The Greatest Gifts

I think one of the greatest gifts is creating a memory with someone you love, and a bonus would be to have a photoshoot that captures it!  ❤️  Rashmi believes this too (SQUEEEE!) so she scheduled a shoot as a gift for her photography-enthusiast, family-loving husband.

It may not have been that big of a surprise to Sat since their very first shoot with me in 2008 was also a gift.  I still remember hiding at a park while Rashmi brought Sat and their then-toddler son on a walk towards a stranger (that’s me — haha) that led to some fond memories.

It is obvious to anyone who knows Sat that his family is his Everything, and having boys he can play sports with as well as climb cliffsides and trees with is like a kid-at-heart’s dream come true.  Add to that, he and Rashmi have raised boys who are loving and caring, so there are always sweet moments of closeness.

I feel so honored to get to photograph this special family throughout the last 11 years!

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Day in the Life: Peter and Jenny

When you and your spouse are both turning the big 5-0 AND it’s your 20 year wedding anniversary AAAAND you adopted your first puppy, you have a Day-in-the-Life Photoshoot to capture your life as it is right now.

It’s a way to celebrate as well as commemorate a big year!

We started in Peter and Jenny’s kitchen with making shakes, cutting flowers, and playing with their pup.  It was a scorching hot afternoon, so the fruit shakes and watermelon smoothies were refreshing.  They played a frisbee game in the backyard with made-up obstacles, which is how most of Peter’s games are played – heehee.  And as part of their anniversary milestone, they flipped through their wedding album where the kids giggled at how young their parents looked.  Afterwards, they went on a hike, a beloved activity they do as a family and ended the day with a game of basketball.

The 4-hour shoot was truly a slice of their life at age 50 with sporty teen children and young puppy, and it was an honor to capture it all.

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Interested in seeing another Day in the Life session?  YES!  Okay, here are a few more:  Chris & Sinead, The S Family, Larry & Juana.
[I don't shoot a lot of DITL, though I love them, so be warned that you'll see a big evolution of my editing style with these 3 blog post links, which spans 10 years!  The way I shoot and visual imagery I prefer have stayed the same.]

Let me know what you think of DITL shoots!  Do you see the value of them or do you think it’s better to have several shorter shoots instead?

Ray of Sunshine

Lawrence and I told the doctor not to reveal the gender of our third baby when I was pregnant… but I already knew it was a girl.  Or maybe it was because I prayed and prayed and hoped for one.  SO BAD.

So when my third and last baby entered the World, and my doctor held her up and announced “It’s a girl” like what I’ve seen in movies my entire life, I cried.  I cried the ugly cry, but no one, including myself, really cared at that point.  I had a healthy, pink, perfect baby girl!  She arrived 3 weeks early, but based on her already squishy baby face and body, you’d never know that.

I was so happy and loved her so much from that very second.  When she was only 2 months old, we had regular moments where we’d lock gazes, giggle together, exchange smiles… and when she was an older baby, we ‘sang’ together in her quiet nursery before she’d sleep.

It is now nine years later, and Avie is still that person who makes me smile just by looking at her face.  She still follows me around like the cutest shadow and thinks her mommy is the best, most important person ever.  She makes sure I know this from her love notes and drawings whenever there is a piece of paper or foggy mirror.  She is my own personal ray of sunshine, and I feel incredibly blessed.

Happy 9th birthday, Avie.

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Best Moments of 2018

Now, onto Part Two of last year’s winning images.  This one is about moments!

A “moment” is defined as a split second of time ~OR~ a moment that tells a story, whether sweet, emotional or humorous.  My all-time favorite images are the ones that capture a story and have incredible light, so some of these have both! ❤️ *swoon*

BEST MOMENTS OF 2018

#1

A Father’s Love

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#2

This Way, Together

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Tied for #3

Too Many Kisses

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Cracking Up

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Tied for #4

Left:  Happily Married
Right:  Teaching the next generation how to pray

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Autumn Leaves

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Tied for #5

Where’d she go?

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Uncontrollable Laughter

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Click here to see last year’s winning images:  Best Moments of 2017, Most Delicious Light of 2017.

Most Delicious Light of 2018

It is time to reveal the winning images from last year!

The photos that made it into this category were chosen based on the role light played in the image. Specifically I answered the questions: “If the light was different, would I like it as much?” “Did the light effect the mood or story of the image?”  Then that collection of images went into a Facebook album for public voting during a set time period.

