Premier family portrait photographer in Walnut Creek » outdoor and studio portraits in the SF Bay Area, CA

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Hello! My name is Gretchen Adams and I am a professional portrait photographer based in the SF Bay Area. I have been specializing in capturing images of families, professional headshots, and high school seniors in beautiful outdoor locations since 1999.  While casual in nature, my portraits are always polished and refined to command a place of honor in the family home.  My boutique studio offers a limited number of portrait sessions every month to ensure that each of my clients receive my full attention to detail and styling to result in the most timeless, cherished, family heirloom portraits and beautiful display options. Please use the PORTFOLIO tab at the top of the screen to view samples of my current work. 

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High school senior portraits are important in every way

high school senior portraits san ramon ca gretchen adams photographyHigh school senior portraits are a long-standing tradition—a tradition that represents a step taken toward the adult world
. This milestone deserves to be marked, and for many decades now, senior students have been getting their own personal photographs to help mark this milestone.

The trick to getting that absolutely spot-on high school senior portraits is to be sure that the personality and character of the student shows through. Many times, shooting on location is the best way to do this. On location shooting helps reflect the interests, habits and loves of the student while still ensuring quality photos. Whether the senior wants good head shots or wants pictures on the hood of their classic car, a high-quality photographer can ensure that the final results are more than worth the effort.

We know that you and your high school seniors are in the midst and chaos of one of the busiest times of the new adult’s life, so Gretchen Adams Photography does everything within our power to snap a great shot with minimal fuss. What this means is that it’s up to you to contact us and set up a time when we can begin this fun process. We’ll all plan the shoot from the top of A to the bottom of Z, coordinating locations, poses, looks—all of it. That’s one of the incredibly enjoyable parts, we’ve found, for everyone involved.

Students who’ve spent their high school lives playing a sport or instrument might like to don their letterman jackets, poms, or use their saxophones and violins as props. Some students really like to be photographed doing a certain activity, like drawing or playing with a pet. Others really enjoy straight on, face-forward headshots. Either way, it’s important that you, at the end of the day, be happy with the final product.

To all you seniors out there, these photographs are an important part of senior year, and are the pictures that parents will send out to family and friends and with graduation announcements as well. To that end, it’s pretty crucial that you get the very best photographs possible. Many times these headshots are the treasured mementos of this time of life and are those that will be kept for many years to come.

If the student is looking for a photographer who can generate something creative or of a certain quality for them, we at Gretchen Adams Photography, in combination with the student, can work together until that quest for awesome senior portraits is realized.

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The message your business headshot is sending about your brand

headshots for professionals in the SF Bay Area Gretchen Adams PhotographyHeadshots have become a unique marketing tool in online and print advertising. Although this type of photography was once primarily considered to be the kingdom of models and actors, many business professionals are finding that clients consider it very comforting to know who they’re doing business with. These professional pictures give your prospective customers an insight not only into your services but also into your personality, as a lot of information is conveyed by just seeing your facial expression and stance.

the science of facial reading

Although we don’t always note it consciously, we make judgments about people from impressions that can last as short as 100 milliseconds. These quickly formed opinions are a combination of your upbringing, environment, and also the way the brain fires off messages. What’s important to remember here, is that the brain registers certain features and expressions in order to evoke an emotional response. From an artistic standpoint, we refer to this as “aesthetic.” From the standard perspective, it’s simply the way you achieve a greater openness and sense of empathy from your clients. Subtle aspects, such as how deeply your mouth is turned upwards or how widely your eyes are open, will evoke different emotions from the people you’re trying to reach.

At Gretchen Adams Photography, we can help you achieve professional headshots that will really speak to your audience. Not only can we take flattering pictures to promote you and your business, but we can also guide you when it comes to achieving your most honest expressions. We understand that simply smiling isn’t always the answer to attracting new people.

the nature of realism

Another aspect that your customers will tap into very quickly is how real a visual appears. Although headshots are posed, our trick is that they are naturally posed. We often take a series of shots so nothing in the photo seems strained or forced. Your forehead, neck, and jaw line are all places where this concentration is most obvious, but when you have your photographs taken in a relaxed environment, you let go of that stress and let the real you shine through.


A frequent problem that people have when they try to take their own headshots is when it comes to understanding that a static picture can still have flow. You may notice that do-it-yourself photographs can sometimes look like a moment frozen in time, rather than an instant that has simply been candidly captured on film. A photo that “flows” will give you the impression that there is activity happening both before and after that picture. Your clients will interpret that impression as a result of your personality showing through the picture. From there, trust is built.

If you’d like your customers to get a real sense of the relaxed and vivacious you, then a call to Gretchen Adams Photography can do the trick. We can take your headshots at our studio, in your office, or even outdoors. This way, your professional image is also your true image.

picture personality

As a representative of your business, you want to convey your personality and the purpose of your work. A headshot can effectively show this to your customers. You’re basically giving people a brief, but vibrant, insight into who you are and how you can help them. When that first impression is made in as short as 100 milliseconds, you want to make sure your customers get the right message.

