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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

Tuesday, April 26 2016

San Mateo Lifestyle Family Photos: At home

San Mateo Lifestyle Family Photos: At home preview photo: 0

The reason I like lifestyle family photos at home is simply how different each session turns out. Each home is like a fingerprint — every family makes it uniquely their own. Even if I was to walk into the same layout of a house, every piece of furniture, every comfort accommodation each family does makes their home special to them. That variation, and unexpectedness keeps me on my photographer toes in such a good way. I love family portraits at home just for that reason! Outdoors, I’m antsy to know my surroundings. I need to know where the light comes in, where it falls, how I can make it work with my photo (or at least not against it). I will scout out locations that my clients request trying to get as close to the time of day, even if that means driving an hour, so that I know what I’m getting into. Yet, going into a family home I don’t have that urge for control. All I can hope for is decent-enough window light (though I bring a little video light just in case), and room for me to work in. I’ve crammed myself up into closets, stood on top of beds and tables all to get the shot and it’s been great. I love the challenge! I love having to think on my feet! I love getting a chance to incorporate those home elements into shots. I’ve been fortunate that so many of my sessions this year have given me this chance to shoot indoors. Partly due to rain, but also because my families requested it. When I walked into G’s home, her husband was still getting ready (another bonus to family sessions — a little behind on one person isn’t as big a deal!), so I took the opportunity to get a tour of the place and do some snuggle shots of Mommy and her little girl. In J’s nursery there was this awesome bed. See: this Mom and Dad were smart — they realized that if you’re going to be making the trek to the nursery and hang with a sleepless kiddo, doing in in the comfort of a cozy full size bed IN the nursery is the way to go. I can’t tell you how many nights I stood over our sons’ crib, or tried to sleep in a rocker next to them WISHING I[…]See more from “San Mateo Lifestyle Family Photos: At home”

Sunday, April 17 2016

Belmont Baby Photos: The best time

Belmont Baby Photos: The best time preview photo: 0

Newborn photos are great! I love photographing a fresh infant in their first few weeks of life. There’s all the new-found love from parents, and the marvel at how tiny this new person is. But you know what’s even more fun? Baby photos!!! Yep — I’m talking 6-9 months of pure baby giggles. It’s when Mom & Dad gets their feet back from under them; those sleeplessness nights have either improved, or parents have resolved to the reality and now time is just fun. Babies are smiling (for more reasons than gas!), vocalizing, blowing raspberry ‘cuz it’s awesome, sitting up and playing with their feet. How is this not awesome? It’s also I would never turn away a session in this age group… especially if we can do it at home, so your kid can roll around in their diaper and show off their flexibility to me. When E reached out to me earlier in the year and we got into planning their family photography session, I was progressively getting more and more excited! Again — fun kiddo age group, at home. Perfect combo! Doing photos at home can be a little tricky, though. While I wish every home had floor to ceiling windows with amazing natural light, that’s just not how the world works. Homes, like families, come in all shapes and sizes: some not with the best windows. Makes for great sleeping arrangements, but not necessarily photo opportunities [speaking of which, if you’re an architect — let’s talk about my wish-list ;p]. Even IF you have a great window set-up, a dark, cloudy day can spoil up the arrangement too. It’s why I bring a small video light with me (with extra batteries) to bring more brightness into our space and we can have more flexibility in where we shoot. My favorite spots? Your bedroom, nursery and living room. It’s where you cuddle and spend most of your time together, and it’s what I want to capture for you. It’s where you can show me your favorite book, and best kid rocking position. You can show off your mad baby-changing skills. Your life: your pictures 🙂 Little K can’t quite sit-up on her own fully comfortably yet. But you know what? We faked it! I put her on the coffee table in the living room, and asked mom to duck behind with her hands over her hips, providing[…]See more from “Belmont Baby Photos: The best time”

