Larkin Small Photography | Blog



Girl Riding A UnicornGirl Riding A Unicorn


October 11, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Family Photography With A Conscience: 

We are working to raise $1500 for ScholarMatch this October. 


Located on Valencia Street in the Mission, ScholarMatch is a local non-profit organization that helps low-income kids with the financial, planning, and networking resources get into and make it through college.

As an added bonus this October, when you sign up for a Halloween Mini Photography Session with Larkin Small Photography, or purchase an additional package, ScholarMatch will benefit directly

For the past few years, I've seen photos of the scholarship recipients in the windows of ScholarMatch on Valencia Street, and I've melted every time. 

This year, I'm very happy to aid in the efforts of making higher education accessible to under-resourced youth.

Getting into college can be tough and scary even with people surrounding you who can help financially and who understand the process. Take the resources away, and college becomes an out of reach option for many youth.

This October, you can do something fun for your family and help to change young lives forever.  


Check out the details!


Halloween is my favorite holiday!

To celebrate, I am creating a fun, family friendly event in the Mission.

We will be giving treats, instead of tricks!


Families will be welcomed to their session by our resident WIZARD, & have their photos taken by a LIVE DOLL!

After being led down a spooky hallway, they'll enjoy a quick & fun mini photography session!

The session includes the best session photo printed on a VERY COOL natural maple wood block, & a customized app with the best 3 session photos. 

Mini Sessions are sweet, easy ways to get to know a photographer and invest in your family!


There will be special, Halloween Mini Sessions-only packages available for purchase.

These printed collections make beautiful, heirloom art for your walls, or for gifts.

This is a great time to be thinking about what to gift Grandma & Grandpa this year.



Please call (510) 421-1952 or email

to talk about your session, and book your fun this Halloween!


Worth A Thousand

August 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

iPhone photos!

Here is the best reason I can give you to hire a photographer (me!) on your San Francisco vacation:

Reasons To Hire A Photographer in San Francisco!

My beloved and I were lucky enough to make a trip to Paris this June. Our plane was leaving SFO on Monday. Friday night, I decided that the one souvenir I wanted from France (besides some glorious perfume, bien sûr!), were photos. With 2 days before departure, it was fixed firmly in my mind that I MUST HAVE PHOTOS!!! 

I had decided not to travel with my gear. I really, really wanted a true vacation, and that meant a vacation from being The Photographer. However, photos are important to me, so I took my iPhone (which was quite fun and quite freeing!) and a vintage Canon AE-1, which I ended up not using even once, once I made the choice to hire a professional. Making that decision took a huge weight off of my mind about having to take nice photos, and I really could have used a lighter bag!

Right before our vacation, I had just gone through about twenty years' worth of photographs, many of them were from my first trip to Paris over a decade ago. Mixed into a pound or two of poorly shot prints of architecture, were a few photos of me looking hot, bored, and uncomfortable... but in Paris! I was quite awkward in front of a camera back then. I still am, but now I trust in the power of a professional.

Going through all of those bad photos did the trick. I decided to invest in a souvenir that would last, and which I would not outgrow, get tired of, or eat. I was able to set up a last-minute session, and the experience was well worth it. My partner was excited, and I was pleased to have some stellar photos to share and to frame, which interest the viewer, and which flatter us as the subjects.

Would I do it again? You betcha! I'm almost looking forward to another 10 hour plane ride in a year or two! Until then, see you in San Francisco!


June 09, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I had a great photoshoot with recent SFSU graduate Ashley. She and her parents wanted some photographs to commemorate her achievement, and of course, I was thrilled to be a part of it!

Graduation shoots are a wonderful way to ritualize what is a very big moment of transition in many of our lives. Speaking personally, I wish that I had partaken in some sort of ritual to mark the occasion of my graduation. For timing reasons, I did not walk in my school's graduation ceremony, and while I don't at all miss not having sat in a hard plastic chair for 5 interminable hours, I do wish that I had known of a way to pay tribute to all of the hard work I had done, and acknowledge that I was now moving on, and into young adulthood.

Graduation can be a really scary time. For many, it is the last shelter of childhood, and as we receive our diploma, we, and all the rest of our culture recognize that it is now time to "grow up." This can be nerve-wracking, even as it is exciting. It's a great time to take stock, take pride, and say to everyone "I did it!"

I adore the inherent symbolism of photos taken by moving water: we chose Sutro Baths, as Ashley had spent a lot of time hiking the trail to the Legion of Honor, where we ended. I think the images will tell you the rest of the story pretty well!


