Ode to Black and White

I was about 19 or 20 years old when I became serious about photography.  I scraped up money to buy my first SLR camera, which was thrilling to achieve as a poor College student.  My preferred film was a roll of BxW Ilford 400s.  The following Summer, I took a film photography class at UC Berkeley, so I could learn how to develop/print my own film and have unlimited access to the darkroom, which absorbed a good part of that year.

BxW can look really moody, which I love, but that’s not what draws me to Black and White (BxW) Photography.  I think it’s because BxW is more challenging to shoot.  It forces me to look at the World differently.  I have to pay closer attention to lines, textures, backgrounds, expressions.  In color, you don’t notice that level of detail as much; instead, you appreciate the feeling of the light and the hues and shades of all the colors.

In BxW, you strip everything away and are left with only the bones of the image.  It is raw.

The first few years of my professional photography business, I shot a mix of color and BxW, but at some point in my career, I found myself shooting almost entirely in color.  It was a slow, but distinct evolution.  In self-reflection, I realize the change was based on a number of things — mainly that many clients preferred color over BxW and I grew to have a ‘signature style’ with how I edit my color images.  They are creamier whites and sunnier shades.  Hey, I like happy photos!  🙂


I still love Black and White Photography.  With a passion.  So here is a post dedicated to only BxW photos, as an ode to my first love. ❤️







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Commercial Photography: Commure

Photographing a start-up company for launch is unlike a regular Commercial Shoot.

There is an air of excitement at the office when all the long hours and late nights of hard work are finally making a debut to the World.  I photographed anything and everything, from the company culture to headshots of the leadership team to the physical office space.

Being there for 2 half-days as a “fly on the wall” was soOoOoOoOo fun — mostly because the people I met were hip, friendly, and brilliant-minded (what a great combination), but it was also because they occupy this spectacular mid-century modern office space in Downtown San Francisco.  Oh, and they have a furry four-legged employee named Oscar!

Commure is a technology company that accelerates healthcare innovation.  It was in stealth mode when I had my first shoot there, so I couldn’t post anything, but now I can, so woohoo!



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The leadership team


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Together Again

Janet loves the San Francisco Bay Area so much that during a visit many years ago, she decided to move here.  Her love for the Bay Area is still immeasurable, so she chose a special location for her shoot (a precious gift from her sister Julie) that faces her beloved city.

Even with high wind weather advisories, Janet and her family didn’t let that stop them from having a memorable afternoon.  Their son had recently returned home after being in the Peace Corps, so they had all they needed:  their family.

They were all together again. ❤️


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Best Moments of 2019

Based on public voting, here is Part Two of last year’s favorite images.

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



While standing on a bench, Brother puts his arm around Sister and Sister takes his hand — to push it off her shoulder, so she can continue jumping (teehee) — but when you’re this age, these are flashes of time that are both sweet and funny parents will remember.



When you want to take a Couple’s Photo, you are guaranteed to have your little ones disrupting your moment in the funniest way.


Tied for #3

The moment your swim-loving dog decides to shake off all the water during a family portrait.


Two girls smell the same flower among the tallest bushes show the size of the girls and the tightness of their sisterhood bond.



The way the son melted into his father shows that love will get you through any struggle, including being homeless.  [Commercial Shoot]



The moment your dog wasn’t invited to join the family smoothie toast.


There always seems to be a dog in people’s favorite moments!  Check out last year’s results:  Best Moments of 2018.

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Most Delicious Light of 2019

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



The contrast of the little girl in bright yellow running down the pier that is blanketed in dark fog and lined with serious early morning fishermen wearing dark clothes was a photographer’s dream come true.  The lighting and colors tell a powerful story even without any faces shown.


Tied for #2

Backlight not only gave this mom and toddler a halo effect, which made this moment even sweeter, but also lit up the colorful leaves in the background.


We were packing up at the end of the shoot and see THIS LIGHT! The bushes are right next to the parking lot, so I shot it at a low angle to not get the cars.


Tied for #3

The ultimate combination of dense fog and colorful trees with Autumn leaves makes this image soft and moody.


The reaction of these sisters playing in this walkway was highlighted by the soft light in the center of the image. I shot this from behind bushes and trees to get a natural frame of dark green.


Tied for #4

This commercial shoot image of a real student studying in the library (hey, I was stealth – haha) was one of my favorites that day because of how the window dispersed light in the dark room, like a nucleus of a cell, so I centered my subject.


