52 Project

Santa Clara County Park Ranger. Stranger Challenger week 11

It couldn’t be any cooler than to be able to photograph a Santa Clara County Park Ranger as my stranger.

Santa Clara County Park Ranger - Doug - Ewa Samples Photography

Last weekend I’d been location scouting like crazy. Posts from those beautiful places are coming. So, after going to one place I wanted to scout for a long time, and realizing it’s not that interesting or “photo shoot friendly”, we headed to our usual location. Uvas Reservoir.

My kids love this place, and it’s becoming one of my favorite spots in Morgan Hill. This time my husband was with us, and every chance he got he reminded me about my Stranger Challenge, as this place was pretty busy with people.

Do you want to want to hear a funny story? Well, I’ll tell you about it anyway.

So, at one time, I have decided to get back to our car and get my camera out to take some pictures of the kids. Walking back to the spot where my family was I spotted this couple on motorcycles. They were trying to take a selfie with the lake on the background. I approached them as offered them help. I said, “hey I can help you with that”. They handed me their phone, and I snapped several photos for them. As I was walking away from them I heard my husband’s yelling from the other side of the lake: “Stranger!!! That’s your stranger!!!”

So theoretically, I could had turned back and ask them to text me those photos… LOL

But I didn’t. It’s like I  need a special mental preparation before I ask people to be part of my 52 project. And I just didn’t have it with that couple. I don’t know. It’s weird how it works.

While taking pictures of my kiddos (I’m attaching one to show you how pretty it is there)…

uvas reservoir-ewa-samples-photography

… I heard my husband again…

“Hey, you should take a picture of him”. Who? I asked. He said: Him! and pointed to the parking lot.

And there, I saw the Santa Clara County Park Ranger, Doug. 

I started to walk towards the parking as slow as I could, so maybe, just maybe, I didn’t get there on time (before he left). LOL

I’m telling you, it’s not as easy as it sounds to approach someone and ask them if you can take their picture and then blog about it.

However, I got there before he left, and I popped the question. And of course he said yes. And posed for me like a pro!!!

santa clara county park ranger, Doug_Ewa Samples Photography

Thank you so much for helping me to get closer to my goal, Mr. Doug! And thank you so much for your work!

Ewa

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Female Buddhist Nun, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi. Stranger Challenger week 10

I was the first person to enter the library room filled with chairs. I was excited for this speech of a

Female Buddhist Nun, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi.

While waiting, I was able to finish and to send out my newsletter. And then I had the time to wait even more. The room was filling out. Mostly older people, women in general. I’ve noticed only a few older gentleman among the room filled with women.
I was getting more and more curious. Who is she? How does she look? How does she speak? I’ve never met a Buddhist monk, not to mention a female Buddhist nun.

When she entered the room, I couldn’t stop looking at her. Over 6 foot tall, shaved bold, in robes. A little hunched, like she wanted to make herself a little smaller, less standing out of the crowd.

Female Buddhist Nun, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi-1

She had a very gentle voice, but with this permanent smile, it seemed like. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She made the whole room laugh quite a lot while talking about her journey to become a buddhist nun.

And I’ll tell you that, she has a quite the story.

A daughter of scientists who were as far from religion as you can think. Hard core hippy teenager who started her journey with meditation at age 15 (after having to go through 2 weeks of abstinence from smoking pot).  LOL

After getting a master degree in biochemistry and working in the field for quite sometime, she bought one way ticked to India. On her way to the mountains, to see Dalai Lama, he passed her in his car, leaving for 4 month tour of Europe.

Female Buddhist Nun, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi-2

She also spoke about Simple Life. How not having to care of the “looks” and “stuff” made her become free. Feel free. And it just reminded me about something Elizabeth Gilbert once said: “Enlightenment almost always tastes like freedom”, which I think it’s a paraphrase of what once Buddha said.

She also spoke about this one mistake most people do. They often think about the meaning of life, and they want to seek the answer to this question. When the real question is:

How can people make their own lives meaningful“.

Female Buddhist Nun, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi. Ewa Samples Photography

 

How can you make your life meaningful. How can I?

And I’ll leave you with that!

Ewa

Best coffee place Morgan Hill. Stranger Challenge week 9

Yesterday I googled “best coffee place Morgan Hill”. A friend’s visit forced me to think of more fun places to hang out than the good old Starbuck. So, in my google search, I found a place I walked by so many times planning to check it out someday.

When a desire for a fancier tea or quick coffee comes upon me, I almost always rely on the good old Starbucks or Peet’s. Despite being aware of the existence of different places where I could get a delicious drink from, like the one I visited today, I often pick Starbucks anyway. Because it’s safe. Because it’s reliable.

