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San Francisco Family Photographers | Where the Wild Things Are

San Francisco. I have lived in this beautiful city for over fifteen years. It is the city that stole my heart when I came out for a visit and told myself I would live in one day. I am still amazed by its beauty and finding places that I have never visited before. My first home in the city was close to Union Square downtown and I got to frequent the usual tourist spots like Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, Golden Gate Park, Lombard Street, Pier 39, and the SFMOMA among others. If you come out here for a visit, do yourself a favor and save yourself a little time to explore the city off the beaten path.

As you can see, there was never a dull moment with this little one. When Rachna spoke with me about a session, she was a little worried about the timing. She said her little one was a wild child. I could immediately relate as my son was a wild thing at that age (and longer). I remember someone telling me that the wild ones are really smart kids. And yes, I think it is true even though I may be somewhat biased. Also, my son has calmed down considerably and it is good to know that the phase doesn’t last forever. Also, as you can see there were so many sides to this sweet little girl and I enjoyed every bit of our time together. Thank you mama, for trusting me with your memories!

I photographed this family last year in their Mission District neighborhood. It was wonderful to see them again and also the little one, a year older and mobile. This was a different session and it took a little bit of time for Miss V to warm up to the camera and me. You could clearly see that she is a mama’s girl and didn’t leave her side for too long but to sneak kisses to her doting dad. We spent a bit of time in their home before heading out to this gorgeous Corona Heights Hill spot with beautiful views of the city. Afterward, we headed back to the Mission to take some portraits near one of their favorite murals in their neighborhood. Some of my favorites here are the ones I photographed on my medium format film camera with Kodak Portra 160 (for the geeks!).

If you would like to book a family session or otherwise, please feel free to call me at 415-580-2177 or email me through the website. I will be in the Chicago/Springfield, Illinois area between June 29 – July 8th and have a couple spots for a session.

rachna - We love the moments you captured! We will treasure these pictures for a lifetime. Thank you!

Demese Black - Love, Love, Love these pictures. I love this beautiful family. Job well done

Demese

Bijal - Great moments! Glad you guys are cherishing the time with Vyana! Feel free to cherish some moments at our house in San Deigo! Hope to see you soon! Bijal Reena Ayana Maliya Jivaan

Shreya - I absolutely love that Vyanas personality shines through… It’s been about a year since I last saw her and it feels like I can get a sense of the “wild child” adorable 2-year old that she is now!

Melissa - Just amazing! Gorgeous family:)

Vidya Balakrishnan - Bravo! These photos are just stunning. I would love to talk to you about doing some family photos for us in a few months when our daughter, Asha, is a bit bigger.

Anietie Ekanem - This is so beautiful. You have a great eye which captures the beauty of your amazing family in the moment. WOW!

Sandra Coan - What a fun and energetic family session! Love it!

Kel Ward - Gorgeous!!! You are so talented!

Trish Barker - So much feeling in your photos. These are so great!

Girish - Nice set of pictures :) So much fun. The kid’s got beautiful eyes.

San Francisco Portrait Photographer | An afternoon with Annie

The black and white images were created with a Medium Format Contax and Tri-X film.

Every so often, you meet someone that you feel like you have known forever. A kindred spirit. When Annie reached out to me for portraits, and we had our first conversation, I instantly connected with her. I knew I was going to love the images we would create together. However, there was that apprehension of photographing a photographer. You see, Annie is an wonderful photographer and it was a huge honor that she placed her trust in me. We settled on doing the portraits in her home as I knew she would be most comfortable out there. She was a wee bit on the edge and I told her chill out with a glass of wine before I showed up. I love when people and their spaces come together and make magic. Her mid-century home with its light and shadows largely inspired these images. It was a perfect backdrop and so was Annie in this image I shared earlier. After seeing the photos, Annie sent me a lovely note that made me tear as well.

“These made me cry. They are beautiful, Alpana. I haven’t ever seen myself like this! These are truly meaningful, and I’m starting to realize they were for me – T second, 😉 I am SO glad I did this. You can see my ease and comfort level and that is ALL BECAUSE OF YOU! Your direction and ideas were awesome.”

One of the reasons, I wanted to share the note is because it is so rare that women invest in photographs of themselves. Annie’s portraits started out as a surprise for her husband but ended up meaning so much more. I would urge you to get some professional images taken of you. Just for you. If you would like a session, please contact me through the website.

wendy laurel - love this — getting photos done of me was really empowering.. I felt so special and looked so much better than I normally think of myself as looking. I did it as a birthday present to myself and am really glad I did.

Trish barker - that black and white in the mirror. Absolute favorite!

Jaine - absolutely lovely!

kelsy mccartney - Beautiful!! I absolutely adore the black and whites especially

Sandra Coan - Love these!!

Kel Ward - Soooo good, Alpana!