This was a sweet big brother moment where he held his little sister who was afraid of the scary grass, but it was the sunlight that makes this image happy. In a different light, the same image could appear gloomy and sad, thereby telling a different story.



The way the sunlight lit her while she was laughing makes this an image of joy.



A zigzag walkway, tall grass bending in the wind, brothers making moose and bunny ears on each other, happy parents, and the orange-pink glow from the wildfires reflecting in the fog makes this a visually unique image.


Want to see more?  Here is last year’s results for Most Delicious Light of 2018.

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The Last Shoot

You know that saying “Go big or go home?”  Well we chose the first option for my last shoot of the decade!

This lifestyle shoot involved stepping across a narrow cliff, climbing on rocks while holding a camera in each hand and in rain boots, and standing in a creek.

Unlike my usual lifestyle session where I move around without much awareness of my environment (the reason I prefer to wear boots to my shoots!), I needed to be keenly aware of my surroundings!  If I wasn’t, it could mean falling off a rock, slipping into the lake, stepping in poop, hitting my head on a branch, running into a tree, or brushing up against poison oak.  It was adventurous and, honestly, just a regular weekend for The Franks!

Their pup, Georgia, must have known we were “going big”, so she made sure to create one of my favorite family portraits EVER!  See if you can figure out which photo it is below.  🙂



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Lucky Duck

Once upon a time, a photographer was on a shoot that had her laughing so hard, her cheeks hurt!

Her clients were so cool and funny that even mid-shoot, she made a point to stop and appreciate everything.  She photographed kids who arrived revved up to play and beautiful parents who had the best blend of organized and relaxed that 2 hours disappeared in a blink.

The location had diverse backdrops, two climates (freeze-your-bum-off and almost-warm — haha), and multiple types of light.  There was also a lone black duck who followed the family and photographer around like an extra on a movie set!  There was hot cider, loud animal sounds, a vista that overlooked the bay, and lots of embracing, carrying, and chasing to keep warm.

This photographer is so lucky.

I never would’ve believed it when I was in my 20s and working late into the night at a corporate job, but this lucky duck is ME! ❤️





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All You Need

LOVE is all you need.

Rain or shine, locations with events being held or not, their lifestyle shoot was going to happen no matter what.  And it did.  Their positive attitude was rewarded by the rain halting, the sun peeking, a group of Santas running, and a family of seals swimming by us.

We were able to gallivant outdoors, and the Youssefs kissed, marched, danced, and hugged in the best city in the World, their home.  The Youssefs have the kind of love that I can capture easily like sonnets flowing into a poet’s pen.

Even if it had ended up raining, we would’ve been fine.  We already had all we needed.  ❤️


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Commercial Photography: Today’s Language

Today’s language of creativity is coding.

One of the most revered innovators in the World, Steve Jobs, said:  “Everyone should know how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”  And that is why The Coder School is expanding across the country faster than you can…  Look, there’s another one!  (See what I mean?!! 🙂 )

This is a sneak peek from this week’s shoot at The Coder School in San Mateo.  It is the first location I’ve seen with a floor-to-ceiling photo from my first shoot with them in Berkeley.  I loOoOoOoVe it so much!  ❤️


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Just for fun, I HAVE TO share some quotes I found that made me laugh, and laughing is good for us!  🙂

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job.  Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”   ~ Bill Gates

“If at first you don’t succeed.  Call it Version 1.0.”  ~unknown

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Looking Forward

When clients tell me they look forward to their photoshoot every year, I may respond with a calm “oh, that’s so nice”, but what I want to say is:  “SQUEEEE!  ME TOO!  ME TOO!!!”

Shooting repeat clients through the years means catching up with friends, watching their kids grow up, visiting their new homes, hearing about transitions like new careers, and getting to bond with their little ones.  So every year, I can’t wait!

Last weekend’s shoot with Christine, Kevin and little KJ was like this.  At one point, Kevin said to his now-talking-and-running toddler, “Auntie has known you your ENTIRE life,” it made me chuckle since he is 23.5 months old — but it’s true.  I first met them at Christine’s maternity shoot and now, I could see KJ’s personality emerge, and it is so cool!  Already, I know he is enamored by cars and trains and everything-construction.  He likes things in their place, including trash in the cans.  He is polite and a great sharer.  Daddy is his best friend and mommy gives the best cuddles.  Whenever I walked away to shoot from behind something, he would get up to look for me.  He loves knowing where everyone is at all times.

By the end of the shoot, we became buddies (heehee), and I am already looking forward to seeing this darling family next year!  ❤️



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Some behind-the-scenes shots of me and my buddy:  🙂

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