Welcome!

About Amy Bao Photography

Hello hello! My name is Amy and I am a Bay Area wedding photographer.

I specialize in capturing timeless images that perfectly balance photojournalism with fine art, classical with contemporary, and are full of energy and emotion. I want your most beautiful memories to look as stylish to you as they will to your grandchildren, because your wedding day, well, that is the stuff legacies are made of.

Contact me directly by emailing amy@amybaophoto.com . I would love to hear from you!

Kate + Lu | Lancaster Wedding

February 9th, 2015

If you ever wondered what it would look like when Wonder Woman weds her Dark Knight, look no further than Kate and Lu’s beautiful wedding.  Every bit the superheroes in real life, Kate and Lu met each other while working for Teach for America and have since united forces in the mission to educate America’s youth.  Surrounded by friends and family, love, and laughter, the two said “I Do” in a beautiful Catholic Ceremony in Lancaster, PA.

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Amy Bao Photography_Kate Lu Wedding_5.Reception-10In place of a guestbook, they created a globe for everyone to write their messages.

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Congratulations Kate & Lu!

Travel iPhoneography

February 9th, 2015

The best camera is the one that you have on you.

As much as I love to travel, one real downside of traveling is the increased chance of getting robbed.  A few months ago, someone at the Cologne bus station in Germany decided to relieve me of my camera bag (complete with all my camera and gear).  All I was left with were the photos on my iPhone 5S, and all I had to take photos with was said iPhone.  It was an interesting challenge, and what I discovered was that my phone was quite capable of capturing beautiful photos, and with the support of a few select apps, I’ve been quite happy with the results.

So for those who want to take nice travel photos without having to carry around a heavy DSLR + lenses (or, god forbid, you also find yourself in my situation), here’s how you work your phone.  (I can only speak for my model of iPhone, but my assumption would be that later models as well as other smart phones with quality camera capabilities will fall under the same category).

The Basics:

Hold that phone still.  Brace yourself against a wall or something stable if you must.  A sharp, in focus image will almost always look better and more professional than a blurry one.  It’s worth the few extra seconds to prepare.  You can also try taking a deep breath and slowly exhale as you take the photo to steady yourself.  This is especially important in low lighting situations such as during sunsets and sunrises.

Turn off your flash.  Don’t set it on auto, set it on off.  I have yet to come across a situation where the flash helped me get a better photo.

Keep your lens clean.  If you start noticing that your photos are looking a bit gray or unclear, you might just have a dirty lens that needs to be wiped off.

Exposure:

Because it’s much harder to control exposure on your camera phone compared to a DSLR, I generally try to expose for the sky, even if it means underexposing the rest of the image, when I’m faced with less than ideal lighting situations.  On the iPhone, you can tap on the area of the image you want to expose for.  Under lighting conditions with lots of contrast, you will have a very bright section (oftentimes the sky) and when you tap that area, the rest of the scenery will go dark if not black, and if you expose for a darker area (usually the foreground), then the sky might become blown out and just look white.  So the reason I choose to underexpose is because it’s easier to pull details out of the shadows than out of the overblown areas with a nifty little app called Photoshop Express.  There is a function called Shadows, and all you have to do is slide it to the right and it will bring out the details in the shadows without changing the lighter areas.  I also like to bump up Vibrance for for a little more color and the Bueno filter to sharpen the image further.  The result has a bit of HDR feel, which I like in landscapes.

Here are some before and afters:

IMG_7437Souq Waqif in Doha, Qatar

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IMG_5903Ballerina on the Charles Bridge.  Prague, Czech Republic

Composition and isolating the subject:

When taking photos of people with a phone camera, you have to be extra conscious of the composition.  With a DSLR and a good lens, it’s fairly easy to isolate or draw attention to your subject simply by opening up the aperture, creating a shallow depth of field, with the focus on the person and the rest of the image blurred out.  You can’t really do that with your phone, and composition becomes even more important in making sure your subject doesn’t get lost or clash with the background.  Even in the ballerina photo above, you can see the problem area where her leg intersects with the lamppost and both are in full focus.  If I had shot this with my DSLR, she would have been in focus and the lamp would have been blurred to separate the two.

Here are a few photos I took of my parents in Sri Lanka and the Maldives with my phone that turned out a bit better.

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Maldives pano

Macro:

If you want to take a close up of something small, it’s possible!  It’s also the one time that the phone camera is pretty good about creating a shallow depth of field.  The key here is to hold the phone extremely still and be patient, it’ll struggle with focus but it’ll get there.

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I set my phone on the table for extra stability to get this shot of a hermit crab.

All that being said, there are many positives to taking travel photos with your phone.  For one, it comes with a very wide angle lens and the capability of panning is excellent for landscapes.  A good wide angle lens can be quite expensive, and for a photographer like me, not one I would use often for weddings and portraits.

