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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, August 14 2016

Belmont Family Portrait Photographer: Ow!

Belmont Family Portrait Photographer: Ow! preview photo: 0

For those of you doing family portrait mini sessions in Belmont with me this fall, and took a risk on an unknown location, take note — this spot is gorgeous!!! I LOVED the beautiful, golden light bouncing around this little gem of a spot. I’m super excited to share it with you guys. I arrived to my session early as usual to scope out where we should focus our time. Usually on these walks I don’t take my blankets with me, because it’s easier to move around. When I got back to my car and started pulling everything out, I did something I never have before — slammed the hatchback trunk door straight on my face. Yeah, NOT a smart move! I was teetering my container of blankets on my leg and simply didn’t step far enough away that the door came over the bridge of my nose in full force. I got a cut right away, of course bleeding as hard as can be. I seriously thought I might need stitches… but only AFTER my session, because my clients would be there in 10 minutes. Nothing more awesome than meeting people with blood streaming around your face. Good thing this wasn’t the first time I photographed S’s family — this is generally not the first impression I want to make with a new family with a kid. Luckily by the time they arrived, the bleeding had mostly stopped and wasn’t as noticeable. I had some fun explaining to do for the following week though. I really wanted to come up with a much funner story that didn’t make me sound as ridiculous as the reality of what happened. And… it appears the resulting scar is here to stay. I told the universe it owed me an awesome family portrait session, after the whole nose thing… and it delivered. I had a ton of fun, and really enjoyed photographing their football game toward the end 🙂 I hope you will too!

Sunday, July 31 2016

Half Moon Bay Photographer: Blank canvas

Half Moon Bay Photographer: Blank canvas preview photo: 0

S and L are engaged. Their wedding photographer doesn’t live locally, so they asked me to photograph their engagement portraits. While there’s no evidence to this, it’s possible I might have clapped (quietly… to myself) when they asked 🙂 S and L live in Pacifica. If you’re not familiar with this part of Northern California, Pacifica is right on the coast. It’s a lovely town, quiet, which can give you all the beach walks you can ask for. And also fog. Yep. For all the amazing beach views you get, seeing a sunset over the beach is actually kind of rare. At least in the summer. Which is why when L asked for sunset photos on the beach I held my breath: we would have to have some crazy weather karma for that to work out, and as you can see we didn’t win out. But in a way I think I love the photos we captured even more fun because of it. We could be fun, we could me moody, and we could set our own scene without the influence of the sun. Fog is kind of the ultimate blank canvas in that way.

Saturday, July 23 2016

Millbrae Family Pictures: Worth the hike

Millbrae Family Pictures: Worth the hike preview photo: 0

The Bay Area is such a remarkable place. It is so incredibly versatile, and so incredibly beautiful. On my hikes around the Peninsula, I discover so many spots that would be great for photography sessions. But, the fact that they are, sometimes, a good mile from a parking spot makes me realize they’re not always practical for family pictures. Especially for families with younger kids. This is why I was so excited when D asked that we meet at the reservoir at Sawyer Camp Trail. The location for our photo-shoot D and S love Sawyer Camp Trail. They take little A on walks there, and it has a meaning to them. It’s always a win in my book when a family requests a spot because they tie it to moments in their lives. These guys are moving to the East Coast soon, so it was even more special to me to do their family portraits in a place they have. I’ll be honest — I’ve biked and walked Sawyer Camp Trail, but always started on the San Mateo side, and never reached the Millbrae end. So the reservoir was a spot I hadn’t seen before, so I was nervous. It was a good mile in from the start of the trail, too. I got out of my car, loaded up our little family wagon and set off. Hey — I get to do a session AND get my fitbit steps in. I call that a double score. The walk to the reservoir was easy — all down hill. The walk back up? Not so much when you’re dragging quite a bit of gear poundage. I was very grateful for the church volunteers who had setup 3/4 up the way to provide free water to hikers. Thank you! Onto their family pictures The last time I met with D and S, A was just a few months old. We did a session at their home just before the holidays. A is such an adorable toddler now. Everyone came dawning their favorite hoodie sweatshirt, because they have a lot of fun playing with them. Be good to them, DC! CA will surely miss them!

Sunday, July 17 2016

San Mateo Maternity Photographer: A second baby bump

San Mateo Maternity Photographer: A second baby bump preview photo: 0

Beautiful S is going to have a baby in the next few weeks. Given how long it’s been taking me to post my previous family portrait sessions, I’m bumping her to the top of the queue of posts. Now you’ll get a chance to meet the Bump before we snuggle it in baby form. I photographed S’ first baby bump not all that long ago I’m so excited for these guys. I photographed S’ first baby bump not all that long ago. It’s pretty great to see they’re gearing up to meet this little one. Bringing help Their little dude, E is one serious customer. I mean literally serious. He had two modes. One, caring only for the passing cars. A second, looking intently at me. S and M anticipated this and brought their nanny to help. Knowing E as well as she does, she sang him all his favorite tunes and got this kid to crack up. It was awesome! Moms and dad’s take note: family and friends that can help us make our session run smoother are ALWAYS welcome. Plus, then, I get a chance to capture some lovely portraits of just the adults without worry that little feet will run off to undesired places. If you don’t have access to this help, it’s all good — of course we make it work, but it’s just a small layer of help and stress relief which is always appreciated.

Friday, July 8 2016

San Francisco Family Photographer: At the Spire

San Francisco Family Photographer: At the Spire preview photo: 0

While I spend most of my waking hours working in San Francisco, I don’t get a chance to photograph in the city often. When my husband and I lived there, we also stayed pretty faithful to our neighborhood, and thus stayed within a comfortable walking distance to SOMA. In summary, while I have a large catalog of locations to offer up on the Peninsula, my recommended spots for family portrait photography in San Francisco are…. let’s say, quite lacking. This is where friends come in. Seriously! I am beyond grateful to be part of a supportive and vibrant community of women photographers. When these guys asked for a spot in the Presidio, my friends obliged with a few recommendations including this jewel. I’ve mentioned before that shooting “blind” at a spot I haven’t scoped out previously makes me very nervous. Yet, that’s what happened! We agreed on a spot on Friday and met for family photos on Saturday. However, when I get recommendations from other photographers, I feel more at ease, because we get the criteria: good light, easy to get to with kids, not crazy crowded… My only worry was wind. Let’s be honest: while we can catch some gorgeous sunsets, those rays are usually accompanied by wind that seems to get it’s kicks off of bad hair days. No mom enjoys a back-lit photo even in the best of light, when the wind gives her a fro. We got lucky, though, and while it was chilly, and a bit windy, we got just what we needed. Thank you friends for an amazing recommendation, and ** family for a great evening! And an extra special thanx to A, who let me put his kids in charge and he had to do everything his son told him to. I might have to do this more often. Because if nothing else, the laughter watching them was worth it!