is a doctor and Connie is a registered nurse at the same hospital where I gave birth to my three monkeys!

Check out this San Francisco Lifestyle Family Photography session of a doctor, a nurse and the cutest hungry caterpillar in a cool, urban playground.

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Nom nom. 

See what I mean?!!

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Oh no, not Snoopy!

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Disclaimer:  No playground equipment or animals (ie, Snoopy) were harmed during the photoshoot.  (Connor is teething!)  :)

The Biggest Hug

Twelve month old Bennett is enamored with his mom.  And for good reason.  She is all that and a bag of chips!  (I used to work at Frito-Lay, so I can say that and mean it.  Yummo.  Chips!)

Bennett’s love for his mother, Jennifer, was apparent throughout their South Bay Lifestyle Family Photography session from the way he called out “mama mama” ever so sweetly whenever she left the room and would give her THE BIGGEST hugs whenever she was close enough!

*melt*

Below is a peek into the life of Jennifer, Baelson, Lucy (the furry big sister) and Bennett.  I’m sure you’ll adore them as much as I do.

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Newborn Tara

Being able to hold your baby in your arms after growing it inside your body for three quarters of a year is one of the most wondrous things you could experience.  Ever.  It is one of those experiences that you can’t describe or have explained to you.  It’s a feeling that is so powerful that sometimes, you feel washed with emotion.  This is true for fathers too.  And grandparents.

It is an honor to be able to photograph the delicate nature of a newborn and the emotional complexities of adding another person into a family, as I did this weekend for Arezou, Pedram and baby Tara.

Check out this newborn’s gorgeous full head of hair and THE longest lashes.  Tara was very alert for being 2 weeks new.  And she most definitely gazed knowingly at her mother’s face and felt soothed by her father’s trance-like face massage.  :)

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Thank you, Pedram and Arezou, for welcoming me into your home and letting me photograph your life now as a family of three.  <3  ~annie

Behind-The-Scenes: Little Princess

As part of my 1 hour Styled Session of my 5-year old’s birthday, Ava changed into her flowy pink dress and wore a handmade glittery gold crown that I ordered from etsy.  (She wanted a Princess theme whereas I wanted The Train Station theme, so we compromised by doing both.  Actually, she had 3 outfits, but that’s another post!)  :)

The fog had rolled in, so the temperature dropped 10 degrees and the wind picked up.  I knew this leg of the shoot needed to be really quick.  It was a time to just “get the shot and go”!  We were there for about 15 minutes, including walking to/from the parking lot.

My oldest daughter held my reflector when I needed it, and she took a couple behind-the-scenes shots with my phone as you can see here.  Thanks, Mia!

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Ava’s dress had a gauzy layer that kept getting caught on the prickly wild flowers, so I had her stand on a stool.

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I had waited til the end of the day to get the “golden hour” light, but didn’t anticipate the fog that rolled in after we started.  With the dense fog, you can see that we were running out of light quick!

My poor girl was so cold that she used her arms to hug herself to keep warm — which actually looked pretty darn cute, so I shot through it.

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What I Shot:

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Conclusion:

You can’t always control every aspect of your shoot, like the weather.  So find ways to make the most of what you have.  Sometimes that means finding an alternate light source.  Sometimes it means shooting through the cold and having artistic “thoughtful” shots of your subject rather than “happy” ones.

Use the resources you have, think quickly, and have fun!

Commercial Photography: Duchesne Academy 2

Now that you’ve seen Commercial Shoot days 1 and 2 of Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart, I wanted to share a peek of day 3… “The Dry Day”.  You can just imagine how I hopped and skipped around campus that morning when I saw the glorious sunshine!  :)

In this blog post of the all girls’ Catholic School shoot, you’ll see students who show self-confidence, curiosity, respect, friendship…

…and beauty from within.

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Commercial Photography: Duchesne Academy 1

I had the pleasure of flying to Houston, Texas last week to photograph Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart, a Pre-K to 12th Grade Catholic school for girls.  [FYI:  Duchesne is French and is pronounced "doo-shen".]

I was blown away by the tremendous amount of kindness that exuded from the students and faculty during my 3-day visit.  There were students who helped put away furniture that we moved for the shoot and did it even after we said they didn’t need to help.  People held doors for us and welcomed us with big, genuine smiles.  When we asked for directions to a room, there were students who didn’t just point, but rather, they took the time to walk with us.

That may sound small, but I don’t think any amount of kindness is ever “small”.  And they never went unnoticed or unappreciated.

The emblem for this school is a heart, which I think is perfect because, from what I experienced, this school is full of HEART.  <3

Since I have too many favorites to share on this 3-Day Commercial Photography project, I divided them up into two blog posts:

Part 1:  Days 1 and 2, which were the wet days.  Yep, it was raining.  On Tuesday, there was even a thunderstorm and the darkest sky I’ve ever seen in the day!
Part 2:  Day 3, which happened to be the dry day.  Wahooo… and there was sunshine!

Below is Part 1.  Enjoy!

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