Aaaaaaand the winners are….. ☺️

MOST DELICIOUS LIGHT of 2018

#1

The brownish fog in the woods, the vertical lines of the trees, the perfectly balanced boys to their father, the gently curved sticks that mimic a rainbow.

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#2

The spotty light highlighted the rainbow bubbles, which complemented the joy on the little girl’s face.

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#3

Sunlight can be a softbox-spotlight.

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Tied for #4

Candles at twilight held by children means blue light on white shirts and a warm glow on faces and hands.

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The Bay Area fog creates a romantic mood for this couple.

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#5

The haze and glare from the strong sun on the San Francisco Bay made this sailboat image surreal.

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Wait, what?!!  You want more? ☺️ Alright, click here to see last year’s winning images:  Most Delicious Light of 2017.

Walnut Dynamic Duo

I love the feel of wood under my fingertips, sun on my face, and sand under my feet as the waves sweep over me.

So when I saw this dynamic duo made of premium walnut wood with laser-etching and magnetic closure, I was smitten.

This is an exclusive custom USB drive with case that has a limited production, so I am thinking of a special way to use this.  Maybe it’ll contain an e-book that I’ve been wanting to write!  Or if anyone has any cool ideas they want to throw into the hat, let me know in the Comments section.  I’d love to hear them.

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Note:  This is from USB Memory Direct.  Here is 10% off code, if you wanted to try them out:  PHOTO10.  (I am NOT an affiliate and don’t receive commission from them.  Just sharing what I like!)

Back Light vs. Direct Light

My favorite time to shoot is when the sun is low in the sky.  I can shoot with the sun behind me, so the light is shining directly in front of my subjects — called direct light.  Or I can have the sun behind my subjects, so the light shines behind them — called back light.

There are also many other types of light, but today I am only talking about these two.

Which one to use is mostly about artistic preference.  And sometimes, you don’t have a choice, like if you’re shooting an event with a designated time, so it’s important to know how to shoot in both kinds of light.

Okay, with that said, I have a preference

Who knew?  Apparently, my clients!  haha.  When I’m on a shoot, I don’t shoot with my head as much as my heart, so I usually look for moments and images that tell a story or create beautiful lines and shapes.  I didn’t think I had a preference in light direction, until…

My recent Boat Shoot.  I was boarding the second boat and heard my clients tell the captain to get into a position where my clients’ boat was backlit.  The captain quickly turned to me like that must be wrong.  I just nodded in agreement and probably wore a surprised look on my face.  Gosh, my clients know me well!  :)

Here are some recent side-by-side examples of back light versus direct light (displayed in that order) of the same subjects, during the same shoot, shot within minutes apart, so you can see the differences.

Example 1

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Example 2

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Example 3

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Example 4

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*PHOTOGRAPHY TIP*

As you can see, there are significant differences between back light and direct light.

There are also merits in both kinds of light!  Back light is more moody with softer colors, but also have softer details.  Direct light has more vivid, saturated colors with greater details, but also has shadows.

If you could choose, which light do you prefer?

Personal Brand Photography

Guess what?  I now offer Personal Brand Photography!  This is THE funnest niche of business photography ever, so I am very excited.

What is Personal Brand Photography?

Think Executive Headshots on vacation.  Or Commercial Photography meets Instagram and had a baby – haha.

In a nutshell, Personal Brand Photography (PBP) is photography that produces a series of storytelling images of an entrepreneur.  It covers a part of the entrepreneur’s life while embodying their personality and includes detail shots.  Unlike a headshot session, not every image will contain the entrepreneur’s face, and you’d get a greater variety and number of images to use for your online presence.

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Who is Personal Brand Photography for?

Personal Brand Photography is perfect for entrepreneurs who want a plethora of fresh images they can use for regular posting on Instagram or other social media sites or for using multiple images on a webpage.  Entrepreneurs such as, consultants, makeup artists, stylists, bloggers/writers, social media influencers, web designers.

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Why do you need PBP?

Because doing business means connecting with your customers, and that means having photos that convey who you are, so others can relate to you and want to work with you.

Your brand needs to be clear as well as eye-catching.  Customers are more photo-savvy than ever before, and they can spot stock photos or staged photos from miles away.  Be real!

For businesses that do better with social media platforms, you have to post regularly to get traction, visibility and solid brand identification.

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How does PBP work?

Each shoot is different, and always fun.  It can be of you working or walking around town or your morning coffee routine — whatever story you want to convey.  Nothing is stagnant, so your images aren’t stuffy.

