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SF Girl By Bay's New Book 'See San Francisco' Takes You on a Colorful Photo Tour of the City

Victoria Smith, design and lifestyle blogger at SF Girl By Bay, gives us a lively look at our city.

Photo: Chronicle Books
Photo: Chronicle Books

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Design Blogger Victoria Smith of SF Girl By Bay has been enchanting us for the last nine years with her bohemian modern interior style. While you can always count on Smith for decor and style tips, over the years she's become one of the best chroniclers of life in San Francisco, thanks to her knack for capturing colorful details of the city. (Just take peek at her Instagram feed and you'll see what we're talking about.)

Out now is Smith's first book, See San Francisco Through the Lens of SFGirlByBay, where hundreds of her vibrant photos are collected together for a photographic and design journey though SF. From the graphic murals in the Mission to the eclectic shops in Hayes Valley, the book is separated into sections by neighborhood where Smith reveals her hidden gems and favorites in each 'hood. Around 98% of the photos in the book were taken by Smith with an iPhone 6 using the VSCO editing app.

"The book features the quirky bits of San Francisco that I love: the colors, the vibrancy, and its uniqueness to any other city in the world."

After twenty years of living in San Francisco, Victoria Smith is saying goodbye to the city she's fallen in love with to move back to Los Angeles where she grew up. We had a chance to chat with the style and photography maven about her new book and what life will be like for her in the future without the city's morning fog.

Photo by <a href="">Sarah Deragon</a>

Photo by Sarah Deragon

What was the inspiration behind your new book, See San Francisco?

My editor at Chronicle Books, Laura Lee Mattingly, actually reached out to me with the idea, based on my photo series on the blog "Sunday in the City," and I loved it. I'm out shooting all the time anyway, so to be invited to create a book from that was most flattering. And, it was a book that was affordable for me to create, on my own. Sometimes when you do a decor book, for instance, there's a lot of styling, photography and travel involved. As much as I'd love to do that kind of book, I couldn't see managing that, and keeping up with the blog everyday. So this idea seemed like a good way to test the waters of authoring a book.

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

Every picture in your book captures just the right mood and color of the city. Can you share with us your editing process for choosing the images in each neighborhood for your book?

Thank you! The book features the quirky bits of San Francisco that I love: the colors, the vibrancy, and its uniqueness to any other city in the world. I think the places chose me. They just catch my eye and beckon to me to photograph them. When I was editing the images, color played an important part in my decision as to what went together on a page as a grouping of photos. I wanted the palette to reflect the neighborhood as much as possible, so there was a lot of trial and error as to what looked good together.

What are some photography tips you can share with us?

Well, since I shoot with the iPhone, I can't offer your typical tips. But lighting still plays an important factor. I like to shoot in the early mornings and late afternoons for the most interesting light. And with the iPhone, I use the VSCO Cam editing app. I pretty consistently use the C1 filter, and play a lot with the exposure. I tend to like things slightly over exposed for a light, bright look.

How do you like to spend a typical weekend day?

I love taking my dog Lucy to Fort Funston for a nice romp on the beach, followed by a stop at Outerlands cafe if she's tired enough to sit still for a bit. If the Alameda Flea Market is on, I usually hit that for sure. I work a lot on the weekends (tending to take Fridays pretty easy since I have no blog posts due on Saturday), so I generally work for a while and sneak in a nap or read. Then maybe meet up with friends for dinner—either at somebody's home, cook at my place, or dining out at one of my favorite spots, like Tataki South, Contigo or Firefly. Or we just go out for drinks at The Royal Cuckoo.

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

What are some of your favorite places to shop in SF?

I love Stuff on Valencia Street for great vintage finds. Aldea Home is nice, also on Valencia. Nest on Fillmore, Heath Ceramics, General Store. I like Summer House in Mill Valley a lot, too.

After 20 years in SF, you're moving back to your hometown of Los Angeles. How will that change the nature of your blog?

I don't expect it will change that much. I blog about San Francisco, but really only occasionally, and I'll still have contributors from the city sharing content from the Bay Area. The focus of my blog is still unique affordable design inspiration, and that won't change at all. I'll still have the same URL, but may change the banner to read SF Girl In LA. I bought that URL so I can do a redirect to the original web address.

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

From See San Francisco by Victoria Smith (Chronicle Books, 2015)

What will you miss the most about daily life in SF? (We will miss you!)

Thanks! I'll miss a lot. I'll miss my friends, like the morning crew at the dog park and good friends I've known for years. But I plan on making them visit! I'll miss all the charm and architecture of all little neighborhoods, and definitely the proximately to such beautiful parks and beaches. And I'll miss the weather. I love the cooler temperatures here and I'm going to have to adapt to the heat in LA all over again!