Festival of Lights

{Diwali:  A holiday known as the Festival of Lights to celebrate victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance.}

From planning this shoot with Renuka a year ago, I’ve learned so much about Diwali; and the more I learned, the more emotional I became.  This holiday spans beyond ethnicity, religion, or culture.  It’s about human kindness, community, our connection to one another, and standing together for what is right.

Photographing Renuka and Sandeep’s Diwali celebration was nourishing to my soul.  It’s something I will never forget.

I could feel the boundless energy as guests arrived.  Throughout the evening, one by one, candles were lit on the diyas, rangolis, and alter.  They provided a feeling of peace and hopefulness for our future and the future of our children. ❤️


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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

San Francisco Hotel Vitale: Sherie and Jeff

When you combine Love + Admiration + Respect + Laughter + Fun, you get Sherie and Jeff.

How do I know this?  By the way they look at each other a few seconds longer than with anyone else.  The way Sherie talks about Jeff’s hearty laugh.  The way Jeff places his hand on the small of her back when they walk.  The way they are comfortable when there are quiet moments.  The way they find humor in the small things when they are together.

It was a true joy to meet these two people who are clearly meant for each other, and it was an HONOR to photograph their special day!

Getting Ready





Mom’s Little Girl

At the Bar

The Venue

The First Look


The Ceremony

Mr and Mrs Spence



Congratulations, Jeff and Sherie!  Now begins your beautiful journey together as Mr. and Mrs.!   xoxo  ~annie

Wedding venue:  Hotel Vitale

Bride’s dress:  Marisa

Bride’s shoes:  MICHAEL by Michael Kors

Florist:  Gingerleaf Floral

Hair and makeup:  Violet Prather of The Makeup Dolls

Photographer:  Annie Tao

Published in Brides Magazine

Wow.  What a privilege to have my work featured on BRIDES magazine!  BRIDES is one of the World’s largest bridal inspiration destinations.  *goosebumps*

My favorite passage in the feature: 

Angela had two goals: to stick with decor so timeless, she wouldn’t cringe when she flipped through her wedding album decades later, and to incorporate elements both of her Chinese-American heritage and Jacob’s Dutch roots. Throw in some genius desserts and a string trio, and you’ve got one of the sweetest weddings we’ve seen all year.

Alright alright.  If you twist my arm, this is my second favorite part:   🙂

Angela’s advice to future brides? “Find a photographer you absolutely adore and trust. We gushed over the photos of Annie Tao, our photographer, for five years before I even got engaged!”

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Martinelli Event Center, Garre Winery: Angela & Jake

Sure, it was 106 degrees that day, but when I look at photos from Angela and Jake’s big day, the only heat I feel is from their flames of love!  (I must’ve had an extra helping of cheese today ‘cuz I’m extra cheesy!)

Angela and Jake’s Bay Area wedding was set in the hillside of Livermore Valley.  Everywhere you turned, you would find pale pink ribbons, a sea of beautiful lace, roses, peonies, all things sweet, vintage details, artful DIY projects and plenty of love for the happy couple.  I could feel it.  Love was everywhere.






With hundreds of images to choose from, it is nearly impossible to narrow them down to a sneak peek.  I was up to 40 images.  That may be a TAD too many, don’t you think?  So you’ll have to wait for the full gallery, Jake and Angela!  CONGRATULATIONS, again!!!

Wedding Venue:  Martinelli Event Center

Wedding Dress:  Monique Lhuillier

Wedding Shoes:  Jimmy Choo

Hair and Makeup:  Elizabeth Chang at Skyla Arts Makeup & Hair

Floral Decor:  Delford West Flowers

Wedding Photographer:  Annie Tao

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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.


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Move Over, Martha Stewart

The decor, the food, the adorable details were handmade, home-cooked and made with love.  Move over, Martha Stewart!

Today’s San Francisco Bay Area Event Photography was for a birthday party of a sweet little girl whom I met this Spring.

(Click here to see photos of “Little Pineapple Bun”.)

Tasty Treats

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Meet Martha…I mean Emily!  🙂



Jules Coloring


Bedroom Fun

Who is having the most fun here?   Tee hee.


The Cousins


Did you do a double-take on his eyes, like I did?!!  They are fantastic!


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Happy Birthday, Jules!


The Birthday Cake

Here is Jules with her first birthday cake.

Minute 1…. “What am I supposed to do with this cake?”


Minute 4… poke poke.


Minute 7…  mmmmm.


Minute 15…


The Aftermath…


Happy VERY FIRST birthday, Jules!

May your year be filled with cool adventures, incredible growth, good health, and lots and lots of love and kisses!

I hope to see you in 2012,

Your very own paparazzi – Annie

To The Nines

*deep breath*

My good friend, Ivan, whom I’ve known for almost 20 years tied the knot to the love of his life this Labor Day.

Their wedding was decked out to the nines with details at every turn, DIY crafty delight and raw emotion.

Both Irene and Ivan looked marvelous, as expected, but the most attractive “accessory” they wore were the giant smiles on their faces!





[Note:  I was a guest at Ivan and Irene’s wedding and not the wedding photographer.  These are my images, taken as a guest.]


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In all my years of knowing Ivan, I have never seen him smile like that before.  It makes me so happy to see and brings tears to my eyes!

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…with details.


My message was:  laugh everyday.


Enjoy a mint julep…


…and “leaf” a fingerprint.



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ivan &irene,

may your days be filled with tender kisses, open hearts and kind eyes.  i love you both!



DIY Ice Cream Stand Birthday Party

I attended and photographed a very special event this past weekend.  It was a birthday party of my very own little monkey who turned 4!

