Hello there!

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!

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The Buzz

My Philosophy

I scoured through thousands of my client photos and pondered my philosophy on photographing people.  What I realized was that my philosophy was incredibly simple.

Looking at all these gorgeous faces and families, my heart melts a little.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.   ~annie

Want to see more?  Yippeee… here’s a video on why you should choose Lifestyle Photography.

Say Nothing

I admit it.  I like to talk, especially when it is about topics I am passionate about — like art and photography, marketing, color and light, friends, meaning of life, parenting, life lessons, my family, my puppy.  But sometimes, I find it healthy to step back and say nothing.  (I can see my husband slowly shaking his head right now.  haha)

I met this boy, Henry, last weekend.  I have sooooooo much to say about him and his parents….how they interact with each other, what they did at their shoot, their relationship.

Instead, I’ll let the images tell their story.  ❤️

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Behind-The-Scenes: Jalin

It’s time to take a peek behind-the-scenes (BTS) of one of my shoots!

Here’s some background:

Jalin loves the city, so she knew she wanted to have the shoot in the city.  We started at the crack of dawn.  Nah, I’m kidding.  It was dark though because of the fog that is typical of San Francisco mornings.  The air was brisk because the fog that sat over the city completely blocked the morning sun.  I came in full Winter gear.  My childhood friends from Massachusetts would shake their heads if they saw me in my thick scarf and jacket with thumb holes because it was in the 50s.  :)

Behind-the-Scenes #1

We started at this restaurant that hadn’t opened yet.  I liked the outside of the building, so we walked around to find a good spot, and then…

I spotted the fog rolling under the bridge.  Knowing that the light changes every minute, I threw out the wall idea and had Jalin sit with her coffee.  There wasn’t much time to reorganize the tables and chairs; we only had time to wipe her chair from the morning dew and pull a couple chairs out of the way.  The disarray of the rest of the furniture ended up being a representation of life, and her stillness in the chaos was symbolic, so we loved it.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 320, f/2.5, 1/8000 sec, morning sun, dense fog]

Behind-the-Scenes #2

The light was so cool because it was early enough that the sun was low in the sky, thereby providing a glow on one side of Jalin’s face; meanwhile, the fog acted as a diffuser, so the sunlight came in soft.

Once I captured the environmental shots (Jalin with the bridge and fog), I moved up to get some close-up shots of this beautiful High School Senior.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 3320, f/2.2, 1/4000 sec]

Behind-the-Scenes #3

We walked over to one of the piers.  There were locals fishing at the end, the fog was clearing, and it was starting to get really bright.  Bright sun means shadows and higher contrast images, which isn’t ideal for portraits.  However, I love the lines on piers, and we wanted to shoot the cityscape.

To make it work, I used a reflector to brighten the shadow on Jalin’s face.  I also shot into the sun.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/6400 sec, bright full sun on the right of subject, reflector]

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[Specs:  ISO 250, f/1.4, 1/8000 sec, bright full sun behind subject, intentionally 'blew out' the image to soften the shadows]

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[Specs:  ISO 250, f/1.8, 1/8000 sec, full bright sun to subject's left, embraced the contrast!]

Behind-the-Scenes #4

Doopdeedoop….we’re just walking by a construction area and you know what they say about how life is about the journey, not the destination?  Well, that’s true in Photography as well.

I loved the urban vibe of the wire fence, and the “danger” signs were really cool.  They are symbols of life’s many crossroads, am I right?!!  ;)

The BxW BTS shot shows what is behind Jalin:  not much!  I angled my camera to completely miss the messy area and shot wide open to blur it out.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 400, f/1.4, 1/3200 sec, open shade, late morning]

Behind-the-Scenes #5

I had this idea that Jalin could stand very still while crowds rushed by her, but that never happened.  We waited for awhile, but it was a Sunday, which meant less foot traffic.  The light was also not super interesting, so I found that BxW pulled the image together best and made Jalin stand out the most.

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What I Shot

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[Specs:  ISO 800, f/1.4, 1/1250 sec, indoors, low light]

Behind-the-Scenes:  Tada!  

We just finished, so we took a quick pic.  That’s the proud mama who is also my friend on the left, the beautiful Jalin, and yours truly.

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If this is helpful to you, you can check out my BTS of Crystal or this one of Katy and Tammy!

Superglue

After the rain, everything is quieter.  Greener.  Fresher.

It was really beautiful to photograph, even without the sun.  The farmland by the woods was really quiet and empty, and the green color of the moss on the trees and the damp leaves illuminated.  Even the smell… it was invigoratingly clean.

The best part of the shoot, however, was seeing Alex and Roberta’s girls and giving them great big bear hugs.  I’ve missed seeing their smiley faces and how sweet they are with each other.  These two are the ones who makes me wish I had a sister.  Their Superglue bond is undeniable and a joy to see.

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