Photographing Images With More Pizzazz

DPS just published my latest article, and I am excited to share it with you!

I’ve been doing this lesson for decades.  Yes, THAT long!  :)  It has helped me see plain, everyday things differently.  Does this translate to my Lifestyle Photography?  Yes, indeed.  And now I’m sharing my secret lesson with you!

[NOTE:  You do not have to be a Professional Photographer to gain from this 10-minute lesson.  I was doing this well before starting my own business.  You can be at any level, be any age and have any type of equipment.]


Improve Your Portrait Photography in 5 Minutes

Here is a short article with tips to consider the next time you are photographing people…


How To Photograph Shy Adults

Here is an article I wrote for some of my readers who read How To Photograph Shy Children and asked for tips on photographing adults!  See?!!  I listen!  :)

This article was published on DPS barely a day ago, so I am happy there are 4900+ shares already.  I love when my tips can help others.


Food Photography Tips


Does this photo make you want to eat it?

Food Photographers think this way.

Food Photography can be simple to quite complicated where there are Stylists involved to glaze and spray and even use tweezers to carefully place each crumb!

I admit I can never be a Food Stylist because I find the natural crumbs and even sauce splatters appetizingly beautiful.  I also can’t be a full-time Food Photographer because I don’t have the self-control to walk away without tasting it!  (I love Food, what can I say?!!)

Here are a few basic tips to get you started with Food Photography…



1.  Watch your angles.

Take a top view then a side view.  Variety is the spice of life.  (Spice, get it?)

2.  Minimize what’s in the frame.

You don’t have to get too fancy with what is under, behind and next to the food item.  Let the food be the star.

3.  Use natural light.

Food looks better in natural light, so take the shot during the day and set the food near a window.  Make sure you turn off the indoor lights, so there isn’t mixed lighting on the food.

4.  Prepare it to be eaten. 

When you are photographing food, it can help to prepare the food like you are ABOUT to eat it.  Sometimes seeing a piece on a fork or a heaping spoonful makes the food look more scrumptious!

5.  Consider the ingredients.



I recently baked banana blueberry bread.  Instead of photographing it as a fully baked loaf, I sliced it to cool (photographed it) and then plated it (and photographed it again).  I also photographed some of the ingredients, like the locally grown blueberries right after I washed them and the two perfect organic brown eggs.  The dough mixture even looked good to me because it had chunks of fruit, so I photographed that too.

Do any of these images make you want to eat it?  I know MY answer!  Mmmmmmmm….






Bay-Area-food-photography-Banana-Blueberry-Bread-cooling-and-cut  Bay-Area-food-photography-Banana-Blueberry-Bread-cooling-topview


Ready for a Bite


As a reward for reading this far (haha), here is my recipe.  It is seriously delicious!

Annie’s Blueberry-nana Bread


Butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting the loaf pan
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed to yield about 1 cup
1 cup of fresh blueberries


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3″ loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon).  In a large bowl, beat the wet ingredients (sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla) until blended.  Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended.  Gently fold in the bananas and blueberries at the end.  Careful not to over-blend.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 55 minutes (times may vary slightly depending on your oven).  You can check by using a toothpick and inserting it into the middle of the loaf.  If it comes out clean, then the loaf is done.  Set the pan aside to cool.  Then remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours.

Enjoy with your favorite beverage!  And don’t forget to share.  :P

The Impact of Small Changes

In case you missed this quick tip on my Facebook page, here it is…


These 2 images were taken 2 seconds apart.

There is a HUGE difference between the two, yet I only made ONE TINY change.  What did I change from Image A to Image B? 

[Hint: It is the same location.]



When you want “good light” for Portrait Photography and the light currently isn’t ideal, you have a variety of options, such as use a reflector, change locations, and hold a diffuser above the subject — just to name a few.  However, you don’t always have those options available because of any number of reasons (ie, not enough time, your subject is fast-moving). 

So what can you do?  Consider that SMALL changes can offer BIG results as well! 

In this example, I used the same camera, lens and settings.  I didn’t introduce anything or take anything away.  Everything was the same, except…

I had my subject turn slightly where she was sitting.  That was it! 

Changing the angle of the light source to the subject changed the quality of light on her face.  Booyah!


Hey!  If you don’t want to miss any photography tips, make sure you “like” my FB page!  When I think of a quick tip, I post them there.

Don’t forget to say hi when you’re there!  ~annie

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.

Understanding Exposure

An article I wrote for DPS last month was just published, and overall, it seems to be helping a lot of people who are ready to take their photography skills to a new level.  And THAT is exciting!!!

Once you have a basic understanding that Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO work together, you can control the look of your images!

This article was written for beginners, so if you’re an advanced photographer, keep flipping and I’ll chat with you later.  :)


[Note:  The adorable fish drawing that illustrates Aperture was drawn by Mia, my super creative girl who was 8-year old at the time.  She also came up with the term "Moonglasses".]

Tips for Lifestyle Newborn Photography

I wanted to share an article I wrote that was published on DPS today.  It’s Newborn Photography with my LIFESTYLE twist!  Yeeha!

I’m a city girl, but thought the “yeeha” was appropriate for some odd reason.  :)

Anyhow, if you photograph babies or are about to have a baby and want to do a newborn shoot, you’ll wanna read this.  Enjoy.


The Power of Perspective in Photography

I have had this article topic in the works for probably 2 years!  That’s taking procrastination to a whole new level!  Oh boy.

Well, as they say, better late than never, right?  ;)  Hope this article (not the procrastination) will inspire someone.  Happy shooting!  ~annie


If you don’t read DPS (Digital Photography School), you should go check it out!  It’s one of the top Go-To websites for photographers who want to keep learning!

Interesting Locations (Part 2)

My list of interesting locations where I’ve had client photoshoots continues!  Click here to see Part 1.

[Some of these images have my old logo as the watermark.  Sorry for the inconsistent branding in these 2 "Interesting Location" posts.  I don't have the time to redo all of them with my new logo and thought you wouldn't mind too much.  Thanks, guys!]

Train Station

Train stations are great photography locations when you are with kids who love them.  You can watch the trains go by….



…or walk on the tracks.  (Just listen out and be careful, if it’s an active track.)









Tunnels have great light.  You can shoot people inside for a silhouette or just outside the tunnel to light them up.



If that’s where your little one wants to hang out, then that’s where I’m gonna shoot!  :)


Garden Nursery






Teams of Architects put a lot of thought into the design of school buildings and campuses, which make schools a great place to have a shoot!

It could be a small school…

East-Bay-San-Francisco-children-photography-school-themed-styled-shoot-girl-holding-books-closeup  Bay-Area-Los-Altos-Commercial-Photography-Pinewood-School-Lower-Campus-Recess-girl-twisting-hair


…or a large university.

San-Francisco-Bay-Area-Palo-Alto-lifestyle-family-photography-family-walking-on-a-road  San-Francisco-Bay-Area-lifestyle-photography-family-at-UC-Berkeley-Sproul-Plaza-flyers


Ice Cream or Gelato Parlor


Farmer’s Market



Be it a bookstore or an antique store, you can get unique images from the colors, textures and natural props.

DSC_7447bg  San-Francisco-lifestyle-children-photography-girl-in-a-bookstore-BxW



Next time you are deciding on a shoot location, you may want to think beyond the typical ones.

Let me be clear.  There is NOTHING WRONG with shooting in a place that is considered “common”.  I love shooting in parks, gardens and client homes!  My point is, don’t be afraid to mix it up once in awhile.  Step out of the norm.  Be adventurous. 

You may find that you love it.  I know I do!