Oslo to San Francisco

With the help of his youngest daughter Christina, Stephan surprised his wife Anja and daughter Mirella with a photoshoot in San Francisco during their “holiday” from Norway!  He booked the shoot months earlier, but only revealed the surprise after they arrived.  What a thoughtful and romantic gesture!

Stephan left it up to me to choose where to shoot, so we went to the base of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.  There, the wind was so strong that it felt like I was sky-diving again, but falling horizontally!  To walk, I only needed to lift my legs and the wind would push me along like an impatient mother duck to her wandering ducklings.

Even with the cold and unforgiving wind, the shoot went smoothly because The B Family were unfazed by the weather and found enjoyment in being together.  In San Francisco.  With me.

I couldn’t ask for anything more.








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On Clouds

Amidst house renovations, a brand new baby, visitors, an active toddler, two big dogs, and a holiday, it is safe to say The L Family had a lot going on when I came over for their shoot.  If you met them though, you wouldn’t know it because they were so cool, calm and content!

This San Francisco Lifestyle Photography session had two parts:  an indoor newborn and family session at the house and an outdoor session in their neighborhood.  It was all shot in a relaxed, lifestyle manner, which captured personalities, relationships and stories.

Check out this sneak peek of The L Family hanging out together and how 7-day new Ryan sleep through most of it.  hee hee.

Ssssssstretch and freeze!


Ryan waking up to gaze at his mom

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Ben believes sharing is caring   :)


On a bed of clouds



Fun on the clouds





In the neighborhood



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The Heart of America

I love buying fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers directly from the farmers.  I love hanging out at farmer’s markets and listening to music.  I love looking at all the vivid colors, shapes and textures of the produce.  And, let’s be real — I love satisfying my uncontrollable need to accept (and devour) any and all fruity taste-tests!

Farmer’s markets are awesome.

And now, after my Commercial Shoot at North Berkeley’s farmer’s market, I was able to talk with some of the farmers and watch them work.  And wow — they are not only incredibly hardworking, but also, they are some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.

I am so grateful to be reminded of how farmers are the HEART of America!

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I am also delighted I had the opportunity to take photographs for a great organization, Ecology Center, and an amazing program, Market Match.  Eating healthy can sometimes be a challenge when you have a small budget and this program enables lower income families to essentially “stretch their dollar”, so they can buy fresh and delicious produce at farmer’s markets!

This Commercial Shoot was a dream come true in so many ways:  the visual beauty of nature, the people, the program.  Love it all.


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The Good Tears

We all hope our lives are sprinkled with such heartfelt moments that we cry the good tears.  The I-can’t-believe-it’s-really-happening tears.  The I-think-my-heart-is-going-to-burst tears.

Brooke and Emmy got married on June 11, 2014 in one of the most breathtaking buildings in the country.  It was the perfect setting for a union of two beautiful souls.

I met Brooke and Emmy for the first time on their wedding day because they live in Ohio.  Though we emailed each other a lot and spoke on the phone, it didn’t take me long to learn (and admire) that they are kind, intelligent and charismatic… that they are devoted to, in love with, and entirely respectful of each other… that they are grateful for the big and little things in their lives.

They are inspiring people who bring light and cause smiles wherever they go.

No exaggeration.  That day, countless strangers — some while driving by — cheered and congratulated them.  One couple offered to buy them a bottle of champagne and meal!  You can’t help, but feel the love when you see them together.


Brooke and Emmy



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You want to know how cool they are?  They came prepared with pizza for the car ride!

As Brooke so eloquently put it, “Sharing pizza makes a happy marriage!” or something like that.  I was laughing too hard and busy bracing myself in the car to remember exactly what went down.  (Just kidding, Vance!)  :)


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Thank you, Brooke and Emmy, for letting me be a part of your special day — a day filled with laughter, love and “good tears”.   


Wedding venue:  San Francisco City Hall

Restaurant:  La Mar

Hair and makeup:  Kim Carmichael and Anthony Genes of Follicle

Brooke’s dress:  J. Crew

Emmy’s dress:  J. Crew

Brooke’s shoes:  Banana Republic

Emmy’s shoes:  J. Crew

Brooke’s hairpin and bracelet:  borrowed from Melody Wrenn, dear friend of couple

Photographer:  Annie Tao

Food Photography Tips


Does this photo make you want to eat it?

Food Photographers think this way.

Food Photography can be simple to quite complicated where there are Stylists involved to glaze and spray and even use tweezers to carefully place each crumb!

