Half moon bay maternity session


I was so excited about this maternity session that I literally shot it the day after we returned from Japan.

This gold dress came from my closet and was actually a contender as a bridesmaid dress in my wedding. The straps are convertible and the material is so soft and stretchy, and also comes in many colors. Pretty sure if you search “convertible dress,” you’d have no problem with finding it and its many color variations.

This session was taken on medium format film, Fuji 400h (rated at 200), and scanned at my favorite lab, photovision.

You can see more of Thuy and this beautiful maternity session here.
This is her second baby and I feel so honored to be documenting this special, yet fleeting moment in her motherhood. Sending her lots of love for the rest of her pregnancy. Can’t wait to meet the little babe!


Japan on Film


This was our first morning in Japan. I took this right outside our airbnb in Tokyo at 4:30 in the morning. Yes, you saw that right. That means sun rises at 4:45am in Japan; the only time having jet lag came in handy.

More photos of our cute airbnb below:








Our host had a little 2 year old boy and he was so adorable. Our mornings were always filled with his sweet Japanese chatter, made being away from home and my pups a little more bearable.


Our first “meal” in Japan was these green tea scones filled with red bean paste. I know, so not what you expected, right? No worries, we made up for it with plenty of ramen, sushi, and udon during the rest of our trip.


Japan was filled with “best-thing-we ever-ate” and this was definitely one; the mille crepe. Yes, layers and layers of crepe. It was soft, light, airy, and… ugh…now I want one!





Animals will always have my heart, wherever I go.
Cat cafe, dog cafe, owl cafe, and hedgehog cafe, yes, we went to them all. And Nara’s Deer park? We visited it twice. The deers were cute and a bit aggressive if you have a biscuit. The trick to get them to bow to you? Bow to them first and reward them with a biscuit. You’re welcome. šŸ™‚

So what do you do when you visit a country known for their beautiful shrines but you’re not really a shrine person? Well, if you’re anything like us, you’d just go to one shrine. So, no travel fatigue yet no FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s a win-win.



So, we chose the Fushimi Inari Shrine. The red gates are known as torii gates, donated by individuals and companies to bring them good fortune in their business endeavors. If you’re wondering if I thought about donating a gate in the name of my photography business, the answer is “yes, indeed.” But if you’re wondering if I had the $10k needed to purchase one, the answer is a resounding “nope.”


We didn’t enter this particular shrine, but I just simply wanted something on film in Kurama where we had a pretty relaxing time staying at a Ryokan and experiencing our first Onsen (hot spring.)

There’s still so much more that were taken on digital but I would say these were the highlight of our trip plus a few missing food photos. Pretty sure I came back with a 10 lb food baby. šŸ˜‰


Life lately: photographer edition

Something exciting happened!

I had the opportunity to assist Bea from Luna de Mare Photography with two of her engagement sessions in SF last week and now I think I’m in love with her!

Also, in true SF fashion, my car got towed. I can never seem to enter and exit SF without a mishap. The last time I was there, I received a ticket for turning my wheels the wrong way on a slope. SF sure knows how to passive aggressively tell me I’m not welcomed there. Anyway, I’m just going to make like a persistent friend dying to get out of the friend zone and keep coming back for more because we all know SF is just trying to play hard-to-get, right? šŸ™‚

Here are some behind the scenes of Bea in her element:

Then on Saturday, I was invited to take photos of some gorgeous florals from a wedding in Sausalito:

This floral chandelier can’t be anymore gorgeous! Vofloral at their best.

Can’t wait for these film scans to come back. I’m a little nervous though because the center of the hall was darker than I expected. I’m asking the lab to push the films a few stops, hopefully I made the right choice, but we’ll see!

What I’m even more excited about though is this pretty bride-to-be boudoir shoot! Gosh, if you ever have the opportunity to shoot boudoir, I can almost guarantee it will be one of your favorite kinds of sessions.

iPhone preview below. You bet I’ll be updating you with the film scans once they’re in!

Jet lagged

Our 2nd day back from Japan and I have to get up for work in about 5 hours and I can’t fall asleep despite laying here with my eyes closed for the past 3 hours. Help?

In brief, I’m really glad to be back home. Nothing bad happened on the trip. But 3 days in, I became terribly homesick and started missing my pups at every hour. We’re highly reconsidering shortening our Iceland trip in September to avoid feeling this way a second time. Gosh, when did I become such a homebody?

