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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Behind-The-Scenes: Crystal

Styled Shoots involve more directing of subjects, which is a fun contrast to my regular shoots (Lifestyle Photography) that are more natural-flowing.

In this shoot with Crystal, for instance, I took her into a deserted building and a cemetery ==> NOT your typical photography locations.  Some of that occurred on a whim because the other areas were occupied by another photographer.  Instead of leaving altogether, I got more creative!  It feels amazing to still achieve the quality of images I had visualized beforehand, even with the unplanned changes.  Boo-yah!

Before diving into the behind-the-scenes (BTS) images, I’d like to share a phone selfie of me and Crystal taken before the shoot, so you can see what she looks like on a “normal” day.  She is stylish, cute and gorgeous, right?!!

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And, I know you’re thinking it, so I’m just gonna come out and say it for you… I need a tan!  ;)  Alright, let’s get to it!

Behind-the-Scenes #1

I chose this area because I liked how the green in her top (it was a silk scarf!) matched the leaves in the tree, so I placed her here.  Since she has never done a professional shoot before, I gave her a branch to hold, so her hands had something to do.

(PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Sometimes hands can look awkward. They need to have “a purpose”.  Don’t just let them fall to the side.  I call that “a dead arm”.)

I also love her muscular arms and back, so finding ways to curve and bend her body highlighted those areas.  It also makes the image more editorial than headshot-y.  (Do you like my formal terms?!!)

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 400, 1/1000 sec, f/1.4, shade.]

Behind-the-Scenes #2

I started shooting her in different angles (straight on with the cemetery behind her, through the trees, etc), but none of those gave me the “wow” effect that I wanted.  I ended up moving closer and closer, and shot her from the side, as you see below.

I found the side view more flattering.  It showed off her arms in a feminine way and created a harder line around her jaw, which I liked.

Also, from this side view, I can see her wrist tattoos, which offers a visual detail that I find interesting.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 400, 1/400 sec, f/1.8, open shade]

Behind-the-Scenes #3

I could see that the sun was hitting the bush with the flowers, so I knew I wanted to shoot through that for a cool foreground bokeh.  To get into position, I am looking through the viewfinder the entire time, so I guess I ended up in a funky legs-all-twisted kind of position!  haha.

The other image (below right) shows me giving Crystal posing direction.

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What I Shot

I love this shot of Crystal.  She looks flirty and fun!  Her stance also shows off her athletic build.  (She is a volleyball athlete!)

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[Specs:  ISO 400, 1/1250 sec, f/1.4, speckled light]

Behind-the-Scenes #4

So at the end of the shoot, I looked around for a strip of light.  I visualized a dark environment with a tiny bit of light, so I could create more of an emotional, storytelling image than just “a pretty” one.

I found this strip of light inside a deserted building that worked great, however, based on how the sunlight streamed in, the light was very low to the ground.  I gave Crystal directions to sit, kick off her shoes, and bend forward into the light.  I painted a story for her so she would have “activities”, so that the image would have a story…

She was a girl at a party who stepped away from it to be alone for awhile so she could think.  The rest was up to her.  Was she sad?  Pensive?

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 250, 1/4000 sec, f/1.4,  super bright stream of light]

Then I walked up to her to get a close-up.

I wanted to highlight the shapes from the light and shadows on her face and body, so I had her body produce even more shapes by making her limbs bend and her body asymmetric.

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[Specs:  ISO 320, 1/5000 sec, f/1.8, bright stream of light]

 

If you want to see more Behind-the-Scenes posts, check out this one.  And this one.  And don’t forget this one:)

Styled Myra

I don’t want to be sappy, but sometimes I can’t help it.  When I think about Myra — my friend for over 25 years, a former roommate, a sister and twin — I sometimes get choked up.  I’d tell you more, but then I may have to find my box of tissues, so let’s skip the details of why she is an awesome human being and special to me.

Anyhooooo, she recently started a blog, cleverly titled Eat, Drink, and Be Myra (I came up with the name, so of course I think it’s clever – ha!), so this weekend, as part of her birthday outing, we did a shoot for her new business venture.

The shoot was sandwiched between giggles, eating, catching up, and eating again… our usual activities.  :)

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The Cemetery Shoot

Q:  What do you do when your cousin gets a rockin’ haircut and visits you from the East Coast?

A:  You dress her up in your clothes and take her out for a mini styled session!

Q:  What do you do when you have only 1 hour for the entire shoot, including drive time, and the location you chose already has a professional photoshoot in session?

A:  Shoot in the adjacent cemetery, of course!

I know, I know… that sounds horrifying, but it wasn’t.  I promise!  Crystal was game for anything as having a Styled Shoot was completely foreign to her, so everything we did was fun to her.  (What an awesome model to have… one who is gorgeous, fun, funny, humble AND appreciative!)

We were also respectful of the location and tread quietly around the paths.  Crystal even said “thank you” to the cemetery when we left.  Now if that isn’t  a little weird  creepy  silly  respectful, then I don’t know what is!  ;)  Love you, Crystal!!!  <3

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Behind-The-Scenes: Little Princess

As part of my 1 hour Styled Session of my 5-year old’s birthday, Ava changed into her flowy pink dress and wore a handmade glittery gold crown that I ordered from etsy.  (She wanted a Princess theme whereas I wanted The Train Station theme, so we compromised by doing both.  Actually, she had 3 outfits, but that’s another post!)  :)

The fog had rolled in, so the temperature dropped 10 degrees and the wind picked up.  I knew this leg of the shoot needed to be really quick.  It was a time to just “get the shot and go”!  We were there for about 15 minutes, including walking to/from the parking lot.

