Love Is…

When I started my photography business 10 years ago, I thought my job as a Lifestyle Family Photographer was to capture the family’s story.

I was wrong.

I am not capturing any story; I am capturing the family’s definition of Love.

If you ask people to finish the sentence “Love is….”, the variety of answers will probably surprise you.  Love can be physical affection to some — the kisses and embraces they give and receive.  Love can be the unwavering support they receive when life feels uncertain.  Love can be lifting someone higher when they’re soaring and holding their hand when they fall.  Love can be many things.

Last weekend, I photographed The K Family’s “Love is”…





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[If you want to see how The K Family’s “Love Is…” has changed through the years, check out their first shoot, or this one, ooh or this one, or whoa – I almost forgot THIS one!]

Simple is Best

One of the life lessons my father instilled in me was:  Simple is best.

This is relevant in so many ways, including photography.  I had a couple years where I picked up trendy props and backdrops for indoor shoots.  What I found was my most favorite shoots were rarely when things were complicated with over-thought details.  My favorite shoots were usually when the location was simple, props were few, and my time together with my subject(s) was easy-going and free-flowing.

Take for example my shoot this week of my Mia who just turned 12.  (I do a photoshoot of each of my monkeys around their birthdays.)

We didn’t have anything particular in mind, other than Mia requested that her shoot be short.  (*ehem*  I will try not to take that personally.  smh)  We picked out her outfit just before we left, I told her to brush her hair, I made sure there was still battery life in my camera, and we headed out.

The area I had in mind for the shoot was under construction, so I kept driving.  After a bit of driving aimlessly purposefully, we stopped at a red light near a strip mall (classy, I know) where there was a parking lot and an unkempt hillside behind a row of bushes, which appeared to be planted to keep people out.  So obviously, I saw that as an invitation to climb over.  ;)

Voila, my mini shoot of my sweet Mia!

THE TAKEAWAY:  Sure, you should plan for your shoot, but you don’t need to overthink it.  Sometimes, my dad is right… simple is best! ❤️

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Bathtime Shoot

I am slowly accepting the fact that my kids will continue to grow up (as much as I’ve resisted it – haha), so I wanted to capture my youngest the way she is right now for her 7 year old birthday photoshoot!  A Lifestyle Shoot will be a departure from the last few years of doing Styled Shoots — like the Train Station Shoot and the Fairytale Shoot.

When Ava is at home, you can usually find her sitting on my lap, snuggling with me, singing me a song, playing with me, or being busy right next to me.  She’s my small, cute shadow.  Thus, I realize a “regular day” would be difficult to photograph unless I shot through mirrors or with a selfie stick!  haha.  So I narrowed down the shoot to bath time!

Bath time would show how she is in-between the stages of “little kid” and “big kid” because she can do everything herself, yet she still finds bath toys and bubbles fun.  Some things I wanted to capture:  she started wrapping her hair in a towel; she lost her 4th baby tooth a few days ago, so now her smiles have holes; she has creations displayed all around, like her Dr Seuss-inspired Pig In A Wig doll; and she loves singing and dancing right after a shower or bath.  With a hairbrush.  And the towel still on her head.

I am thrilled with how the images turned out and wish I could share more images with you, but thinking into the future, I want to respect her privacy and don’t want to embarrass her, so I can only show you a few select ones.  You’ll get a feel for it though!

Happy birthday to my Ava Bear.  ❤️

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This is me with my Warriors shirt and messy ponytail.  I know, my bathroom has kids stuff E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.  C’est ma vie. 

By the way, if Ava wasn’t in a bathtub, she’d be right there at my side, probably hugging my hip while telling me how pretty I look (even when I am looking ragged and tired).  Or she’d probably stick one of her little fingers in a ripped hole of my jeans and giggle.  :)


Embracing Lines

Have you ever noticed how many LINES there are at the playground?

From years of shooting, I — regardless of whether I want to or not (haha) — notice lines, patterns, light and shadows wherever I go.  If you see me checking my watch, it’s most likely because I am memorizing the time I should shoot in that location because I like the light!  If you see me squatting down, it’s probably because I noticed that a lower perspective changes the lines of something I’m looking at, or I like the way the light hits something from that angle!