Headshots Vs. Portraits

May 12, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I love putting my website together bit by bit, which has brought me to answering this question:

What is the difference between a headshot, versus a portrait? I'll tell you the subtle and not-so-subtle differences from my perspective as a photographer who runs her own business, and must be cognizant of time, aesthetic, and cost.


A headshot is fairly standardized, in terms of look, time, and end-use.



Let's talk about a standardized aesthetic:

When I am working for a company, they might have specifications that the image needs to adhere to: for instance, I always ask the aspect ratio I'll need to be delivering. Portrait (3:2) and square (1:1) aspect ratios are the most common to work with, as a head can easily be framed and a standardized output generated with these two options. Shooting to a square is great these days as it fits profile spots for LinkedIn, Facebook, and even circles, like Instagram, Twitter, and Gmail.

When I'm running a headshot session at a company, having a standardized aspect ratio does 3 things:

It allows me to work more quickly, since I know the look I am going for, both aesthetically and technically. I don't have to fiddle around much with either my camera or the subject, and I can communicate efficiently to my sitter what to do. This means I can maximize my short time with each individual in order to get their best angle and work around any quirks such as a nervous laugh, or misbehaving hair.

It lets me process the photos more quickly in post, thereby keeping costs down for both me and for the company.

The deliverables can quickly and easily be plugged into the company's existing framework without any extra work on their part.


When I'm working for a private client, a headshot's aesthetic will still be fairly standardized, but there is a little more play in what I am able to do with my client: how we can work together, and what I can offer in terms of feedback, ideas, rapport, and artistry. 

In my studio, I offer standardization by offering one background, expecting hair and makeup to be ready upon the client's arrival, and setting expectations about time spent and images delivered. 



Another way to standardize a headshot is the element of time: A series of headshots done in a "school picture-day" sort of way simply isn't going to be as artistic, or allow for as much creative freedom, as a portrait session will.

Whether I'm shooting a traditional headshot in-studio or at a workplace, making a connection with my client is crucial in order to capture a genuinely comfortable looking smile or other expression, but there's simply not going to be as much "switching it up" as there is in a portrait session. After all, if only one image is needed, then you only need the best one. Anything extra will be too much!


Finally, the cropping on a headshot is fairly standardized. If I am working with a 1:1 aspect ratio (square) then I will limit the frame to 1-2 inches above the head, extend out to the shoulders (+/- 1 to 2 inches) and end the bottom of the frame just above bust height. (I have noticed that if my sitter is a woman, they sometimes like to have a bit more body showing so as to minimize how much real estate their head takes up. I happily accommodate this request.)

When I am working a standard headshot for private clients, I will shoot in portrait orientation for a 3:2 aspect ratio, and get the full range of their shoulders in the shot, as it gives a more easeful aesthetic to the image. (See two images above.)

Some of my clients like to have alternative, more creative headshots. This is great! We can go for color, texture, and tell a little more story about who they are. At this point, the variables that determine what I call the end result, is the intended use. This is why I have "creative, artistic headshots" for private clients.  

A portrait offers a deeper look into the heart of personality inherent in an individual, not just a "thumbnail snapshot." Artistic headshots blur this line.

For portraits, I tend to throw all of the rules out the window! I will shoot in any aspect ratio I please, with a final composition in mind. Time spent is longer, we can move to different locations, outfits may be changed, and we'll be chatting a lot, which leads to a very sweet spot where the energy starts flowing between us like liquid gold. I call this experience of divine grace - Love.

So, now that you know more about what I do and how I do it, you know who to call!

Love and Snapshots,


16px of Excitement

April 28, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Hooo boy, am I ever excited! See that small turquoise heart on the browser tab, which is visible if you open another tab? I've got a favicon up and running! 

To be more specific, it is an aperture heart!

Life is made up of a million small details and moments. I'm very happy to have a favicon that sparks joy for me. 

What small things make your heart skip a beat?

Favicon for Larkin Small PhotographyFavicon for Larkin Small Photography

Oh, Spring Has Sprung!

April 14, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Along with it, my excitement!

Winter was a long space of turning inward, cleaning house both in the material and mental realms.

I'm so excited to get back to doing the work that I love, and most importantly: making it accessible!

Stay tuned for changes on the website, updates on work, and fun posts sharing the wisdom I've gained over the past few years of paying my dues!

Love & snapshots, 



Made for WalkinPut a little spring in your step! Great photos will do that for you!



Good Cheer

December 07, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Where did November go?! 

For me, it disappeared into a whirl of quick shutter clicks and the sparkle of jewelry - over 2,000 pieces

In-between photographing families having their moments and other end-of-year/holiday/Christmas/New Year activities, 2016 is rushing in.

