Urban Senior Portraits: Jalin

High School Seniors are a special breed because it is their last year before they venture into the World as adults.

This High School Senior is no ordinary one.  I’ve known Jalin since she was a little girl.  (Her mom and I worked at the same public school in San Francisco way back when!)  I love the first shot of her gazing towards the sunrise as the dense fog rolled towards her and the aluminum chairs are arranged haphazardly.  It shows how she is calm and fearless while looking straight at her future, which is bright, even when things are uncertain around her.

Jalin’s shoot was so much fun because, on the outside, she looks like a model, and on the inside, she is this fun, gracious, compassionate person I’ve always known her to be!  ❤️

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Styled Shoot: 50 and Fabulous

I love the colors of this photoshoot.

I also love vibrant personalities, women who are strong yet kind, and people who can have fun and laugh in pretty much any circumstance.  That’s Ria.  And this fabulous person is turning 50 today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RIA!

Ria’s styled shoot took place at her home, where her heart is — aka, husband José and doggy Riley.  ❤️

There were so many cool textures, prints, and colors that I had to include a bunch of detail shots!  I hope you’ll enjoy the sneak peek.

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Styled Shoot: Woodland Nymph

Lifestyle Photography is my jam, but from time to time, I like to stretch my creativity by telling a visual story through a Styled Shoot.  Let me tell you one:

According to ancient Greek mythology, there lived a beautiful nymph who preferred the company of her imagination and nature more than the company of other people, so she built a house in the woods and lived alone.

She picked berries and washed them with river water before eating them one by one while lost in her own thoughts.  The isolation meant being alone, but she never felt lonely.  She felt…

Free.

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Holiday Music

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Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la!

A random fact about me:  I love listening to Christmas music.  I will turn up the volume and belt it out.  If you’re in my car, I will insist that you sing with me.  I can listen to it throughout the year, not only in December.

But what if your season ISN’T jolly?

There is nothing jolly about my heater breaking the other day and it was only 35F degrees out — and I have 3 kids and a puppy to keep warm.  I was struggling to stay sane with my husband, Lawrence, away on another business trip.  This past year, I had some health issues, which has effected us emotionally and financially.  And every Christmas, I feel the void of my dad’s passing because this was the holiday when I’d see him.

Well, get this…

I still love listening to holiday music even though it may sound contrived when there are things I’m worried/stressed/unhappy about.  You know why?

Because every Winter, there are cheerful holiday songs playing on the radio.  No matter what.  That reminds me that time never stands still.  Things are ever-changing, and that includes how we see things.

We had warm clothes to wear when the heater went kaput.  Whenever my kids found out I was cold, they’d rush over to hug me to keep me warm!  Lawrence travels frequently for work, but he always returns home safely.  I found some great doctors who helped me with my health issues.  And although I wish we could be spending the holidays with my dad (or just have my kids and Lawrence meet him!), I know that it was his sudden passing that gave me the kick in the pants to change my career to one that makes my heart happy.

The songs remind me that things will be okay, so why not be joyful.  Be thankful.  Be good to others because some have it worse than I do.  And enjoy the little things because time continues to move, and you don’t want to find out that the ‘little thing’ was actually a ‘big thing’ and miss it.

So last Sunday, I had my last shoot for 2016 with Leonard, Gabrielle, Christian and Livvy.  It was a Styled Shoot with a Winter theme, so we had it at a Christmas Tree Farm.

Everything about it makes me want to belt out holiday music.  <3

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The Apple Boy

For my son’s 9 year old birthday photoshoot, he wanted to be an apple.  Seriously.  An apple.  I don’t know why.  He thought it’d be fun to dress as an apple and act out a story.  As a mom photographer, I have to just let him run with it because hey, he wants to do a Styled Shoot, so who am I to squash his creativity?!!  Not I, said the photographer.  Not I.

So enjoy Ian’s story about The Apple Boy:

Once upon a time, there was an apple.
The apple loved being an apple, but he wanted to see what else was in the World. 

First he hitched a ride on a wagon.  After it stopped, he carried his apple friends to escape from the scarecrow.
After resting on a hay bale, he looked at the other apples and realized he was very different from them.  He was a boy!
He then saw a bear coming towards him!
Since he knew he wasn’t actually an apple, he wasn’t afraid.  He just walked over to the bear and fed him.

The boy now made a home at an apple farm with the bear as his pet.
And he lived happily ever after.

The End.

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In Awe of Kina

When you think “kid”, you think about how cute they are when they learn something new, like ride a bike or learn to read.  Skip.  Brush their own teeth.  Maybe even do a cartwheel.

But then there’s Kina.

Seeing Kina move in her poetic, effortless, athletic way… I forget she is only 12.  Twelve!  All I see is a talented dancer.  Like a seasoned athlete, Kina was able to make mesmerizing shapes during her photoshoot with the challenges nature and I gave her…

Fit inside a hole in the rock, make inspiring shapes, and don’t mind the red fire ants.  Done.  Climb to the top of that giant rock, go to the edge, and create interesting lines…oh, and try not to fall to your death.  Check.

And when we hopped over to location #2 for some grassy, playground photos, the sun had disappeared and the wind picked up, leaving the temperature 25 degrees cooler.  And she was in a leotard.  Dance elegantly and pretend you’re not freezing.  I was shivering.  For Kina, no problem.

The part that gives me butterflies and makes my eyes water (they’re leaking as I’m writing this) is that I’ve known this amazing person since she was a baby!  She was the cutest little chubby-cheeked baby with a full set of dark curly hair.  Now with her talent mixed with hard work and dedication, she is dancing with the best of them and learning from famous choreographers.

I am in awe.