Sure, that’s a little wacky, but as one of my favorite cartoon characters would say:  I yam who I yam! 

That brings me to my periodic quick tip!

Look out for lines.  Embrace them in your photography.  Once you really, truly notice them, find ways you can incorporate them into your photograph.

This can be at any location, but during a recent shoot, we stopped by the park’s playground for the last half hour or so.  It was really fun to let the kids run around, and everywhere, I saw lines, patterns, and light.

Below are some examples.







Morning Ukelele

When you’re a few months shy of being three, a FABULOUS morning is one that begins with a ukelele performance in front of your favorite people, mama and dada!  After a short ride in the city, you get to chase birds, watch boats, and shop.  You end the morning by devouring a chocolate cupcake by the waterfront.  :)

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Tina and Aunkur:  thank you for sharing your weekend with me and for allowing me to capture a slice of your life!  xoxo  ~annie

Favorites Images of 2016

I’m a month late to post this, but some say “better late than never”, so I’m going with that!  ;)

Thanks to those who voted for their favorites.  We have the results for the two categories!  The top 3 winning images for Best Moments won by a large majority, but this year, we had many Firsts…

It is the first year many of the top images were very close in The Most Delicious Light category.  It is also the first year where more than one photo from the same shoot won distinction in the same category.  (You can see all the images in each category if you go to my FB page.)


A “moment” can be a split second in time, or it can be a moment that tells a story — whether sweet, emotional or humorous.  Some images could fall into both categories of “moment” and “light”, so the decision was based on the weight each factor had on the individual image.


Loving sisters



Three granddaughters



Running on a bridge



Laughter is the best medicine



Mom will always be your first love



The icy bay



Photos considered in The Most Delicious Light category were images where light played a significant role in the overall image (i.e., if the light was different, the quality or feel of the image would change).


Nature’s Spotlight


Tied for #2

Soft diffused light on the soft flow of her hair





Golden afternoon in the park



Early Morning Glowy Sunlight


Tied for #5

The multitude of circle bokeh and slightly overexposed image makes her look like an angel.


Morning Light in the Kitchen



Sunset and the Golden Gate Bridge


Curious about past winning images?  Grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy:
Favorite Images of 2015
Favorite Images of 2014
Favorite Images of 2013
Favorite Images of 2012.

Laughter in the East Bay

I first met this adorable couple in 2012.  Renuka sported the cutest belly bump and together with Sandeep, we ran around a breezy San Francisco for their Maternity Shoot.

Now, five years later, they’ve moved to the East Bay (wahoo!) and have two kids!  We caught up during their updated photoshoot at a park in their new neighborhood.  Between laughing with Renuka and playing with Anamika who kept saying, “Miss Annie!  Miss Annie!”, I had a blast and almost forgot I was there for work.

Yup, taking photos of awesome people in amazing locations is my job.  Don’t hate.  ;)


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Huxley and Wesley

Huxley and Wesley became brothers last September.  They live in San Francisco with their parents, Alyson and Matt, and enjoy taking walks around the neighborhood, even though Huxley is the only one of the pair who knows how to walk right now — on four legs too.  Huxley loves Wesley so much that he shows him through wet kisses.  Everywhere.  :)

Now check out my first client shoot of the New Year!

It’s a Lifestyle Shoot of a gorgeous family in their beautiful home in my favorite city in the World. <3




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Rainbow Bubbles

For a Lifestyle Shoot involving bubbles, having THE sunniest day in December was more than ideal.  It didn’t even feel like Winter.  And the sunlight created magnificent rainbows of color in the bubbles!

His parents, Peter and Sophia, took him to their usual park destination to do some of his favorite activities:  walk (and run!), blow bubbles, examine fountains, lean into mom for extra cuddles, look at dinosaurs, and step on lights that are on the ground.

I had such a nice morning in San Francisco — made even better with nice clients and a 2-year old cutie who kept saying “Annie!  Annie!”  :)



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Gold, Mushrooms and Trolls

Olivia and Emma had an adventurous morning with their parents.  They hunted for gold, explored a forest to find mushrooms, and avoided trolls at the bridge!   :)

There was also a lot of hugging, kissing and hand-holding, which made it a perfect way to spend a sunny morning after days of rain showers.



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