Best Maternity Photographer of 2018

I love photographing baby bumps and expectant parents, but KAWABUNGA!!!  I was handpicked for the 2nd time by over hundreds of amazing photographers in the San Francisco Bay Area as one of the Best Maternity Photographers of 2018.

*picking up jaw off the floor* is a resource site that provides a carefully curated list of top service professionals in 1000+ cities around the country.  They considered not only imagery, but also reputation, credibility, expertise, availability and professionalism.

Wow.  I am honored and humbled!

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Here are both badges since I didn’t get to post about my first award by Expertise 2 years ago:




Some may think it’s a “pregnancy glow”, but I think it’s a glow from being Christine.  🙂

I had never met Christine til the day of her shoot, and right away, I could see she had a personality that glowed from the inside.  You know what I’m talking about!  She smiled a lot, had the kindest eyes, and was thoughtful to strangers around us at the park.  I found myself hugging her, like I had known her for years.

On top of that, she had the cutest baby bump that, even at 37 weeks gestation, you could only see when she stood sideways.

Daddy-to-be, Kevin, was funny and cool.  He had the kind of dry humor that I love from growing up in the East Coast.  I had a really fun afternoon with these two, and I know they’ll be wonderful parents to their little one.


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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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Images that Sing

Even in complete silence, I sit here and look at these images taken from Sunday’s mini shoot of Thaomy, a radiant pregnant yogini, and I hear music.

The music is soft and slow, but the sound is clear as day.  It is lovely.  And it makes me happy.



Leaving New York Behind

Yesterday’s maternity photography session in San Francisco felt like the middle of Winter.  Of course it was sunny and hot everywhere else.  Sigh.  That’s San Francisco Summers for ya!

Good thing Renuka and Sandeep, a sweet couple who moved here from New York, have embraced all aspects of San Francisco living!

Despite the strong winds, heavy fog and cold temps, we still had a great time.  Renuka was such a trooper… she climbed up walls and sandy hills, laid on grassy slopes near bees and stood by warehouses where drivers oogled her.  She was open to doing anything I envisioned, and I love that!  And she was incredibly agile for someone who is 32 weeks pregnant!

Here is a sneak peek…



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Maternity Leave (sort of)

I am officially on Maternity Leave from client photoshoots (not product-fulfillment and other business stuff) until May.

I almost don’t know what to do with myself on weekends without my client photoshoots!  I’ve been fortunate to have been booked solid for 9 straight months — every Saturday and Sunday from May 2009 through January 2010.  Sigh… I already miss my clients!

Well, I now have time to finish my website work.  I’ll also have some fun marketing campaigns that involve giveaways and contests, so make sure you are a “Fan” of Annie Tao Photography in Facebook and continue to check back on this blog!

Last weekend, I was incredibly fortunate.  I got together with two talented photographer friends, Kim Sayre of Mill Cottage Photography and Amy Shat of Oaks and Acorns Photography, and they shot my maternity portraits!  This was my first time doing a professional shoot where I was in FRONT of the camera, not in the back, shooting other people!  What a strange experience.

Luckily, I had Jenni Huse of The Powder Room do my hair and makeup to make me look my best, even when I wasn’t feeling it from being in the last stretch of my pregnancy.  She was great.  I highly recommend her for weddings and other important events!

Here are a few photos of my urban maternity photoshoot…


Photography by Kim Sayre

Editing by Kim Sayre & Annie Tao


Photography by Kim Sayre

Editing by Annie Tao

Annie Tao Maternity Session

Photography by Kim Sayre

Editing by Annie Tao

To see a few more images, check out Kim Sayre’s blog about our shoot together.

I’ll share a couple photos from Amy Shat once I get my hands on those!  It is always fun to see how different photographers capture the same subject.

The Only Child, But Not For Long

Happy Independence Day!

This morning’s photoshoot was with Nathan, who is 2 years old and will be a big brother in about 2 weeks!

His mom, Alice, warned me that Nathan is “high energy” and said it is “close to impossible to get him to pose for a photo”.  Ahhhh… I love a good challenge.  🙂

FYI, I never asked Nathan to pose, but I played with him instead — as did his parents — and I captured those images.  It is only when kids can be themselves that their faces light up with fresh expressions.