I admit I can never be a Food Stylist because I find the natural crumbs and even sauce splatters appetizingly beautiful.  I also can’t be a full-time Food Photographer because I don’t have the self-control to walk away without tasting it!  (I love Food, what can I say?!!)

Here are a few basic tips to get you started with Food Photography…



1.  Watch your angles.

Take a top view then a side view.  Variety is the spice of life.  (Spice, get it?)

2.  Minimize what’s in the frame.

You don’t have to get too fancy with what is under, behind and next to the food item.  Let the food be the star.

3.  Use natural light.

Food looks better in natural light, so take the shot during the day and set the food near a window.  Make sure you turn off the indoor lights, so there isn’t mixed lighting on the food.

4.  Prepare it to be eaten. 

When you are photographing food, it can help to prepare the food like you are ABOUT to eat it.  Sometimes seeing a piece on a fork or a heaping spoonful makes the food look more scrumptious!

5.  Consider the ingredients.



I recently baked banana blueberry bread.  Instead of photographing it as a fully baked loaf, I sliced it to cool (photographed it) and then plated it (and photographed it again).  I also photographed some of the ingredients, like the locally grown blueberries right after I washed them and the two perfect organic brown eggs.  The dough mixture even looked good to me because it had chunks of fruit, so I photographed that too.

Do any of these images make you want to eat it?  I know MY answer!  Mmmmmmmm….






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Ready for a Bite


As a reward for reading this far (haha), here is my recipe.  It is seriously delicious!

Annie’s Blueberry-nana Bread


Butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting the loaf pan
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed to yield about 1 cup
1 cup of fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3″ loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon).  In a large bowl, beat the wet ingredients (sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla) until blended.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Gently fold in the bananas and blueberries at the end.  Careful not to over-blend.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes (times may vary slightly depending on your oven).  You can check by using a toothpick and inserting it into the middle of the loaf.  If it comes out clean, then the loaf is done.  Set the pan aside to cool.  Then remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours.

Enjoy with your favorite beverage!  And don’t forget to share.  :P

Milk Boxes and A Shadow

This East Bay Lifestyle Photography session of The W Family was full of exploring, fruit-picking, tail feather-shaking and, most of all…


Cole enjoyed blowing bubbles, but no more than hoarding all the milk boxes — haha.  He also had so many funny sayings.  It was as if a grown man was trapped inside his little 3-year old body because… how could he come up with all of this on his own?!!  He cracked me up all morning.

Mia loved picking flowers.  She was warm and playful.  She also really enjoyed being wherever I was!  She made a fantastic shadow.  I tried to out-run my shadow a couple times, but it never worked.  ;)


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Simon and Connie:  You have a wonderful family, and I am honored to be your first family photographer!  xo ~annie

Forever and Priceless

The best gifts are those that you will remember forever and are priceless.  Brian knew that for his wife, Tara, this would be a Lifestyle Family Photography session.  So we had her Christmas present shoot on Mother’s Day.  Makes sense to me!  :)

I absolutely love this family.  Kevin and Marinn were so sweet to each other and full of personality, and Brian and Tara were laid back, “got” my vision and trusted me.

Thus, they were in a barn, in a tree and in a cemetery!  Seriously.  How cool are they?!!





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Backyard Bliss

This weekend’s Lifestyle Family Photography session in the Peninsula went something like this…

Weeeeeeee!” (swinging), “Hahahaha!” (telling stories in a tree), “Indy!” (playing with their four-legged baby and watching him steal the balls), and lots of family sweetness.

The entire session took place in The C Family’s blissful backyard.  I wonder if they’d mind if I pitched a tent and camped back there for a weekend… with my husband and 3 kids!  ;)

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Starbucks Commercial!!!

I am incredibly proud to be a part of this Mother’s Day commercial for Starbucks, featuring Oprah Winfrey!

Alright, it’s more like giddy with excitement!  I just skipped all the way to my kids’ school for pick-up.  :)

Take a few of my FAVORITE things — children, moms, women power, education, Oprah, Starbucks, Chai Tea Lattes — and you get this commercial!!!

The commercial promotes their new product, Teavana Oprah Chai Tea Latte, and Starbucks will donate a portion of the proceeds to educating children.  Love!


[My photo is the one about "grandma" at the :20 mark.]

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Everlasting Friendship

When I think of girls, I think of everlasting friendships.

The strongest friendships are formed through sisterhood. 


To see more entries for “Let’s Hear It For The Girls” or to get fab photography tips, check out I Heart Faces.