Q & A | How I Got Started in Photography

Hi darlings,

I know, I know it's been months since I have updated you all. My sincere apologies. Here's a mini update though, I got married to my best friend about a month ago and the day was a bit hectic but exciting. So I guess you can say, my life was a bit chaotic at the time. If you guys would like a recap of it, let me know and I'll make another blog post about the big day and the preparation leading up to it. Otherwise, here were a few questions that I received over on my instagram having to do with how I started photography, what inspires me, etc., and I thought since I have been asked plenty of these specific questions, I would make it easier and feature a few on my blog.

1. How did you get into photography? 
It all started when my good friend, Heather Graves introduced me to the world of photography. We were both juniors in high school (around 2005/2006) and she needed a model to pose for her. Every time we shot together, I was fascinated by the whole process from start to finish. To me, it's incredibly inspiring to watch someone have so much passion and love for their craft. She inspired me to pick up a camera and start shooting. 

2. Were you always a creative person growing up?
I like to think, yes. Most children are but some people tend to go with it more. I always sang, wrote songs, drew horribly, and created because it was joyful. I was also bored a lot of the time so I would use my imagination as much as I could. Besides photography, music and singing has always been a creative outlet. I have said many times before but singing is and always will be my first passion in life. 

3. Is photography a hobby or something that you do professionally? 
It started out as a hobby and as I continually grew, it turned into something so much more. Being able to meet so many different people and connecting with them through photos and interaction really brought myself out of my comfort zone. Naturally, I am super reserved and I guess you can say, an extroverted introvert but photography has made me to be more confident. I also love love love showing other people their beauty through my eyes. I know, super cheesy but it's true. Photography really sparked a fire in me and I hope it shows through my photos with each person I have the pleasure of working with. Being my own boss has given me so much freedom to create, network, and grow as not only an artist but as a person too. So yes, I would consider myself a professional. 

4. Did you go to school for photography? 
I did not. Everything I have learned was self taught, through trial and error, and lots and lots of experimenting around. Seriously, the internet is such a huge resource and you can find pretty much anything online to how to do this or how to do that. The best learning is hands on. I went to school and have my BA in Psychology and Human development. I do find it's good to have a back up if in case this didn't work out for me. 

5. Did you have a mentor in photography? 
Not entirely. I would ask my friends here and there some questions but like I said, I am very to myself so I was kind of shy when it came to asking questions. 

6. How would you describe yourself as a photographer?
 It's always hard to describe my work because to be completely honest, I feel weird doing so. I want to say creative, passionate, a little moody, and expressive. 

7. What is the most intimidating factor in photography?
At the moment, I am learning more about studio lighting. I mainly shoot natural light and use whatever is around. There's always something to learn in any field so I constantly strive to educate myself more. I wouldn't necessarily say it's intimidating but more along the lines of interesting. 

8. Were your friends and family supportive? 
It took a lot of time for my parents to understand that running my own photography business was what I wanted to do full time. It's definitely not the traditional way, especially coming from a Chinese Vietnamese background to have their child go to university, graduate, and then go off and just do something creative instead. It wasn't in the norm of what they knew. Nowadays they are way more supportive because I am able to be happy with what I am doing and be able to make a living as well. I am grateful. As for my friends, they have always been supportive. I am forever grateful for all of their support and love. 

9. Do you ever feel anxious when sharing new work? 
No, not as much anymore. I create because I absolutely love it and it's fun to share what inspired me at the time. I do, however get a little anxious when I shoot for a client and showcase the photos to them afterward. Although, I feel that's completely normal to have those jitterbugs. I just hope they see how much love I put into their shots. 

10. What is one item you never forget to take along with you when shooting? 
Extra batteries and memory cards. You never know when you will need extra. I should also bring an extra camera body. I know, that was more than one thing but I couldn't think of one. There was this one time I had two senior sessions in San Francisco and I thought I had forgotten my batteries. I nearly had a heart attack but luckily they were stowed away in my pocket. So yes, definitely got to be prepared! 

11. What does an average day in the life of Anny look like? 
I normally plan to wake up somewhat early but not super early because if you didn't know, I am not a early morning person so you're looking at around 9 - 10:00AM. I will usually go on my phone and check out pinterest, emails, and instagram. I know, so exciting. If I am feeling extra good, I will try to do a bit of stretching and yoga but most days I am lazy and I won't do it until later in the evening. You will usually find me in the kitchen making myself a snack and some breakfast. I also love to walk my dogs and think of what food to eat next. 

12. Lastly, what advice would you give aspiring photographers? 
Keep on shooting, experimenting, learning, and to grow as not only an artist but as a beautiful human being. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and try new techniques. It's always good to have an open mind and to know that not everyone works the same way. You can go at your own speed. Ultimately, have fun! 

If you have more questions for me, please feel free to email me at annytophotography@gmail.com (photography related) OR annytophotography@yahoo.com (model and other inquiries) 

Thank you guys for all the love and support! XO

** Images taken by my husband, Adam / Edited by myself! **

Lots of love, 


  1. Love this post! I'm so happy to see you are blogging again. I see that we come from similar backgrounds :) Somewhat. My parents are Chinese but were born in Vietnam. I feel like I've always been creative too but have been fighting for the balance between the norm of going to a university, and still being creative on my own time. It's tough when you come from a family who doesn't approve of just being happy. I find it hard to explain to other people because they'll just say "It's your life, you should do whatever you want" but it's not always that easy. Anyway, I feel like I'm ranting, but it's really nice to (sort of) meet someone who is from a similar background but following through with their creative passions. I wish you the best! :)


    1. Hey Linda!

      Thanks for the reply. It's awesome to meet another gal pal who can relate. Just finding that balance is the hard part but if you're determined and motivated enough, you can make it work. I know it's totally hard but ultimately you got to do what makes your soul come alive. It's fine to do the regular routine that is expected but don't forget to set some time for yourself too. I hope that made sense and I wish you all the luck! We will have to meet up for some snacks and boba!



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