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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

Friday, November 27 2015

San Carlos Family Photographer: Better each year

San Carlos Family Photographer: Better each year preview photo: 0

Coming of a Thanksgiving high, I really feel very thankful for having the opportunity to do what I do. I’ve photographed amazing moments like the births of children and their first days in our world, heartbreaking times of cancer treatment, commitments to God, commitments to ones-self, and simply families being themselves. I am so, so happy to have been invited to take part in all of these. More than that I am very thankful to see families return to me year over year, watch them grow and really become their family photographer. Many of the faces you see on my website are familiar, because of that. Honestly, one of the reasons I am committed to having all the mini session events that I do is so that I can continue being able to be there for them. Even so, I wish there were more hours in the day to do more. Every year I meet with a past family, I get to remind myself how awesome they are. I swear families become better each year. Like these guys! They are so fun to be around. Great sense of humor, they make me laugh, and make each other laugh. Last year I got to meet P’s sisters and their families, and we had a whole afternoon full of laughter. I hope, if they had a chance to spend yesterday together, it was a great day for them all. Their kindness is just as pervasive as how they enjoy their time with one another. The first time we met, they brought me a bottle of water. It’s a small gesture, but so incredibly welcomed. This time they left me a parting gift of their fur-legged son Arthur’s squeaker toy. His toy, guys!!! They left it for me, so I can have an easier time with the other pups I get to photograph. How sweet is that? Like, I said: better each year. Happy holidays you guys. Thankful to know you!

Wednesday, November 25 2015

Redwood City Family Photographer: How did all this time go by?

Redwood City Family Photographer: How did all this time go by? preview photo: 0

I don’t feel old. I just don’t. If you ask me how old I am, my instinct is to say 26. When I chat with High School students, I feel like I just finished college and I’m still so close to their age. Ha! I tend to feel my body after a full day photographing mini sessions and not being able to stay up till the wee hours of the morning editing, and I get the not-so-awesome reminder that the date in my mind vs my carbon date are quite a bit out of sync. I just feel like time has gone by so fast. And it’s the most apparent when I hang out with guys like these as their family photographer. G and my littlest met in daycare. They were months old. I’ve known him since he was transported to and fro vehicles in a bucket seat. And now look at him! He is tall, and handsome and with that hair comb to the side just looks WAY too mature. Since my kids change so gradually in front of my eyes, I just don’t notice it. It’s only in moments like this that I get a shock to my system, because if HE is that much older, it means that *I* am older too. And I’m not ready!!! Maybe, subconsciously that’s one of the reasons I enjoy photography so much: I get to freeze time, I get to hang out with kids and just forget that whole back pain thing after a 6 mile walk. His little sis, C, was a little too serious for me that day. Of course she warmed up just around the time for us to wrap up, but I did a few grins from her in a few of her solo shots. Thank you for coming back another year guys! Always great to see you!

Saturday, November 21 2015

Belmont Family Portraits: Sweet and bitter

Belmont Family Portraits: Sweet and bitter preview photo: 0

A few years back I was incredibly fortunate to photograph this family. To this day, that family’s portrait session is one of my favorites. I was a young photographer, with lots left to learn (though in honesty my learning journey is still at its start), but I look back on that session because it reminds me of the kind of photographer I aspire to be and the kind of family portraits I want to be able to capture: fun, honest and emotional. At that time I wrote about how much awe I had of S for fight with her cancer. For awhile after this session we thought she beat it. Alas, we were not so lucky. She fought so hard, but S passed away early this year. Now I look at my most recent portrait of this family and it’s bittersweet to me. They are each awesome: funny (dry in G’s case), and kind… but I miss S. I know exactly where I’d be putting her in each picture. I know they do too. S participated in a book project: The Day My Nipple Fell Off and Other Stories of Survival, Solidarity, and Sass: A BAYS Anthology. Her writing is remarkable — it gives you all the feels, and she makes you laugh through your tears. I bring up her writing, because her essay on “And” has made an impression on me in a very big way. She wrote of her affinity for “and” because it was a word that allowed you to be multiple things at the same time. You could be happy AND sad at the same time. And it was Ok. It touched not only me, but my husband’s too, because just a week ago we used the end of our date night to make a Michael’s trip, at his behest, so we can get an ampersand sign for our home. This was because of her. I am happy to have known her, and sad that she’s not here to light up our faces some more. This session is bitter and sweet. Since photographs were important to S, I told G that for as long as I could hold a camera, I’ll be here to document his family… for as long as he wants me. I’m glad he took me up on it. You Caring is hosting an educational fund fundraiser for their wee-ones. If you are[…]See more from “Belmont Family Portraits: Sweet and bitter”

Thursday, November 19 2015

Belmont Family Photographer: A bit of personality

Belmont Family Photographer: A bit of personality preview photo: 0

Have you had anyone walk into your life, that you pair up with so well, that the idea of them not being there starts feeling weird? That’s a bit how I feel about these guys. We met through our youngest sons’ pre-school, only to discover we are neighbors. We each have two pairs of boys, same ages. Our kids get along well (they’re kind of each other’s BFFs), and my husband and I get along really with their parents. They’re great cooks, have an awesome taste in wine (let’s be clear — I’m talking about the parents here) and sense of humor. Hanging out with them has been some of the best way to spend week-end evenings. Our oldest sons share sports together, an affinity for Minecraft and Pokemon. Our littlest spend so much time together they have a sibling relationship with one another. I seriously couldn’t be happier. They joined me in a mini session event, at a local business park I’ve had my eye on for a little while. I seriously interviewed for a job there, in part because of the cool architecture. I love the colors, and the textures, down to the orange patio chairs. The only unfortunate feature was the stinky garbage smell creeping our way. This was amusing to me because just a few weeks prior I had photographed G for some professional portraits for her. It was an awesome space, with the perfect background, but since the light was best by a set of garbage cans, we spent our time trying to look pretty while holding our breath. So clearly, when I’m with these guys “smelly trash” is the theme. It’s all good — apparently it’s our good luck charm for family photos and I’ll take it. Hope you enjoy their photos — too bad the kids have so little personality ;p

Monday, November 16 2015

Cupertino Mini Session Photographer: They’re back

Cupertino Mini Session Photographer: They’re back preview photo: 0

A few months after my last session with these guys they moved away. They called Utah home for a few years, and while they were closed to family California kept calling back and they returned. I’m so happy! Not only because they’re awesome to photograph (clearly), but because they are really cool people and friends. Little S was just a wee bit the last time I saw them. We had such a great time together, and she was super cute and cooperative with me: not really something I ever expect with a 4 yr old. I think I might have made a little fan from little S day, because seeing her since their mini session she’s been extra talkative with me. I love it! For one of her photos she asked if I can take a picture of her twirling. One thing I have learned from this time as a photographer is that when a kid asks you to take a picture, you just do it. They’re engaged, they’re comfortable, it’s their idea and it’s about them. Of course, not to be out-done by his little sis, A asked to twirl too. Side by side comparison? As if I’d ever say “No!” Thanx for coming back, guys! In more ways than just returning to the Bay Area!