Check out some of my favorites from today’s family and maternity photoshoot…

Striped Popsicle

I love this photo of Nathan peeking in between the trees.  The way his head is cocked to the side and one hand is gently placed on the tree is so sweet.  I also love the soft diffused sunlight on Nathan’s hair and the stripes of color in the background, which look like a giant popsicle.  You know, the ones that have stripes of color, like red, white and blue!


Father and Son

The innocent look on Nathan’s face is priceless.


38 Weeks and Counting

I love the flowers in the foreground, the ridiculously green grass, the pronounced belly from Alice laying on her back and Alice’s sweet smile.

Even when I was taking these photos of her, I can imagine these photos as canvas-wrapped fine art galleries hanging in their bedroom!  They’d be gorgeous.


Feeding Go-Go

Go-Go, which means “dog” in Chinese, is Nathan’s favorite toy.  Go-Go is having a snack with Nathan.

(Apparently Go-Go eats blueberries through his nostrils!  Hee hee.)


Look Over There

I LOVE this photo.  I love it so much that I plan to add this to my portfolio… some day when I have time, that is!

I think it’s partly the composition:  Nathan and his dad are on two equal halves of the photo, looking in the same direction.  And I am taking the photo from the ground, so I get the underside of James and his finger runs off the page.  Then there are 2 focal planes:  Nathan in focus and James completely blurred out.  Love it.

I also love the expressions on their faces.  You can almost hear Daddy James directing Nathan to look in that direction, and Nathan’s curiosity is painted all over his face!


Flare and Angles

I enjoy playing with light and capturing images in various angles to get a different perspective of a seemingly mundane image.  In this photo, James is holding Nathan (a simple everyday activity), but the photo is artistically beautiful with the flare from the sun and the upward angle.

Also, because I was doing all sorts of funny things with my camera, Nathan kept following me with his eyes, so I captured these wonderful photos of him looking directly at me.

This was taken at the end of the photoshoot, and Nathan was tired.  I love how you can tell every emotion of young children just by looking at their faces.


Some Favorite Family Shots




Nathan’s Close Up

This is my favorite series from today’s shoot because this series shows Nathan’s personality.  And I love how his eyes are the main “subject” in the photos.  Even in the photo where he covered his face, you just want to see his eyes!

They say the eyes are the windows to your soul.  Especially in that first photo, I understand why.

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Alice, I hope your delivery will be easy as pie and I look forward to your next family photoshoot… as a family of FOUR!

If I Go Into Labor During The Shoot…

Lili is due any day now.  When she booked her session with me, I didn’t have any sooner openings, so I told her to keep the baby cooking in time for our photoshoot!  🙂

She wanted to capture images of her family — in its natural state — as a family of three… knowing that her family will be dramatically different once Baby is here!

Here are some of my favorites from today.  I had so many, so this is just a few…

Meet Sam

This little guy is 21 months old and soon-to-be a Big Brother!


Meet Sam’s Google Bear

His lovey, a teddy bear, wore a Google shirt…  well, sort of!  😉


Don’t Go Into Labor During The Shoot!

Lili is one model mama and oh-so strong!  She was able to run after Sam, hike in the woods, climb up and down the longest flight of stairs in San Francisco, and pretty much do everything any triathlete could do!

She also had a great attitude because the night before our shoot, I suggested that we switch locations to one that is flat for ease of moving around, and she responded with:  No, I’ll be fine hiking a little.  And if I go into labor, then that’ll be kinda cool!


Come Over Here

I love this family shot because Lili and Eddie look so darling in the background, and you see Sam’s mischievous look in the foreground… so you pretty much know he’s not heading towards his parents!

Ah, two year olds!  (I know about them because I have one too.)


Yoga Baby

Lili’s Baby Boy is a Yoga Baby!  I think prenatal Yoga is terrific for pregnant mamas’ physical and mental health.  Plus, it helps connect you with your baby spiritually.  (I did it with both my pregnancies, and not only loved it, but it also made labor easier.)


All Belly

If I had to draw a cartoon of Lili, I’d draw a big circle (her belly), a little circle on top and 4 thin sticks coming out from the large circle!


Come Now, Baby… I am Ready!

Lili is so cute here.  She is yelling out for the baby to come.


Urban Family


And I will end this post with a funny photo….

Run Google Bear, Run!

When I saw Sam running up the hill with his lovey, I knew I wanted to capture the back of him and his shadow.

