Commercial Photography: Pinewood 2

There are many niches in Photography.  I have to say, I absolutely LOVE bringing my Lifestyle twist to Commercial Photography.

When I visited Pinewood School’s Lower and Middle Campuses last week, I had between 15 to 30 minutes per area to photograph it.

For 7 1/2 hours, I was on high alert for all things beautiful:  smiling faces, focused students, engaged instructors, good light, colorful backdrops, special moments… Details that represent student life on campus.  I was also constantly looking out for things to avoid, like distracting elements on students and in backgrounds.

I had limited time to get the shots that tell the story of the schools and minimal ability to set things up as these were actual students in their classes.  It was nonstop excitement.  My adrenaline is pumping just thinking about it!

Lower Campus (Grades K – 2)

Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-school-girl-students-dancing-on-stage  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-school-Principal-talking-to-students-in-garden




Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-education-Kindergarten-teacher-at-reading-time  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-school-boy-thinking-at-desk







Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-student-using-smartboard  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-group-of-students-using-iPad


Middle Campus (Grades 3 – 6)





Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-student-holding-her-books  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-school-student-talking-to-other-boys











Commercial Photography: Pinewood 1

When you’re a parent, you want the best for your children.  Choosing a school can be so hard because we know that a good school is beyond lesson plans and grades.

It was my pleasure to return to Pinewood School’s Upper Campus (Grades 7 – 12) to photograph their new programs, campus changes, and the delightful student body!

Below is a sneak peek of my day there.  And if you missed it, you have to check out their football practice photos!


Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-student-with-hair-bun-at-lunch  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-student-wearing-senior-shirt









Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-high-school-boy-looking-into-microscope  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-high-school-girl-with-green-jersey


Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-high-school-science-class-experiment-with-bunsen-burner  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-high-school-science-class-female-student-putting-on-goggles


Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-laughing-girl-wearing-lab-coat  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-boy-wearing-lab-coat-in-Science-class



Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-students-following-along-on-iPads-while-teacher-uses-Smartboard  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-male-student-smiling-in-class


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!

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-farmer-holding-a-peach-at-Berkeley-farmers-market  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-farmer-bagging-fruit-at-Berkeley-farmers-market

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.


East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-mother-and-daughter-tasting-fruit-at-Berkeley-farmers-market  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Berkeley-farmers-market-cherry-tomatoes



East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-young-girl-holding-radishes-at-Berkeley-farmers-market  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-young-girl-holding-a-red-onion-at-Berkeley-farmers-market



East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-famer-weighing-fruit-at-Berkeley-farmers-market  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-customer-paying-for-produce-with-market-match-scrip-at-Berkeley-farmers-market





East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-family-shopping-at-Berkeley-farmers-market  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-family-shopping-at-Berkeley-farmers-market-2



How Your Subject Feels


Portrait Photography is not only about having CAMERA skills, but also PEOPLE skills — specifically, knowing how to make her subjects feel comfortable during a session and guiding them into the most flattering light and positions.

Here is an example from the other day.  I had an Executive Headshot session, which is typically 30 to 40 minutes.

The first set of images below were images taken in the very beginning of the shoot.  They are nice portraits and, for some photographers, the session would have ended right there.

Instead, we kept going and after some talking (for fun, not about the shoot) and some guidance… the images went from “nice” to “LOVE!”

First Few Shots ==> Nice

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-executive-headshots-woman-in-black-suit-serious  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-executive-headshots-woman-in-black-suit-smiling

Shots Later On ==> Comfort ==> Gorgeousness

Taking aside the difference in the background and jacket, just look at her face.  Even her eyes are smiling!

You can’t instruct someone to “look relaxed” or “smile with your entire face”; they do that when they feel at ease with and trust the photographer.

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-executive-headshots-woman-in-red-suit-small-smile  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-executive-headshots-woman-in-red-suit-smile


How your subject feels during the shoot ends up being attributes a viewer perceives when they look at the photo.

Just look at the comparison below.

When you look at Image A and Image B, you may feel different things about their abilities, their competency and even their personalities.  And they are the same person!  That is the power of a headshot.

Who would you hire?  Who would you call?  Who would you prefer to work with? 



That doesn’t mean the last few shots are always the ‘money shots’.  Some photographers may choose not to take a single image until their subject is relaxed and ready.

For me, I go right in and start shooting because I think the longer people wait, the more anxiety or nervousness may build.  Then I talk to them and guide them throughout their session.

We all have different styles, but the goal is the same.

A Change is Coming

A change is coming to the corporate world in terms of photography.

Businesses are moving away from stock photography for their websites and marketing materials, and corporate head shots are also getting a makeover.

The new chapter for head shots is to have them look and feel more personable.

From a marketing standpoint, you want to know whom you’re going to work with when you look at a photo of someone. You don’t want to see a person standing or sitting in front of a sterile blue or stark white pop-up background, for instance.  Nothing stiff or stale.  You also don’t want to see a low quality selfie taken with a phone.  There’s nothing professional about that.

This morning, I photographed these two men in the lobby of a hotel.

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-corporate-headshots-man-with-goatee-2  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-corporate-headshots-man-with-newspaper-1

This is what it entailed:  They brought their morning coffee, their smart phones, a newspaper, printed workflows and a pen.  Then they chatted with each other across the table.

