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Photographs are a time machine. They allow us to relive moments and reconnect with children, family and selves from years past.

In the blur of new parenthood, we lose track of just how small a newborn baby's hands were as they wrap around our finger. We forget the wrinkles in their feet. As we get excited about our toddler learning to walk, we quickly move past their bowed legs as they take their first steps. We forget just how round our belly was when we were pregnant. Photographs help bring back those memories. It is why I fell in love with photography.

My favorite images are those that capture the really small gestures: happy or sad -- the way a kid holds a pencil when they draw... the way they look at a leaf in the park... the way they pout. The portraits preserve their appearance and personality, all in one.

I want to document your family's journey, and give you the chance to relive these memories.
I want my portraits to capture you.... being you, being comfortable... being yourselves.

Welcome to Zemya Photography! Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.

--- Ava

Wednesday, July 29 2015

2015 Bay Area Peninsula Mini Sessions: Coming soon!

2015 Bay Area Peninsula Mini Sessions: Coming soon! photo: 1

Yep, it’s August — and who wants to think about booking their fall portraits now? Who wants to give up thinking about summer now? I’m not ready, that’s for sure! With that said, though, fall is around the corner, and I’m starting to put together my mini session schedule. Want to be among the first to see it and get a chance to book a spot? Simply add your email to this list! I will send a special notification to those interested in working with me before I open it up to the general public. There will only be 5 mini session events, so don’t chance it — get on the list. Note: If you’ve been a client in the past 2 years, you don’t need to subscribe — I will reach out to you. Subscribe to our announcements mailing list * indicates required Email Address * My calendar for fall will open first to my clients from the last two years (as my Thanx for chosing me to photograph your family), then to those of you subscribed to this list, and finally to the general public. We did this last year and it worked out really well. Getting on the mailing list is really easy. Please fill out the following form. You will have to confirm that you want to be added to the list (by clicking on a link in an email you’ll receive shortly after subscribing). Please remember to do this — otherwise you won’t be on the list. I will NOT give your contact information out to anyone, and for those of you that are already on it, you can vouch that I don’t spam you weekly. So, you have nothing to risk. Promise! Looking forward to photographing you this fall!

Thursday, July 16 2015

Bay Area Vacation Photographer: Our Moorea & Bora Bora anniversary trip

Bay Area Vacation Photographer: Our Moorea & Bora Bora anniversary trip preview photo: 0

My husband and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage next month. It’s remarkable to me that time has gone by so quickly — I’m pretty sure it was only a year ago that I was chatting with the Knot forums about wedding planning. Then I look at how big my kids are getting and think “Yeah, it couldn’t have been that recent!” To celebrate, we decided to take a big anniversary trip. Just the two of us. We spent a week in French Polynesia, between Moorea and Bora Bora, and it was wonderful!!! Our schedule in August is a little nutty, so we decided to take our trip at the end of June. The weather was perfect, and we got majorly lucky because the week right after we left, it rained… a lot. Meanwhile, on our vacation we had pleasant temperatures, never exceeding the mid-80’s, and low humidity. Really, it was perfect! We arrived in Tahiti early morning, with an hour and a half to spare before our ferry to Moorea. We spent the time walking through the market across from the ferry building. Things were just opening up, and we got to see a town get busy around us. We stayed with the Intercontinental Resort on both islands. It was pretty amazing to be honest. I had fallen in love with the idea of a bungalo over the water, which is what took us to French Polynesia in the first place: let’s face it — there just aren’t that many places in the world you can have that experience. The island was just beautiful! The water on these islands is so clear, and you’re surrounded by a coral reef all around. Really there was no escaping absorbing what a beautiful sight there was to behold either above or below water. Moorea offered us the opportunity to hang out with some dolphins. Our resort hosts a dolphin education center, where they house 3 bottle nose dolphins, and conduct education seminars throughout the day. We got to swim with the dolphins, which I’ll be honest was a little startling. Usually I don’t mind being the first person up for an adventure… but not when it comes to water sports. The dolphin takes you deep underwater, and it’s up to you to 1) hang on; 2) hold your breath. I opted to go 3rd. It was really fun though. On our[…]See more from “Bay Area Vacation Photographer: Our Moorea & Bora Bora anniversary trip”