Saturday, April 9 2016

Unravel Mamas Night Out: San Jose

Unravel Mamas Night Out: San Jose preview photo: 0

If you have followed me for the past three years, you know that pediatric cancer rocked my good friend, Libby’s world (and mine by extension) in a devastating way by taking her beautiful six-year old daughter within three months after she was diagnosed with DIPG: a terminal brain tumor. Libby and her family are slowly learning to live each day and each experience without their oldest. Yet amidst it all, she found a way through her pain to try push through, and do her darnest, to do everything she can so that our living children are not touched by cancer. Unravel Pediatric Cancer is the manifestation of that effort, and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research and family support since. One of the events Unravel hosts throughout the year in various parts of our state is Mamas Night Out. It’s a great evening that gives you a totally legitimate excuse to get dolled up with your girl friends, enjoy some yummy wine, food and company, knowing that all the proceeds from the event go to the incredible cause of finding cures for pediatric cancer. San Jose just wrapped up their event for 2016, and I am super excited to say that I got to cover it. I’d always taken part of this as an attendee, and it was a very different perspective being there to document the evening. I was so nervous about it!!! I really wanted to do a good job for them, and through my photographs show what a great and fun night people have so I can inspire more women to attend. Each Mamas Night Out has their own feel to it: some might be a bit more glitzy, but every event is great. Want a sneak peak into one of these evenings? Whether you have fun in front of the photo booth, get yourself painted with henna, or just chill on the couch with a friend and you can expect a good time with your friends. There are raffles for some amazing prices. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see a basket and hair appointment donated by my favorite hair salon among the prizes. Can you guess where I put in all my tickets? Sadly, no win for me, but I’m sure whomever won will be a happy gal. In the sit-down portion of the evening, we got to hear about the[…]See more from “Unravel Mamas Night Out: San Jose”

Sunday, April 3 2016

Redwood City Family Photography: Plus grandma

Redwood City Family Photography: Plus grandma preview photo: 0

I’m almost embarrassed to admit how long ago this family photo session took place and I am just now writing about it. Judging from the golden grass, though, you can tell this was one of the mini sessions I held last fall. I so enjoy photographing this family. As a matter of fact, this session was one of my favorites, and I was saving my favorites for last (you know… “save the best for last” sort of thing), but as things kept getting in the way all of a sudden getting through the last few slipped way past the new year like I had initially set out for myself. Don’t get me wrong — the business is a good thing… until it comes time to actually show off all my work. At least I posted a sneak peak of these girls on my Facebook page. So… now that you know, onto their actual story and photos. D asked if her mom could join us this family photo session. I won’t lie — adding family members to a mini session can be tricky — we just have so much time in our 20 minutes, so I make a case-by-case recommendation. However, given that E & S are past their toddler years, and having photographed these girls before. I felt pretty confident we could make it work. And we did! I’m so glad grandma came along as we were able to capture a few multi-generation images. As sometimes happens on the Peninsula, the sun frequently kicks off it’s day sheltered by a nice blanket of fog. It burns off as the day progresses, but sometimes my awesome plans for backlit fun get spoiled. Alas, the sun went into hiding for these guys, but I still love this location and am excited to do more family sessions here over time.

Monday, March 14 2016

Bay Area Newborn Photographer: Baby O

Bay Area Newborn Photographer: Baby O preview photo: 0

You don’t have to scroll very far to see the maternity session for this little guy. Little O arrived a few weeks early, and he was celebrating his one month birthday on the day of our session. One of the best things about lifestyle newborn sessions (I think) is the flexibility it affords my families. I do newborn sessions any time in the first month of life. While babies aren’t quite the newbies at that age, I like not having to stress out my mom clients with having to accommodate a photographer amidst learning the ways of their new baby. In the scariest of cases I’ve had clients need surgery after delivery, and even in the best of cases the sleep deprivation paired with formulating a new routine with a newborn is just hard. Trying to align a newborn session within the first two weeks of life is just one less thing I need to impose as a lifestyle newborn photographer… so I don’t. Are newborn photographs different with a one month old baby? For sure! Their faces are now a bit more settled and the initial squishyness is gone. Older babies are definitely far more alert, which is both a blessing and a bummer. Blessing because I can get those sparkly eyes in photos to show you. Bummer because the opportunity for a sleepy baby photo is lower. O however conked out right at the end of our session, so I was able to take a few shots of him being perfectly relaxed in his slumber. He took his nap on the enclosed family patio — which was wonderful by the way! It was such a great source of light that we did most of this session there. We spent the rest of our time in the kids’ room. Did you see the amazing mural N painted on it? It’s truly awesome, and definitely brings in some context of little C’s favorite Totoro stuffy. I love walking into homes that are so personalized to the family like this, which is why I try to capture these details whenever possible.