The result:  relaxed and natural head shots.

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-corporate-headshots-man-in-lavendar-2  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-corporate-headshots-man-with-goatee-1

By the way, this was my other view:  a cute little girl playing with my iPad!

My littlest monkey came with me to this super short shoot.  (Can you say that 10 times fast?!!)  I am the luckiest girl to get kisses during the shoot and get to hold her hand afterwards.  :)


Sunrise Shoot

For goodness sake, I am not a morning person.  Wait, where’d I put my coffee?  ;)  Okay, let’s continue…

So why do a shoot at sunrise?  For many reasons!  Here are a few examples using images from my Commercial Shoot last Sunday…

To get outdoor images without cars and people.


To capture a building’s lighting of signs and storefront.  These lights are usually in key places and give an added dimension to photos.  They are usually automatic, just like with streetlamps, so once it is bright enough outside, they go dark.


To get even lighting outdoors.  There are no harsh shadows or blown-out details from the strong sun.


East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-outdoor-sign  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-client-waiting-with-her-dog

To capture images of the beautiful day break.


Notice the amazing horizontal light on the bushes?  LOVE IT!

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-sunrise-on-walk-path  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-french-bulldog-on-the-grass

To capture animals and people in their freshest, calmest state. 



East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-vet-holding-guinea-pigs-after-exam  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-technician-holding-an-exotic-lizard




Next time, find out what time the sun rises in your city and bring your camera!

Commercial Photography: Bishop Ranch Vet

Animals and children are a lot alike.  They can be shy, curious, excited and playful!  They all have unique personalities.  They all have a story.  And they all need boundless love, warmth and companionship.

That’s why a pet owner’s veterinary choice is so important.  You choose one whom you trust… one whose primary concern is getting your baby well from an illness or injury and helping them stay healthy.  The staff at Bishop Ranch Veterinary and Urgent Care are all of these things!

In fact, my husband and I brought our little Henry there for many years until he passed away last year.  We received enormous support there, beyond what we expected.  So when Bishop Ranch contacted me about a photoshoot (not knowing I had been there before), I was elated.

It wasn’t my intent, by the way, for this blog post to sound like a client testimonial!  haha.  Raves naturally poured out when I had to think about what to write!

Anyhow, see for yourself.  Below are a few images from last week’s Commercial Photography session.  You can feel the pride in the staff and that there is care and love all around!

East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-brown-dog  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-black-and-white-dog-before-an-exam


East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-kids-play-area  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-technician-talking-to-client-in-lobby


East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-technician-checking-ferrets-ear  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-bird-getting-weighed




East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-beautiful-bulldog-at-the-hospital  East-Bay-Commercial-Photography-San-Ramon-Bishop-Ranch-Veterinary-curly-hair-dog-during-ear-checkup









Tammy Brawner Styled

Styled shoots are like chocolate to me.  I enjoy every morsel of it, want more of it afterwards, and love it so much I feel a bit guilty afterwards.  It is THAT good!  :P

My last shoot of the year was a styled shoot of a talented athlete, Tammy Brawner of the Harlem Globetrotters!  Wearing jersey #6, she is best known as “T-Time”.

My goal was to show Tammy’s versatility because, when off-court, she can look commercial, editorial AND high fashion.

Check out the different “scenes” at the beautiful mansion at Elliston Vineyards…

The Bedroom

The Parlor


The College Campus


The Fashionista Outdoors


The Iron Castle

Venue:  Elliston Vineyards
Makeup:  Jasmine Davis
Hair and Styling:  Brittany Thomas
Photographer:  Annie Tao

Equipment info:  Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4, reflector

Health, Safety, Education and…

When it comes to children, there is nothing more important than health, safety and education… except happiness.

I had the privilege of spending the day at Carden Academy for a Commercial Photography shoot last week.  I witnessed the most amazing thing:  students here enjoyed learning through creativity, faculty commitment, and innovation.

Teachers were passionate about teaching.

Small group learning meant more time with the teacher to learn at your own pace.

Students were excited about learning.

Creativity bubbled over into self-expression and individuality.

There were iPads for each student for research, note-taking and learning.

All of this breeded enthusiasm, participation and excitement.


The result:  HAPPY students.

That is definitely something to cheer about!  :)

End of the School Year

A few days ago, I photographed a High School graduation.  I’ve been to Pinewood School before (click here to see some photos).  It was so great to be back!  There is an energy here that is hard to describe.  Let’s just say, when the faculty talked about the students, it sounded like they were talking about their own children.  <3

With other photographers there to capture the formal shots, my focus was to capture the graduation in a photojournalistic style.  (Focus, get it?  Yea I know, it’s late.) 

Now onto the good stuff.


The end of the school year means more than just empty halls.

The end of the school year means…


Unwavering Support


Inner Reflection

Tears of Joy

…and maybe sadness too.



Congratulations to The Class of 2013 at Pinewood School and other High Schools! 

What an amazing achievement!  I tip my hat to you (I really am wearing one right now) and say, “WOOOHOOOOOOOO!”  :)

I wish you much success and happiness in all that you do.