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Authentic family portraits at your own home

outdoor portraits of kids by old vintage truck walnut creek ca gretchen adams photographyYou’re probably pretty familiar with the traditionally posed family portrait. You may have even tried variations on poses to make the picture appear more fun, and to convey the personality of you and your family. After all, you want this to be something you can share with other. You want them to get a sense of how vibrant your family is from those images. But when you attempt to take these portraits yourself, do you ever feel rigid while posing? Are you the one responsible for the auto-timer, which leaves you having to rush back into position before the timer runs down? You have to admit that these shots are probably not the best representation of you and your family.

Even studio portraits can be less than ideal, since this involves packing your family up and bringing them to an unfamiliar environment. Whether you’re keeping these images to chronicle the growth of your children over the years, or sending pictures as gifts to your loved ones who aren’t nearby, you really want to be able to capture the essence of your family life. The ideal family portrait, then, should project a natural comfort that truly shows the joy and bonds of all the members in your household.

You know how lively, comedic and loving your family is. You want others to know that too.

a place of inspiration

At Gretchen Adams Photography, we like to step away from the classic studio image for family portraits. We realize that they don’t always capture the real interaction between family members, and even in a still shot, the dynamic that you all share is what really makes the portrait shine. You’ll find that you can get a more satisfying result when we’re able to come to your home for a series of shots in a space that’s natural for your family. We can take pictures indoors, in your backyard, or even at an outdoor location that your whole family loves and adores. Taking pictures in a space where you feel comfortable will let everyone’s personality and exuberance show.

We also understand that a studio can be difficult if you have younger children. When we bring all the equipment to you, it lets you be at ease. This makes the whole photography session a good experience for everyone in the family.

the art of not putting on airs

Stress is an emotion that isn’t easily hidden in pictures. Your self-portraits of the family and studio outings can generate a lot of what we like to call “performance tension.” While we at Gretchen Adams photography pride ourselves for having an eye for balance within the image, we also do our best to coach you and put you at ease. Our ability to guide and comfort you and your family is part of what allows us to capture a memorable and honest shot. Basically, we’re not only balancing the physical composition of your family portrait, but also balancing your personalities within the portrait.

four-legged family members

You may also have loved pets who are seen as members of your family. Studio portraits totally exclude your pups and kitty friends from the picture. When you contact Gretchen Adams Photography, you’ll find that we have extensive experience in making sure that everyone in the household, four-legged or otherwise, gets their time in the spotlight.

If you want your next family portrait to be a fun experience with stunning results, contact us today for an in-home photography session. We can help you not only capture the essence of your family, but also the fullness of the love that you share.

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Thanks for the memories

outdoor high school senior portraits for guys san ramon ca gretchen adams photographyWhether you’re looking forward or looking back—high school senior portraits are the pretty much the definition of tangible memories. They’re an awesome way to remember what sort of things you spent your high school career doing as well as, perhaps, what you’ll be doing as you move forward.

changing it up

You want your high school portraits to stand out, seniors. Here’s why. First and foremost, your parents will likely send these portraits out to friends and family. And those friends and family are going to want to hang those photographs around their homes and offices. You know what that means—lots of eyes getting a glimpse of your photos. Having your portraits taken with us here at Gretchen Adams Photography means you’re signing up for quality portraits taken with your wants in mind.

Another reason? These images also get sent out with your graduation announcements. Grandparents across the country, aunts and uncles, distant cousins—they’re all likely to receive these photos with the announcement of your commencement. So, let’s do this right. Let’s do something a little different this year. Let’s shake things up. We’ll work together to figure out what looks, locations, and poses work for you.

lasting spirit

Parents. We’ve got some news for you too. Your graduating senior has got a style all their own and it’s likely they’ve got a few ideas in mind for their senior portraits as well. With us here at Gretchen Adams Photography, we can capture a few stunning shots on location or in a studio. Either way, the portraits will be something both you and your teen can love. Our goal is to make these portraits into lasting memories. They’ve got the potential to capture the essence of the things your teen loves most—sports, nature or even just a few great pieces of clothing—and showcase their hopes for the future. After all, for some of us, those things do include the things we were doing in high school.

Senior portraits done with us have just what’s needed to make those images standout from all the rest. Unique is just what we do. We also make sure that the individual portraits stand apart from each other. You might be wondering, “Well, how’s that?” We do this by getting your senior to relax and show of their unique personalities. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of conversation and a smile to bring out that spark.

personality, quirk & interests

The personality that your seniors are growing into is an important thing to encourage. Naturally, you want them to achieve future success and further development, so why not support those goals with fabulous portraits? Half the fun is planning the portrait session. Parents, think back to your high school careers. What were your interests? Some of us were sports lovers, some of us were math lovers, others were band and cheer enthusiasts. Some of us might have even been a complex combination of all those things. If that’s your senior, then half out battle’s already taken care of.

Gretchen Adams Photography specializes in not only capturing the perfect shot, but also keying the photographs to the person in front of the camera too. We’ll do everything we can to make sure the session is 3 things: stress-free, fun, and a perfect depiction of the graduating senior to-be.

Contacting us at Gretchen Adams Photography can get you started with planning an exciting senior portrait day.

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