I will be lucky if I get a quiet moment to enjoy the quiet contemplation of our Christmas tree this month... thank goodness I have some photos to save the memories!

Christmas in San Francisco. This is one of my favorite times of the year to work: it's significant for just about everyone, and it's quite an honor to be part of a family's fun night of getting together, or to be the one capturing memories for a larger party in a private home. I've also been hired to do business parties in a more corporate setting. Either way, cheer is just so fun to spread! I love how in the Bay Area, there is a lot of cross-pollination of holidays: it lends quite a warmth of inclusion to the season. Family, Friends, & Business Christmas Party in San Francisco, CA. This season, I hope you get to surround yourself with loved ones, family, and friends while you cozy up under a tree, or light radiant candles of remembrance.  Family, Friends, and Business Party in San Francisco, CA. And remember: you can always call me to capture your moment, and take a piece off your plate!


Love & Snapshots, 


Do It For Yourself

November 11, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Ahhh, what a day, what a week! 

I'm feeling reflective today. 

Being in business for one's self is a mixed bag of experience. Sometimes it's a joy: the shoot is smooth sailing, the client pays on time, the sun is at the perfect level on the horizon, everyone is smiling, no one is crying or needs a nap. Sometimes it's a downright challenge: the wifi is glitchy, every task is taking longer than you'd like it to, you forgot to do something last week, the sun is hiding behind the clouds, you've been working 8 hours and you've got 4 more to go.  

But whatever. You're doing it for yourself. 

'Cause that's where the magic lives.

Magic Ball

On every shoot I go to, I try to shoot for portfolio-quality images.

For me, that means pristine, emotive, beautiful, well-composed, candid AND structured. 

It's not always possible to have a shoot that you are super-proud of though.

This photo was the one photo I loved from a very trying event. The lighting was dim, the space was dingy as hell - the event was in a garage, of all places, the customers looked like they'd already put in a few hard nights, and to give even a bit more context around the event: there was a couch I sat on for about a minute... until I and another guest noticed that it smelled like a combination of urine and a pile of unwashed bodies.

Some nights are like that when you're paying your dues. But there can always be a moment that you take for yourself. A momentary spark of delight, the unexpected magic in the room. The reason you're doing what you're doing. 

Do it for yourself. Shoot for yourself. Always. That's when you're giving it your all, and making your own magic.


Love & Snapshots, 


Snapshots: Halloween

November 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

One of the perks of being a photographer is, of course, having an awesome camera at your disposal at all times!!

Cell phone photos have their place, but I do LOVE a good shot of myself and my loved ones in action. 

Halloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder CostumesHalloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder Costumes

For Halloween this year, my beloved and I dressed up as Grounders from the (AMAZING) CW show The 100.

As I heard my counterpart say many times throughout the night " gets good around episode 4!"

Whatever. The costumes are amazing, and quite frankly, so were we. 

Hope you had a fun, freaky, spooky, safe Halloween!

Halloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder CostumesHalloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder Costumes Halloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder CostumesHalloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder Costumes Halloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder CostumesHalloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder Costumes Halloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder CostumesHalloween San Francisco 2015 The 100 Grounder Costumes


Late Night Buzz: Headshots & Portfolio Pieces

October 26, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Do you know any photographers who are early birds? I don't. I'm burning the midnight oil again, buzzing through a small catalog of new-hire headshots I shot last week for a rapidly growing start-up in San Francisco.

It was a little challenging to shoot 19 people in an hour and fifteen minutes: that's just under 4 minutes per person. Running through them quickly wasn't the hard part: getting them to relax in front of my camera, direct them, and trust me was the challenge. I think I managed pretty well, and after 4 years of business practice, I was able to fully understand what it means to "not take it personally" when someone didn't relax, or weren't quite satisfied with how they looked in-camera. I did my best: it's certainly not the easiest task to build rapport with a total stranger in 4 minutes, to the level of having them open up and show you their true selves.

You other snappers out there got any tips for building a quick & trusting rapport with adults?

I like to introduce myself, SMILE, ask their name, give the photographer's handshake (left-handed squeeze :), ask what they do, and then get a bit ridiculous with them if need be. Making a bit of a fool out of myself with silly jokes is not totally out of the question. Whatever gets the job done! 

While I wait for the answer of the vast, wide interwebs, please enjoy my favorite photos to come out of the day... I didn't expect any super-sweet portfolio pieces, but I was pleasantly surprised a few times. My favorite set follows.

Love & snapshots,


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