I love that the focus is on the shadow and Sam is running off the page.  And by capturing the back of Sam and Google Bear, it highlights how Google Bear is traveling!  Poor Bear.  😉


Beauty and the Belly

Happy Mother’s Day!

I had a wonderful day today.  It started off with a homemade breakfast by my husband and a bunch of drawings wrapped in paper from my 4-year old daughter, Melia.

Then I was out the door 10 minutes later for a lovely photoshoot of Lisa who is 30-weeks pregnant with twin girls!

Not only is Lisa an incredible-looking pregnant woman, but also… she is ALL BELLY!  Thin arms and legs with a bump in the middle.  Hence, the title of this post:  Beauty and the Belly! 😉


Lisa got this beautiful henna tattoo on her belly.

Let’s see if I can remember the meaning of the symbols… I think the vines represent the connection between her and her babies, and the rabbit represents a fast and easy delivery!  We joked about how she will go back and get a family of rabbits tattooed on her belly!


This is one of my favorite shots.  Where’d her feet go?  (I’m sure Lisa is wondering the same thing!)


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Lisa and her husband, George, have this undeniable connection.  You can see it in her face when he talks to her and when he kisses her.  Her face just illuminates.


This is a wonderful series of her laughing.  There were a lot of jokes flying from the peanut gallery (aka, George)!  😉

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I thought of this pose as we entered the house.  I love playing with light and patterns.

The shape of the door frame, the reflection in the glass, and the sunny outdoors with the darkness of the indoors made this irresistible to me.


Happy Mother’s Day to Lisa and all of you Super Moms out there!


My long-time friend from Cal, whom I call “Mamacita” (not just currently, but for many years now), is el prego with her third baby!  Woohoo!  Here are some of my favorite photos from her photoshoot today.  (I couldn’t wait to look at her shots and am eager to post right away.  These were taken this morning!)

This family shot is all about Togetherness…


Here’s Mamacita B!  Isn’t she gorgeous?  She is 32 weeks along… hard to believe, huh?!!  She looks like she’s only 5 months pregnant.  I made her jet out her belly a little and also use her hands to accentuate the roundness of the belly.  If she didn’t do those things, she would just look like me after a big meal!  Okay, more like me after Thanksgiving.


Benny was such a good sport during the photoshoot.  For someone who doesn’t like photos very much, he did great!  This photo is so sweet.  And I love Mamacita’s expression.


The girls were hilarious.  We told jokes and played games during the family portion of the shoot.  This moment is classic!  Children’s photography is so much about capturing the moment.


I love these 2 photos below, and they look so interesting side-by-side:  A top-down and a bottom-up view!  One highlights Mamacita’s smiling face, the other highlights her belly.  In the second photo, I focused on her rings, which she just happened to clean the night before.  Tee hee.  You can tell, too!  Talk about bling bling!

For these shots, I carefully looked for areas with the perfect lighting.  What I was searching for were areas with bright sun, but soft, that were also spotted with shade.  I purposely wanted only certain aspects of Mamacita ‘lit up’.  This creates more artistic maternity portraits, in my opinion.  I love playing with light.

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In this garden shot, I especially like how she’s standing with one arm down and one hand on her belly.  The natural smile on her face is so sweet, and I love the soft lighting.  It’s all about the lighting!  Also, the bushes near her casted dark shadows against the tree, which really made her stand out in this photo.  I couldn’t have set this up better, even if I had artificial lighting.  Of course I made Brenda walk around a bit to “find the light”.  (Thanks, Mamacita, for letting me tell you what to do for an hour!)


If you’ve been a client of mine, you know that your photoshoot does not have a definitive “start” and “end” time!  Just when you think it’s over… AHA!  I snap a few more shots!  🙂  That’s just my style.  If I see a shot, I take it, no matter what time my watch says.  Some of my favorite shots from client photoshoots have been taken during the last few minutes.

This photo below was taken of Brianna in the street!  We were at our cars and saying our goodbyes, and then I spotted this vintage trailer parked on the street.  So of course, like anyone who sees a trailer in the street, I had to take photos there!  This photo shows only a tiny smidget of the trailer (one large wheel), but it creates an interesting shape and gives the image more texture.  You see just enough to wonder about its story.  “Where is she?”  “What is she doing?”  I love it.  (For Photographers:  I applied a ‘rusty’ effect to this image to make it look more grunge-y.)