San Francisco Family Photographers | An outdoorsy family with their bikes

For their family portraits, bikes were a must. Chris and Erin are owners of Eden Bicycles, a wonderful bike shop in the East Bay. When we chatted about using bikes for their session it seemed like a no-brainer as a perfect activity for their outdoorsy family. Also, it was a great way to engage the older kids that find photography as a form of torture (am I right?). And lastly, it is way more fun to have an activity that have super posed photos. So here are some of the highlights from our short time together… it was a pretty breezy day and fortunately, the sun popped in and out to give us some lovely end of the day light.

If you would like to book a family session with older children or younger ones in the San Francisco Bay Area, please feel to contact me through the website. I will also be traveling to the Chicago area between June 29-July 8th and available for pre-booked sessions.

Kim White - Great set of photos that capture the spirit of the individuals as well as the family.

Mary - Love these pics they are so spontaneous and fun capturing the true essence of the Padavanas.

Ellen G. - What a lovely slice of life.

A Twin Peaks Inspired Portrait

Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.~ Dale Cooper

When Annie hired me to take portraits of her, it was a surprise for her husband Tom. Annie is a photographer and I knew I could push the envelope a little more. She told me that her husband does not like portraiture for portraiture’s sake, as he likes every image to reveal a story. No pressure, right?

One of my favorite images is this image from my Pinterest board by Eve Arnold. I asked Annie if she might have a mirror for us to play with. When I got to Annie’s home, it was beautiful with lots of mid-century influences and her bathroom was like a Twin Peaks set. I just knew we had to make some portraits in there. Here is a peek at one of my favorites. I can’t wait to share the rest once I get my film back.

wendy laurel - love it.. very twin peaks..

Lindsay Madden - This is so good! Absolutely beautiful.

jaine - i love twin peaks – this photo is awesome!

kelsy mccartney - well i’d say you nailed it! so much thought in this single image.

Kel Ward - Way cool!!

Trish Barker - This is fantastic!

Sandra Coan - AMAZING!! Love!

Valentina - Such a gorgeous image!

A San Francisco Dive Bar Wedding

It’s not everyday that you get a call to photograph a San Francisco Dive Bar Wedding. I am always up for a challenge and to do something a little different in today’s world of highly stylized weddings. Don’t get me wrong, I love classic weddings and glamor, but the most important thing to me is being able to craft a good, honest story. When Mike called me to photograph their wedding, I was intrigued at the prospect of documenting a dive-bar love story. The young couple was going to have a city hall wedding and Mike was committed to investing in artistic professional photographs for their dive bar party.

The day of the wedding just happened to be one of those stormy days where I was worried about being able to make it to the city in one piece. I left early before the downpour began and had plenty of time to wait for the bride and groom to make their arrival in the vintage limo. Being early gave me some time to talk to the staff and I discovered that the couple frequented the bar living close by. The staff, the owner had become friends and family. It made sense that they were all a part of Mike and Char’s story along with the family and friends. I am hoping that over time, the wedding album I designed will take them back to this day and what made it special.

Oh, can you believe I didn’t have a single drink? Sometimes, being on the job is no fun…
























I am available for limited wedding commissions. If you are interested in having me document your wedding, please contact me. To browse through the wedding portfolio click this link.

Nicole Spangler - Wow! I love these images! They really tell the story of their wedding.

wendy laurel - that looks like it was a ton of fun!

Katie Brenkert - I’ll have to just say it again, you really do some stunningly beautiful work! Im so glad to have met you and now I can’t wait to be inspired by what I see from you. Just gorgeous.

Three year old twin sisters

These three year old twin sisters have been my photographic subjects since they were fourteen months old. There is a certain unpredictability documenting really young children that I adore. Their last session was when the girls were two and a half, a little over a year ago. As they say, children grow up in the blink of an eye. At their recent session, at three years, the girls seemed so grown and mature. It is amazing for me to see these changes as the little people evolve into bigger people. The girls sported the cutest Tea Collection dresses, one of my favorite clothing options. I asked the mom if she could share a little about her experience working with me and she sent me the lovely note below. Can I just say how happy I am that Chantal spotted my work at Palo Alto Medical Foundation? I always wonder how many people actually look at displays while at the doctors? Thank you, Chantal and Jai for letting me capture your memories.















From Chantal
I’ve been a fan of Alpana’s work ever since my husband first showed me some photos taken of one of his friends and her family four years ago. My husband was impressed with the photos and when I came to look over his shoulder, I could understand why. His friend and her family were walking through a field and resting by an old fence in the photos, which sounds simple enough, yet the photos were extraordinary. The colors and landscape were beautiful, but in each shot the photographer had captured a shared moment between some of the family members. That was the star of each photo- that subtle moment. We loved the story told in those photos so much that my husband called his friend to compliment her on them. She told us the photographer was “Storybox Art”, which seemed like an apt name to us, but we never thought about it further as our friend lived in New York and we never imagined this particular photographer would be working in our end of the country (California).

