When Your Heart is Full

When your heart is full, you allow yourself to feel a wider array of emotions — and you approach life with more confidence because you know everything isn’t always perfect, but everything is the way it is supposed to be.  Man, I should’ve been a philosopher!  ;)

Tim and Jennifer seem this way to me.

Their photoshoots are always filled with emotion that make me want to find reason to hang out with them even longer just to be around that kind of energy.  Even when there is no activity and everyone is calm, there is tenderness and love radiating from them.  It really is beautiful to see and photograph.

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Relaxed Headshots

Julia and Aaron needed headshots for work, but not stuffy ones — so I pulled them aside at the end of their Landfill Shoot.

We walked to an area between the water, parked cars, and large shipping containers (seriously!) where there was diffused light.  The light was so pretty there that I widened my scope to include the kids.

These relaxed headshots are more like relaxed portraits.  Ahhhhh…

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For more information about taking headshots, you can read A Change Is Coming and How Your Subject Feels.

Or if you just want a LAUGH, you can read about doing headshots of my Worst Client!

The Landfill Shoot

When you think graffiti, landfill, broken toys, old bottles, and rusty abandoned bikes, “This would be a great location for a family photoshoot” isn’t usually what comes to mind.

It did for Julia and Aaron though, and I’m so thankful for that!  Add bright sun and strong winds to all of this, and you get a hefty challenge that made me excited to dive into.

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This little nook is a place Julia and Aaron visit with their furbaby, Georgia, who loves to explore the bend of a hidden path or dip into the bay.  It is where David finds cool sticks and climbs trees with his dad.  It’s where Samara collects wildflowers and draws patterns in the dirt.

Just like life, Art is how you interpret it.

The location was nature’s playground and a haven for modern art created with everyday items.  The sun was a warm blanket on an otherwise cold day.  The family treated their shoot like a regular weekend day, and that allowed for sweet organic moments to unfold.  ❤️

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Pink Peonies

When Jeff found out they were having a baby girl, his heart melted.  He had always wanted a girl!  ❤️

So their first photoshoot with their new baby girl was in a flower garden while mommy Louisa and baby Kate wore pink and Jeff and Jacob wore blue.  It was symbolic and colorful, both perfectly fitting for their location and meaning.

Why the name, Pink Peonies?  They’re my favorite flowers.  I saw them at the garden and did a muffled squeal as to not totally embarrass myself — haha.  Well, that and the fact that Louisa and Kate looked like flowers in the garden with their pink outfits!

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“Eye” Do

When you are at Optometry School at UC Berkeley and a professor announces that two people in that room will get married, you don’t think he’s serious — and in the slight chance he is serious, you don’t think that would be you.

But it is.

So you say “eye” do (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) with your grad school sweetheart, have two kids, and return for a family shoot in Cal colors, of course!  ❤️

It is always fun to visit my alma mater, but to do it with nice, cool people and their kids who love me…. it makes me run-dance to meet them and skip back to my car when we were done.  Thankfully, at Cal, no one even noticed!  haha

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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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*BEHIND THE SCENES*

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.  :)

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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!

PHOTOGRAPHY 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.

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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