My oldest daughter held my reflector when I needed it, and she took a couple behind-the-scenes shots with my phone as you can see here.  Thanks, Mia!

Behind-the-Scenes

Ava’s dress had a gauzy layer that kept getting caught on the prickly wild flowers, so I had her stand on a stool.

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I had waited til the end of the day to get the “golden hour” light, but didn’t anticipate the fog that rolled in after we started.  With the dense fog, you can see that we were running out of light quick!

My poor girl was so cold that she used her arms to hug herself to keep warm — which actually looked pretty darn cute, so I shot through it.

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What I Shot:

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Conclusion:

You can’t always control every aspect of your shoot, like the weather.  So find ways to make the most of what you have.  Sometimes that means finding an alternate light source.  Sometimes it means shooting through the cold and having artistic “thoughtful” shots of your subject rather than “happy” ones.

Use the resources you have, think quickly, and have fun!

Train Station Shoot

This East Bay Styled Photography session was of my very own angel who just turned 5!  (I celebrate each year of my monkeys with a photoshoot.  Lucky them!  heehee.)

Here is how the planning went down…

I picked up this cute little suitcase from a local store for $10 a year ago because I thought it would be a great prop for a child’s shoot.  I then found the perfect dress while browsing at Nordstrom’s that match the ‘look and feel’ of the suitcase.  Before running out the door the day of the shoot, I grabbed my 10 year old daughter’s straw hat.

As for the location, I needed a reason for my subject to be holding a suitcase, so I thought, “Aha!  A train station!”  Then I remembered a restaurant area that reminded me of an old train station, which I drove past earlier that day.  Voila, our location!

Since this was a public place and it was a Saturday evening, we were only here for 15 minutes.

So you can see, you don’t need expensive props, a lot of time, or complicated details.  The location can be in your own neighborhood too.  You just need a vision!

Check out my little Ava who was at “the train station” this weekend…. :)

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If you liked this, then you’ll want to check out my Fairytale Shoot from last year!  It was also a windy day, but the light was completely different.  It was full-on sunshine!

Day In The Life: Chris and Sinead

When you take two gorgeous people with magnetic personalities and plop them in a distant land — let’s say, Costa Rica — they will find each other.  That’s what happened to Chris and Sinead, but even more romantic than that.

This Styled Couple’s Photography session was in San Francisco.  It started at their home, which was in the same neighborhood where I lived before I moved to the suburbs!  It was so great to do an entire shoot in this special area of the city.

The biggest treat was getting to know these two charming people who are so obviously meant for each other.  Their love was palpable.  <3

For their photoshoot, Chris and Sinead hung out at their home, dressed to the nines, and whizzed over to a few favorite spots by the way of Uber.  It was the quintessential urban photoshoot!

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Picnic by a Piazza

Lili and Eddie are more than clients.  They’ve become friends over the years.  (I’ve known them since their first photoshoot with me when Lili was pregnant with Benji 5 1/2 years ago.)

This year, I counted down the days to their shoot for the last two months.  I hopped over to them out of sheer excitement when I saw them in the parking area!  How can I explain this?  They’re the kind of people who aren’t embarrassed to show affection in public or laugh out loud.  They are passionate people with integrity and coolness.  :)  And their boys.  Oh, their boys.  They are respectful and playful and thoughtful.  I adore them!

When it came time for their shoot, we decided to have a theme that reminded them of their recent trip to Italy.  Here’s the set-up:

Stopping for a snack on a sidewalk near a piazza in Florence, reading storybooks (set in Italy), and just being happy to be together.

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The Travel Shoot

Since their Dream Shoot, Brenda and Benny wanted to change things up this year.  No more cold morning shoots!  So they were thinking the late afternoon, during the “golden hour”, and to try a Styled Shoot.  But what theme?

The F Family travel a lot.  And I mean A LOT!  It feels like every month, but I don’t know exactly.  All I know is that I have to plan far ahead if I want to see them because they may be in Europe or Asia or one of the islands of Hawaii or some other area around the globe.  With Benny in the airline industry, that’s how they roll!  Lucky, right?!!

Whoops, I digress. 

So travel was a glaringly obvious theme that clearly represents what they do together as a family.  However, The F Family had a couple major life events just before their shoot — like buying a new house — so having a styled shoot almost didn’t happen.  After a few encouraging texts (hee hee), Brenda started gathering a few travel-related items, and the props came together just in-time!

The globe is from Brenda’s workplace, the vintage suitcase belongs to a friend, the map is of their new hometown, travel books are of places they’ve been or want to go, their passports, candy and snacks are from Japan where they just visited, and even the paper lanterns have significance.  They are from Brenda’s first race with her older daughters, Brianna and Bailey!  They played a food game too, which was to represent Brenda’s profession as a Food Scientist.  Oh, how I love Styled Shoots and this family!

[Fun fact:  Brenda is one of my best friends for over 20 years, so this isn’t just any Styled Shoot, but a Styled Shoot of one of my besties and her family!]

Scroll down to take a walk into the Redwood Forest with The F Family…

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