A year later, I was walking into our doctor’s office when I looked up and spotted a photo of a young child holding a dandelion with his mother blowing it away. I hurried to my appointment, but kept thinking about how much I liked the photo and on the way out I stopped to admire it and read the caption. The photographer was “Storybox Art” and when I looked around I noticed a few other photos by the same photographer, each more striking than the next and each documenting a moment between family members that told a whole story about their relationship. It seemed too coincidental that this photographer would share both the name and the unique style with the one whose work we loved from New York, but after some internet research, I was delighted to learn that indeed, it was her! Her office is based 15 min from our house and though we’d never had professional photos taken before, we felt compelled to call her to talk about a possible discussion. That was a choice I am so happy with.

I think Alpana’s photos speak for themselves, but I can tell you a bit of the backstory of working with her for three separate photo sessions over the years. During our first shoot, our twins were 1 years old and constantly on the move. This was no problem, as Alpana was definitely practiced in photographing very young children. She generally seemed pretty amused by our girls’ tendency to charge off in separate directions and she has lots of tricks up her sleeve for photographing little ones on the move. For example, sometimes would capture them running and other times she would draw them in and give them something of natural beauty around us (a leaf, a rock, a dandelion, etc.) and photograph their fascination with it. Later, when I see the resulting photos, I notice that the seemingly ordinary object looks beautiful in just the right light, so through her lens I can really understand a child’s fascination with it.

During our second and third photo sessions when the girls were a bit older, we decided to go on an easy hike and our girls loved every moment of the shoot. We enjoyed the chatting with Alpana as we walked and we’d stop now and then for her to capture something she saw us doing (talking together, cuddling the girls, etc). She takes lots of photos of small things, like my husband or I fixing our girls’ hair, etc., and often these become the photos I love the most from the whole day. She really has an eye for light and landscapes, but these moments are her specialty. She captures them naturally, just letting us all play together and taking photos, so the process is pretty organic and as a result we all feel comfortable and we are genuinely having a good time. I think there are probably layers of things to appreciate in Alpana’s photos, but what I most love about the ones she took of us is that every photo reminds me of the story behind the photo. When I look at her photos of other families, I can imagine that story, and I think that’s why I love her work so much. Her photos really do feel like “snapshots in time”.

Kel Ward - I always love your take on family portraits. You’re a true artist, Alpana! This session is no exception. :)

jaine - what a sweet family session!

Lindsay Madden - What a gorgeous set of images! I love the way you capture families.

Rebecca Lindon - What beautiful girls and captured perfectly. Loved reading Chantal’s words :0)

Trish Barker - So raw and real. Love them.

Anushree Gavas - Such lovely girls Alpana! and I am in love with the first picture up there, such great light!

wendy laurel - simply gorgeous.. love that first photo so much

At the Town Kitchen



Recently, I did an editorial shoot with the folks over at The Town Kitchen in the bay area. I photographed one of their youth employees, Brian at the community garden he tends to in Oakland. He is an inspiring young man with a good head on his shoulders. In the time, I spent with him at the garden, there were a couple of young kids that came by to help him. I could see that they looked up to him like a big brother and he was ever so patient with their questions guiding them on tasks to do. I also went out to the Town Kitchen’s commercial space to photograph him at work. I love how the young CEO Sabrina has championed the Town Kitchen for social change in the Oakland community. Her vision is to create community through local food utilizing the skills of the low-income Oakland youth under the guidance of talented chefs. Check them out… and better, yet… order some of their yummy food!

Family Mini Session in the East Bay

A few from a recent short story family session in the east bay. The darling little one was just starting to sit up which is a perfect age for a photo session. Did you know that I offer Mini Sessions that range between $550-750 that include the session time and some product. The session yields 12-15 artful images (often more) to pick from for your product choices. There is also a digital files option available if that is what you are interested in. Please use the contact form to schedule your mini-session.

Lisa Tichané - Oh wow those eyes!! This baby is adorable! I love the connections you’ve captured, too :)

Amy Salessi - So dreamy! I love it. Gorgeous!

wendy laurel - i just love your work!!

Cynthia - I love how you captured their bond so well! Beautifully done!

Kristin Sweeting - Oh my goodness! That baby’s eyes with that sweater! Such gorgeous images!

jaine - what a wonderful family session!

melanie - this session is just so beautiful! that sweet baby’s eyes are incredible!! so precious! <3

Kel Ward - Oh my gosh, that is the most adorable little fuzz head ever!

Beth Ann - Beautiful job capturing the connections between the family. Such an adorable baby!

Helen Bartlett - lovely, particularly the fourth one, what a fantastic shot