My name is Annie Tao. I am a photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in lifestyle photography where you get to play, hang out, and be yourself. I capture the moments, real emotions and stories that occur during our time together. Check here often or subscribe to my blog (RSS feed) to see what I am up to or get creative inspiration. Thanks for visiting!
Sometimes life throws you curveballs. You go about your day and suddenly, something unexpected happens and you’re forced to sink or swim. Afterwards, you can choose to reflect on what happened and learn from it, or you can push it into the deep recesses of your mind and go on your merry way.
This Father’s Day weekend, my father-in-law was in the hospital, needed emergency surgery and had to be in the ICU. It was not only stressful and caused us to worry, but for me, it also revived a frightening memory of when I was at the hospital with my father who passed away. No way could this happen to both my dads!
Today, I feel incredibly thankful for his daily recovery, good medical care at the hospital, and our ability to be with him during this time.
I learned from the two experiences that I am not a bystander when a loved one is in the hospital. I make sure I understand the process and communicate with the doctors. I also learned that when you think there is nothing you can do, there is a power in prayers and being surrounded by loved ones.
This brings me to this weekend’s family shoot. I have known The C Family for about two decades. (I had their shoot on my calendar for many months and decided not to tell them about my father-in-law until right before we were leaving as to not worry them.) As expected, our time together was a breath of fresh air. Watching Marissa coloring with her mom in the warm breeze, Sam cuddling with her puppy, Alex and his father racing each other, and the kids catching bubbles IN THEIR MOUTHS reminded me that life, though rough at times, is about togetherness and that happiness, when stripped down, is made up of “small” things.
I love this family. I am so lucky to call them my friends. And I hope that when things get busy and life throws me more curveballs, I will remember to take a page from their book… and eat bubbles.
If you are a parent, you undoubtedly know what I mean when I say a lot can go wrong when you have a toddler, like sleep schedules, disinterest in staying still, and injuries from just learning to walk. Add to that, a location you are determined to have for your shoot, but is reserved all day for a wedding — well, you are now adding a measure of risk to an already delicate situation.
So when I tell you that all the stars aligned for this weekend’s Lifestyle Family Photography session, I mean it! We ended up hedging our bets with the location by switching the shoot to early morning. The morning lended us a beautiful white light and also ensured that we had the location to ourselves (and that we wouldn’t get kicked out)! Jacob, who usually wakes super early, decided to sleep in the morning of the shoot, but did wonderfully! And his usual disinterest of a park after 15 minutes was nowhere to be seen.
This is what a toddler shoot looks like when all the stars align…
The first time I met this family, I found out I was allergic to bee stings. That was not the kind of buzzing excitement I was aiming for, but their shoot turned out nicely. For their second shoot, which was this past weekend, I am relieved to announce that there weren’t any bees in sight!
Some of my favorite family photos of David and Annie and their boys, Alton and Caden, are of them walking amongst the trees. You can see one of these shots at the end of this post.
Why is it one of my faves?
~ Mature trees have such interesting and unique shapes, so they can provide great texture to an image.
~ They can also block the direct sunlight, so you get a softer light on days the sun is blazing like it was this weekend.
~ There is a severe drought in California, which is terrible, but I gotta say… photographically, the dried grass and dirt ground provided terrific reflected light and added an airy, romantic quality to the scene. Who knew a drought could be beautiful?!!
~ Finally, the family was very relaxed and comfortable, so altogether with what I mentioned above, the image is one I keep coming back to.