It was a challenge to come up with the perfect theme because Ian wasn’t in love with any particular activities or sports — unless doing things-you’re-not-supposed-to is an activity!   😉

So one day while showering (is that TMI?!!), I remembered how Ian and I play Ice Cream Stand and Lemonade Stand at home.  Sometimes with real food items and sometimes with plastic toys or cut out drawings.  (When they are real food items, we actually give him money!  He comes up with the price, sales tactic and marketing, aka a beautiful sign, so I figure a quarter is worth rewarding his entrepreneurial spirit.)

Once I had a theme, everything else just fell into place!


Ian and Mia helped paint and decorate the stand.


The entire stand is DIY a la my husband!  I drew a picture of what I envisioned and he did the rest!  My only requirement was that it can be disassembled.  I was, and still am, utterly impressed with how it turned out!

Most of the pieces are from Lowes and things we already had in our house, like the antique white paint and the wooden crates.

I have always wanted to put lanterns up in a tree for photos, but I decided on these colorful flowers from Oriental Trading Company, which were more unique and cost only $6 for a dozen!

My chalkboard from Holly McCaig Designs was the perfect finishing touch!


It was a sunny and hot day… perfect for a pool party with an ice cream theme!


Ian took his role seriously.  He took everyone’s order, instructed his patrons where the toppings were and was very polite.



There were toppings to suit everyone:  fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries), crumbled cookies (Vanilla, Oreos), traditional toppings (sprinkles, chocolate syrup), and cereal.

Not all toppings are shown here.  I was busy enjoying the party.  It’s tough to be the mom of the birthday boy, the host of the party AND the event photographer!  🙂



I bought retro bendy striped straws with accordian flamingos for ice cream floats.  Who knew straws could be so festive and fun?!!

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You know you’ve enjoyed your ice cream cone when there is evidence on your chin, in your hair and on your shirt!  Tee hee.


Happy 4th birthday to my sweet boy and funny monkey, Ian!!!

I know I can’t stop you from growing up, but I can take lots and LOTS of photos to capture all your stages.  I love you!!!



Ria & Jose, San Francisco Wedding Details

Alas, I have more time to post photos from Ria and Jose’s wedding 2 days ago.  [Click here to see part 1, their Old Hollywood shots.]

This wedding was a photographer’s DREAM.  Take all the fun things to shoot — the ceremony, wedding details, and styled bride and groom portraits — and voila, my wedding shoot for Ria and Jose!

Throughout the planning process, Ria and I exchanged numerous emails about inspiration ideas, accessories, props, attire, location.  It was exciting to see everything evolve and then get to shoot the wedding 2 years later.  Thank you, Ria, for trusting me with such a special life event and involving me in the whole process!

Some Details

Ria’s bouquet from Floral Ornament was so lovely!  I think peonies are my new favorite flower after seeing this bouquet!

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When you don’t know which shoes to wear, wear both!   🙂


A gorgeous vintage headpiece to spice up a timeless, elegant 3/4 length wedding gown


A handmade boutonniere and a vintage 1960s bow tie


They thought of every detail, even Jose’s argyle socks!


The Paper

For extra special occasions, I think it is nice to get a shot of the day’s newspaper to show the date and the headlines of the day.

For the birth of my kids, I like to keep the newspaper of the day they were born.  I’m kind of sappy, huh?!!


This editorial shot looks like it was taken in the 1940s in a lobby of a hotel.



Sharing a shake at a diner is oh-so romantic!




Ria and Jose had a black Town Car on their wedding day.  It felt like a Batmobile bec it zoomed all around the city quickly and effortlessly.

The driver of this Batmobile was really friendly, and we found out he got married not long ago in the same place as Ria and Jose!


Love love…


Fave Editorial Shot

Let me explain why I like this shot bec it may not be obvious…

1.  The similarity of body positions between the man walking by and Ria.  They both have their head forward and a leg bent.  It creates parallel (crooked) lines, which is visually interesting.

2.  The clash of outfits.  Ria and Jose’s vintage-inspired wedding attire is classic!  Then you have that man’s outfit, which I also love:  a rainbow cap, yellow jacket and skinny jeans.  He gives the image a hint of pure whimsy.

3.  There is a nice balance in this shot.  The man is walking away on the left side while Ria and Jose are standing on the right side of the frame.  There are still subjects and moving subjects.  There is something set-up (Ria and Jose) and something candid (man).

Finally, I processed the image to give it a vintage flavor, which I think fits this shot so well.  Ooh, I want to make this into a card to send to everyone!


Lastly, here’s a quick story I have to share!  It made mama so proud.   🙂

When we were taking photos inside City Hall, someone asked Ria, “Where do you want to go now (for photos)?”

Ria’s answer:  “It depends on the light!”


Bride’s Wedding Gown:  Nordstroms Wedding

Groom’s Wedding Suit:  Paul Dione Classic

Bouquet:  Floral Ornament

Hair/Makeup:  Renato Herico of Star City Salon

Car:  Red Tie Transportation, driver Giovanni

Bride’s Headpiece:  Vintage Pale Blue Ribbon and Organza Fascinator Headpiece from Kisses from Ana

Cream Shoes:  “Cheesecake” by Shellys London, purchased from Anthropologie

Green Shoes:  “Heather” by Miz Mooz

Handmade Flowers:  Etsy Champagne Mum Flower Bridal Shoe Clips by C Shiver

Boutonniere:  Preppy Chic Boutonniere by Pixel and Hank

Bow Tie:  Vintage 1960s Brown Stripes Bow Tie from Raleigh Vintage

Groom’s shoes and argyle socks:  Cole Haan