IMG_7178Sri Lankan Tea Plantations

iceland pano 2Jokusarlon Glacial Lagoon, Iceland

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IMG_7262Seaside town in Iceland.

It also makes it so much easier to quickly edit and share photos.  I really enjoy posting travel photos on Instagram and then looking at photos that others have taken in the same location.  I also like to preserve the ratio of the image instead of defaulting to square.  Squaready is a good app for adding the white space above and below the image for this purpose.

A few more photos for your enjoyment and I can be found on Instagram @amyxbao

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Kara + Mitchell | MIT Wedding

February 9th, 2015

Although it might not have been love at first sight, fate would not allow these two to go their separate ways.  Mutual friend circles and a shared love for authentic Chinese food that required going far out of their way (where few others wanted to follow) eventually brought these two together.  Classmates at CalTech and MIT (smartypants), Kara and Mitchell tied the knot on a lovely summer day at the MIT Chapel, followed by a stately reception at the Commander’s Mansion.

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Amy Bao Photography_Kara Mitchell MIT Wedding-78A quiet moment to go over her vows one last time.

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Congratulations Kara and Mitchell.  May you have a lifetime of happiness together.

Rena’s Maternity Photoshoot | Baker Beach, San Francisco

May 23rd, 2014

Rena’s only request for her photoshoot – it had to be fun!  So superheros and belly paint it is.

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The real Incredibles family.

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Tess & Andy, Married! | A Holman Ranch Wedding

March 16th, 2014

   Tess and Andy tied the knot on a charming ranch nestled in the hills of Carmel Valley last October.  They found a venue so breathtakingly beautiful that it hardly needed any embellishments.  The event itself was fun and laid-back, full of joy, love, and laughter.  The reception dinner was a meatball feast (one of Andy’s favorite foods) and in lieu of a cake, they had an ice-cream sandwich station!

When the bride and the wedding planner are one and the same, you know the wedding will be perfect down to the last detail.  Enjoy!

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Amy Bao Photography_Tess Andy Wedding_Holman Ranch-7Working hard at her own wedding.

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Amy Bao Photography_Tess Andy Wedding_Holman Ranch-10The seating chart was a work of art, in and of itself.

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Amy Bao Photography_Tess Andy Wedding_Holman Ranch-21The boys struggled with the bow-tie, proving once and for all that everyone is basically just lost without Tess.

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Congratulations Tess & Andy!!

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Wedding Planner: Tess Crompton at tess@tesscromptonevents.com

Flowers: Fleurs du Soleil

Venue: Holman Ranch

Tess & Andy | Featured!

December 13th, 2013

Tess and Andy are featured on WeddingWire!  Stay tuned for more photos from their wedding.

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Ayush and Swati | San Francisco Engagement Photography

December 13th, 2013

They didn’t believe in love at first sight.  But then they met each other.

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Amy Bao Photography_SwatiAyush_San Francisco_Engagement-14Photobombed by a homeless dude – San Francisco, it was bound to happen right?

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Congratulations you two!  See you in India in February!

Tess & Andy | San Francisco Engagement Shoot

September 19th, 2013

She’s from San Francisco and he’s from New York, so they decided to use the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge as the theme of their wedding.  For their engagement shoot, we knew we wanted to incorporate the Golden Gate Bridge as much as possible, but as we were about to head out, we could tell from their window that the bridge was complete covered in fog (while the rest of San Francisco was sunny and clear).  Nevertheless, we wanted to try our luck, and fortune has it, Fort Point is situated directly under the southern end of this beautiful structure.

Then we headed over the bridge to the Marin Headlands – the view was unbelievable.

Epic.  Straight out of the movies.

Too adorable.  They’re so good at making each other laugh!

And we’ll end with some Cornell pride.

Can’t wait to see you two at your wedding!

Family Photoshoot in Santa Clara

July 13th, 2013

I recently moved up to the Bay Area and was able to catch up with a friend from college, who is now married with two little girls.  Check out how adorable they are!

Coming from such a musical family, these girls are going to be rockstars.

An attempt at introducing a new toy, but Mariana just wants to eat it.

So calmly focused on yanking mommy’s hair and removing daddy’s glasses.

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It’s been a long while since my last post, but now my move is over and I’m settling into the Bay Area so expect to see new photos on the blog.  Come visit me often!

Karl | Santa Monica Pier Lifestyle Shoot

March 4th, 2013

The waves were crashing against the shore.  The shops and restaurants on the pier were opening and getting ready for the day.  A group of marathoners and some joggers were getting in other people’s way.  A few tourists were wandering around with their fanny packs.  The sun was shining and the seagulls were doing their seagull-y thing.  A winter morning in LA, not too shabby.

This was probably the most editorial shoot I’ve done to date, hope you enjoyed it!

 

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