Each session includes a consultation so your shoot will be specific to what you need, unlimited images taken, edited high resolution photos of storytelling images, images of you, and detail images.  You’d also have Usage Rights of those photos, all delivered via a cloud site, so you can retrieve your images lickety-split.

The INTRO price is $750 for your first session, which is 1 hour long and will garner about 50 images.  This would provide you with approximately one image to post on social media each week for a year, or if you post everyday M-F, it is about 2.5 months worth of imagery.

Think of the Marketing boost you’d get!

Now what?

Start by booking your first shoot (do it now while it is at the Intro price!) and you can always book more later when your business needs another boost.

Or, book a few shoots throughout the year right now, so you can secure the price and dates, and we can shoot in different locations or different seasons!

How to Shoot in Low Light

I love light and airy images.

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Sometimes the weather doesn’t provide glorious sunlight like the one above.  Womp womp.  (That’s the sound of the wrong answer in those old game shows – haha!)

Maybe it’s foggy with no sun.

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Or it’s evening.

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Sometimes my shoot is indoors, and most venues don’t have glass ceilings like this one.

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In fact, some places will be dark, like really dark.  Think small apartment in the city with one window.

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Or an indoor market packed with people on a rainy day.

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Or in a dark corridor of gum.  Okay, that’s just gross.

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I took most of these example photos during my trip to Seattle a few months ago.  This is how the photography tip came to mind…

We went inside Chihuly, an art museum of glass installations, and the only lights were ones carefully positioned towards the artwork — so it was very dark.

I watched visitors photograph the gorgeous delicate glass…with flash.  They’d look at their photo at the back of their cameras with disapproval and take the same shot again.  I wished I could’ve said something, but it wasn’t my place.  So I closed my mouth and popped my eyeballs back into head, and decided to put this tip together instead.  LOL

This tip is simple and can even help phone camera photos!

*A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON*

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EXPLANATION

Image A = AUTOMATIC.  In low light, your camera will detect it is dark, so when it is in Auto, it will want to brighten the image to what it thinks the exposure should be on a regularly lit day.  By doing so, it can trigger the flash or reduce the sharpness of your photo by slowing down your shutter to attempt to let in more light.  The result = a photo I’d delete.

Image B = No flash and PARTIAL AUTO (ie, shutter-priority or aperture-priority).  I let my camera guide me to what it thought was “proper exposure” for the art installation without the use of flash.  The result was pretty good.  However, if I look closer at the image, I can see some detail of the glass was lost.

Image C = MANUAL, no flash, and slight UNDER-exposure.  To capture the most detail in the glass work and the true shade of the artwork’s color, I under-exposed the image by 1 or 2 stops.  The result is a more dramatic, striking image.

 

LOW LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

Start by taking your camera off Auto, so you have more control of the settings.  [If you're using your phone, you can turn off your flash.]

When there is low light, consider underexposing your image to get your desired result.  You can do that by changing one of the elements in the exposure triangle — such as, decreasing your aperture (increasing your f/) or increasing your shutter speed.  If you want a refresher, here is an article I wrote many moons ago (with cool drawings from my daughter):  Understand Exposure in Under 10 Minutes.

[You can even do this on your phone!  When you have the image you want to photograph, using your iPhone, touch the screen, and then carefully move your finger in a downward motion on the screen to lower the exposure.  Other smart phones work similarly and also allow for some manual setting changes.]

 

Want more tips about light?  Here are a couple more:  Low Light+No Time and Editing with Different Light Sources.

If this tip helped even 1 person, I’d be thrilled!  xo, annie

Meaning of Life

My photoshoot of Tim and Jen’s family was my last one of the year, and it made me contemplative.

Perhaps it was because I had the spirit of Christmas coursing through my veins, but I was thinking how their photoshoot perfectly culminates the meaning of life.  Let me explain.

It had been about a year and a half since I last saw Tim and Jen.  During that time, they got pregnant and had their 4th baby!  Also during that time, there were big events around us, including deadly wildfires, which made us postpone their shoot 3 times.  So this was their 4th photoshoot date!  Though disappointed, we rolled with the punches and were grateful for when we saw each other.  We even recognized a few benefits of this later shoot date:  baby Mia was more social and there were fewer people at the park.

At the shoot, the older siblings kept hugging and kissing their baby sister, unprompted.  The affection and easy playfulness between everyone was peppered by Tim’s humor, which always makes me laugh.  And my catch-up time with Jenny highlights how fortunate I am to have clients who’ve become friends.

Seeing the silverlining, spending quality time with family, loving unconditionally… this is how life should be. ❤️

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