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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

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!

Saturday, May 9 2015

Los Altos Family Photography: How did their lifestyle change?

Los Altos Family Photography: How did their lifestyle change? preview photo: 0

April ended with a fantastic family photography session celebrating these twin boys’ 1st year. I photographed their last few weeks in residence of M’s maternity session; I had the privilege of being one of the first to bid them welcome to our world, and you saw their newborn session. As part of their post-natal care they were asked answer a questionnaire, including the question “How will your lifestyle change?” As a family friend, and having the opportunity to observe it, I can tell you the changes have been big. There’s so much that goes on with twins (from figuring sleep out with two babies, managing child-care help and tracking milestones) but these guys have done such, SUCH an amazing job. I only get a small taste of their lives in trying to photograph all three of their kiddos in the same frame. Heck, getting two in the same frame was a big deal: the boys are crawling now (actually A is walking!), and they go fast…. aaaaaand in opposite directions. Yeah! The only way to get them together was through the use of a baby magnet: you know… Cheerios! Even then, though, it wasn’t easy. This past session took place on the campus of Foothill College. I’m still continuing to explore all the amazing scenery it has to offer. A year ago I walked around this campus, and discovered a hidden little nook with a bamboo garden in the middle. I’ve been so eager to give it a try. For better or worse, it was set to rain the morning we planned to meet. I recommended Foothill, because I thought cement stood a better chance of drying up by the afternoon than grass in a park. Plus it offered a bit of rain cover in case the rain extended into our time. In this drought we’re having I can’t do the “no rain dance” in good conscience, so I’ll work with and around any water coming from our skies. Come the afternoon, the weather was gorgeous, the location was perfect, and I couldn’t have asked for better styling from these guys. As a special treat, what I thought was a small bamboo patch, turned out to be an intro the a whole bamboo garden on the campus grounds. To say I was giddy is an understatement! Though we spent the majority of our session on the flat, paved areas, to[…]See more from “Los Altos Family Photography: How did their lifestyle change?”

Monday, April 6 2015

Foster City Family Photographer: The right family

Foster City Family Photographer: The right family preview photo: 0

The Bay Trail starting up around Coyote Point in San Mateo, and extending down through Redwood Shores is one of my favorite places for a week-end walk. Last year, if you were walking those paths on a week-end morning, chances are, you walked by me. I love it for it’s serenity: being by the water is so soothing for me; and for it’s interest: there are just SO many cool things to see along this path. I usually park close to the Gilhead Sciences building on these walks. It was how I got to know it, and quite frankly “lust” after it. I’ve admired this building every time I’d start a walk there, and I’ve been itching to photograph a family in it’s courtyard. I love the modern architecture, it’s rolling hills, and just the cool landscaping. Circling around the structure presents such a diversity of scenes. I just had to find the right family, and the right family came! I’m so thrilled to be photographing, N, A and their boys for a 3rd year in a row! Little R is a year old now, and this meeting was a way to celebrate that. We met right after the clocks moved forward, and while I was excited about how the light would play into our plan, R wasn’t quite feeling the early wake-up. Poor kid fell asleep as soon as we were done. He wanted his nap in the worst way, and the sleep faerie wasn’t doing me any favors. He’s still a cutie though, and we got a smile out of him before we left. Big brother N had all the energy in the world, though, and we had a bunch of fun smelling flowers, playing airplane while my camera shutter clicked away. It was a great morning, and I am one happy family photographer. Meanwhile, I have some new hikes planned over the coming weeks. I wonder what new spots I’ll find then?

Monday, March 23 2015

SEO for photographers: “A Photographer’s Guide To SEO” book

SEO for photographers: “A Photographer’s Guide To SEO” book preview photo: 0

Over the past few years I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on SEO (search engine optimization). As a professional photographer and service provider, I welcome new clients. The families I have worked with, thus far, have come to me through referrals, through Yelp, and some come because they find me online. Being found in online searches is simply a necessity for businesses. However, as I and many other discovered it is not as easy as creating a website and setting it free in the world. So I’ve been reading, and experimenting. For awhile now I’ve also been part of a number of photographer groups. While we provide the same service, I’ve found the photographer community to be far more collaborative than competitive. We lift each other up through shared knowledge and help. I’ve seen requests ranging from “hey how do I respond to a client in this situation”, to “Please critique this image”, to “My second shooter fell ill, I have a wedding this week-end and need help”. It’s incredible! It was with that collaborative spirit, that I sat down last summer to write a blog post on how photographers can improve their SEO. “SEO for photographers“, I thought. I sat down and started writing. And writing. And writing. I realized: hey this was going to have to be a multi-part blog series. There were just so many seo tips for photographers to share. So much people need to know about and do. And then I realized…. this needed to go beyond a series of blog posts. It needed to become a book! I approached ClickinMoms to see if there would be an interest in this content, along with a few photographer friends for their thoughts. Now, six months later I am super, SUPER excited to announce that my book, “A Photographer’s Guide To SEO: Get More Client Exposure Through Better Search Result Positioning“, is launched. It is live, exclusively at the ClickinMoms store. Go check it out! What you’ll receive is an electronic book, which will download in PDF format. It’s super convenient to put it on your phone, pad, read on your computer or print out if you wish — any format that works best for you; wherever you are. I worked really hard to make this book work for individuals that are just getting started with SEO, as well as those that have been[…]See more from “SEO for photographers: “A Photographer’s Guide To SEO” book”