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The Wishing Shrub

For my Mia’s 11 year old shoot, we chose to concentrate on her love of creating with her hands, reading, and creative writing.

So she made 11 cranes out of origami paper — one representing each of the years of her life.  Then, obviously, we turned one of our hydrangea shrubs into a Wishing Shrub.  :)  Mia carefully placed each crane while thinking about the meaning of each year.  With the last crane, which represents this upcoming year, she made a wish.

Afterwards, she hung out on our swing bench and read a story she wrote.

It was so… “her”.   <3

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When I Grow Up

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I remember crying in Kindergarten when my teacher insisted that each student announce what they wanted to be when they grew up.

I was a shy child whose parents split up when I was three and we moved around a lot, so talking in front of a group was far from being ‘fun’.  (By the end of Elementary School, I couldn’t stop talking, so there was a weird life symmetry there!  ha!)  Anyhow, I remember thinking to myself, “How would I know what I want to be?!!  I am only five!”

The result of the silence and all eyes on me:  tears.

Fast forward to 6th grade.

It was a similar situation, but this time, the teacher asked us to think about what we wanted to be when we grew up.  This time, I did.  I put a lot of thought into it.  I had friends who named the profession of their mother or father.  Some wanted to be what they considered a ‘hero job’:  a doctor, a firefighter.  For me, I had always loved Art.  Always.  Yet, I thought being an Artist meant standing on a sidewalk with my paintings and hoping to sell something, so I could have money to eat!  Thus, Art was never something I considered as a plausible career.

Instead, I came up with two things.  I was 11 years old, and I knew I wanted to be…

A mother.

Happy.

I’ve always loved kids and thought the coolest thing in the entire World would be to be a mom.  To have kids.  To hold babies.  To love them unconditionally.  To teach them skills and help shape them to be confident and good people.

And happy.  I didn’t know what job I wanted.  I didn’t think about income, industry, or position.  I didn’t care about the details.  I just knew that whatever my career would be, I needed to be happy.

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So going full circle here, I am now a business owner of something I am passionate about:  creating art.  I am also a mother of little humans who test my patience sometimes (haha), but they make me grow and learn and teach.  They make me want to always see the World as a silver lining, to find good in people.  I can humbly say that I am happier with them in my World.

Thank you — yes, YOU — for sharing in my journey!

Now why on Earth am I thinking about all this?

Well, my littlest monkey just turned 6 years old.  (These photos are from her 6 year old photoshoot.)  She is in Kindergarten, and I remembered how I was asked that question when I was her age.  Unlike me, however, Avie knows what she wants to be when she grows up.  A singer.  Well, not any ordinary singer.  A Singing Baker.  So in a few years, if you hear about a bakery that just opened up where the baker sings, you’ll know it’s my child!  :)

When I grow up (hey, I’m still growing!), I want to be where I am now.  But just older.

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Favorite Images of 2015

Votes started coming in the minute I posted these albums onto my Facebook business page!  Thank you to all who chimed in.  It is always a lot of fun for me to see what people like because there are always a few surprises.  This is me when I’m looking through the votes:  “Ooh, interesting…why this one?!!  Wait.  What?  Why not this one?!!”  hahaha.

Without further ado, check out the results of people’s favorite images — as of today (voting is continuous).  The #1 images in both categories, however, won by landslides, so those are pretty secured in their stately positions.  :)

MOST DELICIOUS LIGHT OF 2015

Photos considered in The Most Delicious Light category were images where light played a significant role in the overall image.

#1

The sweetness of this mother-baby moment wouldn’t be the same if the sunlight was “hard”.

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#2

The golden sunlight warms this engagement hand-holding image.

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#3

Found an abandoned farmhouse for this shot!  Love the thin stream of hard light.

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#4

The sunlight is what brings attention to the streamers and her face…and creates even more JOY in the image.

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Tied for #4

Love how the sunlight points out the boy’s long baby hair and lit up the tree in the background.

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BEST MOMENTS OF 2015

A “moment” can be a split second in time, or it can be a moment that tells a story — whether sweet, emotional or humorous.  Or all of the above!

#1

Dancing with Dad

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#2

It LOOKS like candy.

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#3

The laughing rocker and her sister.

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#4

The moment you help your brother fly like an airplane and the wind blows your hair into beautiful lines in the sky.

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#5

Contrasting layers of an emotional human interaction with a city reflection.  Soft and hard.  Warm and cold.  Curves and hard lines.

[This image also won the "Everyday Life" photography contest with iheartfaces.com in March 2015!]

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Want to see more?

Here is the entire selection of images for The Most Delicious Light of 2015.
Here is the entire selection of images for Best Moments of 2015.
Favorite Images of 2014
Favorite Images of 2013

Eggnog and Cookies

How do you  make  bribe  encourage your kids to get along, look happy, AND look natural in front of your camera when you photograph them all the time and they are not having any of it???  You work the entire shoot around drinking sweet thick eggnog and eating fresh out-of-the-oven, melt-in-your-mouth gooey chocolate chip cookies you made from scratch.  That’s how!  :P

So for my Styled Christmas Shoot of my kids, I am proud to say that all my props (excluding ingredients for the food) cost $8.  The basket, bottles and straws were in the dollar section at a local store.  The baker’s twine I already had, and the large glass bottle was a gift.  Clothes were a mix of things we already had and a few items that tied everyone’s colors together.  Total cost was $50.

The reason why I’m mentioning this is to show that you don’t need to spend a lot to have props in your shoot.  Props can provide you with something to do, something to hold, and basically, a reason to not look at the camera — in addition to providing a secondary purpose, like being good bribery material (hee hee).  [To see another Styled Shoot created on a dime, see my Train Station Shoot.]

Happy holidays to you and your loved ones this holiday season!

xo

annie

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