Also, it felt nice to be back in the groove shooting sessions again! Below is a digital shot of the location of this past weekend’s maternity session off the coast of California at Halfmoon Bay. Isn’t it lovely? Surely missed this while in Japan too. Film scans to come! 

Why you shouldn’t DIY your wedding flowers

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to re-live a part of my wedding day, but on a much better scale! Not only did I have my face and hair professionally made up (thanks Emily!), but man, I got to hold the most beautiful bouquet!


Photo by Esmeralda Franco
Flowers by Vo Floral
Makeup and hair by Emily

Truth be told, I’ve been trying to suppress my regret for DIY-ing my own wedding florals. I don’t like dwelling onĀ the past I can’t control. But in all honesty, I cringe a little whenever I see photos of my bouquet and centerpeices. I don’t think they turned out bad under the circumstances I was given to create them. But a part of me wishes they were more spectacular. A part of me wishes they added more elegance to the wedding, especially when looking back at photos.

I took on this misleadingly simple task of doing my own florals to help cut down costs. There were a lot that I thought I did in order to prepare the best I could. I did trial runs. I made several trips to the flower market to scout the flowers. I watched Youtube videos and read blogs. I researched and did a bunch of calculations. Did I mention the only experience I had was one time when I assembled four bouquets for my cousin’s wedding? I didn’t know it at the time but that definitely didn’t qualify me enough to think I could assemble 18 centerpieces and 6 bouquets, and execute them well.

Yes, I thought I was well prepared leading up to the big day. I’m not normally easily stressed, but it was completely silly of me to think I would be immune to the stress-storm that’s naturally associated with planning a wedding. Now add the additional stress of taking care of your own flowers. Are you hyperventilating yet? I am just thinking about it all over again. So I guess you can say I miscalculated, by a lot.

I’ve listed below five mishaps I’m sure wouldn’t have happened if I had hired a professional wedding florist.

  1. I didn’t purchase enough of the right flowers. Not all flowers are created equal. Some are not the most photogenic. Some are dead upon arrival. I didn’t know that I needed to take into account that the reason florists purchase about 20% more than they need is so that they can pick and choose the best and the brightest.
  2. My helpers didn’t show up.
    The day before my wedding, I had planned to have all five of my sisters help. But I forgot to consider that they also had other duties they needed to take care of for the wedding. So there I was, from 6am to 3pm, I had no choice but to do it all, solo. Actually, I wasn’t even able to complete it all before rehearsal, so I had to spend an additional 3 hours after rehearsal to assemble the rest. I wasn’t finished until midnight the night before the wedding. I don’t think that’s how any brides would have wanted to spend their night before the wedding.
  3. My bouquet had only one good angle. Any seasonal florists would have known to focus on multiple angles. I definitely was not a seasonal florist and it was obvious.
  4. We forgot about transportation. 18 centerpeices and it slipped my mind to consider how they will get to the venue. We eventually decided to disperse them in 3 different vehicles. Ā Because they were not well situated in the oversized boxes, some vases tipped over, water spilled, and you can guess what happens when flowers don’t have enough water.
  5. My flowers started wilting before guests arrived. The combination of the lack of water and choosing flowers like hydrageas and dahlias that were unbeknownst to me to wilt easily, led toĀ centerpieces looking very lack-luster by the time reception came around.

When photos came back, I had moments of regret, a few “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.” Fortunately, with the help of some good friends, I had a mini do-over. This time, I didn’t need to stress nor think about anything. I just showed up and was given a beautifully arranged bouquet to hold. Equally important, they photographed exquisitely. But what are the chances brides are given the same chance? Very small I’d say. But I think most brides are more clever than I am and already planned to prioritize professional florists into their wedding budget. But for future brides in the process of planning your own wedding, I hope my experience helps you decide or validate your decision to hire a professional florist.

Cheers and happy planning!


Our Japan Itinerary

Day 1 to 10: Eat all the foods! With a side of Geisha hunting.

We’re leaving for Japan Wednesday at the break of dawn (why must all the cheap flights leave so darn early??). Sometimes, I fantasize about upgrading to first class especially on long flights like these, then I get hit with the reality that it’ll likely cost a lung and both kidneys. I like to keep all my organs for now if I can.

Wish us luck! Hoping Kallen doesn’t pull another panic attack like the one in Bali!

Going to miss these buggers a ton!