Wednesday, July 15 2015

Belmont Family Photographer: Extended Family

Belmont Family Photographer: Extended Family preview photo: 0

Right before I left on my anniversary trip (more on this soon, I promise!), I met with L and her guys for an extended family photography session. I’m always curious how people hear about me and my photography work. It’s usually one of the first thing I ask when a new client reaches out. In L’s case, though, I knew… our youngest, and their oldest shared years together in the same preschool. Even though our little guy doesn’t go there anymore, he still talks about his buddy all the time. He considers him his best friend and “writes” him cards. As a matter of fact, the morning of our session, before I pulled out my camera to get started, I handled little A a card from my little guy because I promised that I wouldn’t forget. L wanted to capture portraits with her parents and her husband’s parents. They arranged for all to be in the same place at the same time (which isn’t easy, which anyone that has distributed families will attest to). Originally we had planned to meet in a woodsy area I had just discovered in Redwood City, but L requested something with more texture and vibrant color. It was a Monday morning, and this time of year finding that combination screamed to try our local high school: Carlmont High. If you haven’t been, it’s a very, very large campus. And it’s beautiful! From brick walls, to murals, to stair-cases, and full-glass walls, it’s a dream! I showed her some photos from my scouting trip and they were on board. To be honest, while I’m a little sad the original location didn’t work out, I loved, LOVED the new plan. I always get really excited to shoot somewhere new — it gives me an opportunity to take advantage of the new scenes a location has to offer, and get creative. I got a great compliment from L’s mother in law after they received their images too. She said she had at least 25 favorites, which gave me a nice smile for the day. Thank you!

Sunday, June 21 2015

Los Altos Family Photographer: A gift for dad

Los Altos Family Photographer: A gift for dad preview photo: 0

I may have said it before, but I find the photography community to be remarkably supportive. I participate in a couple of online forums where we exchange ideas, learn from one another and generally help each other grow. I’m joined by professional and hobbyist photographers from across the Bay Area and the world at large. You’d think competition would be a factor (at least at the local level), but instead of tearing each other down, I am thrilled to see our groups stand each other up! One way we help each other out is filling in for one another when a prospective client asks for a portrait session and we’re not able to do it. Maybe you’ve experienced this looking to book an appointment with me? When I’m unavailable I refer requests: the least I could do is help you find another photographer. On this day, I was on the receiving end of a referral for a photography session with an awesome family in their beautiful Los Altos home. Y’s father lives in Japan. He had come out to celebrate his 80th birthday with Y, her husband and their children. Y wanted to commemorate this visit and milestone birthday with a family photography session. Isn’t that awesome? As I chatted with Y on the phone, I was getting more and more excited to meet and photograph them – she wanted some candid moments of her dad and kids because she, herself, gravitated to lifestyle photography. Yet she also wanted something to appeal to her dad who wanted a more traditional set of portraits for his end of year holiday cards. I hope we made everyone happy! Since her father wasn’t as comfortable with lifestyle photography, I suggested we go with something natural already and having grandpa read to his grandkids. A whole brood listening to a favorite Japanese story. Some of my favorite photos are of my parents just playing with our boys. I get to capture expressions you never see on camera otherwise from the adult crowd… and I get to see my parents reconnect with their ‘child’ selves too. Hopefully these images of Y’s kids and their grandfather is something she will fondly look back on the same way I do with mine. Enjoy! And Happy Father’s Day today!

Thursday, June 11 2015

Palo Alto Child Photographer: Before and After

Palo Alto Child Photographer: Before and After preview photo: 0

It’s been a long time since I’ve visited Gamble Gardens! As a matter of fact, my last photography session there was just about exactly two years ago. In going back, it was interesting to see how Gamble Gardens has changed. Throughout the year, the blooming flowers, of course, change. I love the diversity the grounds offer in the span of a few months. Yet, time of year aside, as I did my regular walk around the location, I noticed that the willow trees at the back of the property had also gone away. It excites me to see Gamble evolve, but also a little nostalgic for all the families, scenes and memories we’ve captured in that space. E and C asked for this location specifically. When Q was a littler, little guy, we held his (almost) 1yr old photoshoot there. They wanted to have a visit now with little E. The child photographer in me was happy to oblige, because as much as well manicured gardens and kids sound like a scary combination, this spot has always been kid-friendly and beautiful for family portraits. Plus I love doing this type of “before and after” shoots. Speaking of “before and after”, I’ll be honest — I’m almost a little uncomfortable to link to their last portrait session at this location. I’ve grown so much as a photographer. My editing style has certainly evolved. I can look back on these older of sessions, though, and reflect on aspects I am really proud of: the way I’ve connected with families and captured how they connect with one another — that’s something I’m glad I had figured out then. Also, to some degree, I took more risks then too. I tried more things… tried different things. I’d like to reconnect with that part of origins. However, I’m more secure in myself now. I’m also more comfortable directing. I don’t feel as rushed. I’m more comfortable editing, and I find that the natural images, skin tones and exposure are what I return to, no matter what direction I try to explore in Lightroom and Photoshop. Now, I wonder what the me of two years from now will have to say. Until then, enjoy Q and E’s photos!