But today was different.

Best coffee place Morgan Hill tealite drink ewa samples photography

Today I visited TeaLite Drink. Place mostly serving boba tea.

I’ve walked by this place on many occasions since we moved to Moran Hill and always thought about stopping by there. So, yesterday after the google search and after some reading yelp reviews for this place, I’ve decided it’s time. Plus, a place that has “cards against humanity” on its shelves is a place worth visiting for sure!
While sitting inside and enjoying the Giant Peach tea, I told my friend I want the lady behind the counter to be my Stranger number 9. She started to laugh and said: “Mustering the courage to ask her. huh?” Well, yes. It’s something that it’s not really getting any easier to do, so far.

As we were getting ready to leave, I finally mustered the courage. And as usual, the experience was great. The welcoming smile, and super happy to help me with this project person on the other side of the camera. It always makes me wonder: what am I so scared of…

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Couple in love. Stranger Challenge week 8

While walking from my kid’s school today, I spotted a couple in love sitting on the grass. They looked so fresh in love, and that made me curious about their relationship. They also looked like they were way pass the period, I’ll be forever calling, “we’re working on it”. The name comes from my “Sweetest love story. Stranger challenge week 6.”

Today’s couple already had it worked out, it looked like. Don’t you think?

couple in love

 

 

 

I approached them, and asked them in they would be ok with being part of my project. As you can see, they said yes. To my big surprise I was told they’ve been together about 18 months now. My guess was, well, close to one or two months into the relationship.

Thank you so much for helping me to catch-up with this project, and helping me to overcome my fear of approaching stranger by being so nice!

Following this patter, soon I’ll be approaching a couple in love during their wedding day for my Stranger Challenge. 😂😂😂

Today I realized how awesome this project is. Well, I have this feeling every single time I take a photo of a stranger, but every time for a different reason. Today, I realized, this project allows me to watch people, try to guess who they are, what they do, etc, and then just approach them and ask them about it.

I wouldn’t have the guts to do it without this project. I do go through motions of fear before asking people for allowing me to take their picture. However, Brandon Stanton described it perfectly in “Magic Lessons”, podcast hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert. He said:

“You can learn to be brave. You can learn to be courageous. You can learn to be social. And the way you can do these things is to do something when you scared of doing it. The way to learn courage is to be afraid of something and then do it anyway.”

If you interested the interview with Brandon is in the episode called “Make the Brutal into the Beautiful”.

 

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Photographing Stranger Challenge part 7 – Valentine’s Day Stranger

This past week my “Photographing Stranger 52 week Challenge” got very sweet. Literally. It’s week 7th of the challenge. I seriously didn’t think I’ll come that far.

As you might know, we are big fans of libraries. Two weeks ago we went to our local library, for their free Valentine’s Day Crafts event. My kids enjoyed it a lot. On Valentine’s Day, we ended up in the library again. While on our way out, my older daughter spotted a sign pointing to the same room as the previous event. It said: Valentine’s Day Cookies Decorating. Oh man! How could we say no to that?

The fun part (or sometimes not really), of having kids who can read is, they no longer depend on the adults telling them what the world around them is all about.

This event was aimed for older kids but we were invited anyway, as most of the participants of this event were my kids’ age anyway.

While my kids were busy making their second set of cookies, I asked the librarian, if I can take a picture of her for my project. She didn’t want to just sit there while I was taking pictures of her, so she started decorating a cookie. She is a big fan of chocolate but not cookies. And because of that, we ended up with an extra cooking leaving the library. A reason for more happiness for my girls.

I love her smile she gave me at the end!

Photographing Stranger Challenge || San Jose Photographer

 

 

I’m happy that this time photographing stranger didn’t take me an entire week. It was a brief impulse and I went with it. In the past weeks, it took me several “misses”, as I call them. I see someone who I would want to ask but then I’m too scared and I miss the opportunity.

Now go and check out Hailey’s stranger!

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The sweetest love story! Stranger Challenger week 6

Yesterday I witnessed the sweetest love story in the making. When I spotted them, I had a feeling there is something going on but I was not expecting it to turn so sweet.

I have to admit, as the time progresses with this project, the project itself in not getting any easier. Approaching random people is still hard. This week I procrastinated until yesterday. And Sunday is the last day to do the weekly assignment for this project.

While waiting for my clients to show up for yesterday’s Valentine’s Day Playdate I was talking to Hailey, who is my partner in crime for this project, and who came to assist me during my sessions yesterday. We both hadn’t done our “stranger challenge” for the week. She spotted someone interesting and decided to go for it. I had not other option then do the same. It was then or never.

sweetest love story san jose family photographer

Paul and Grace

In the busy park, full of people playing ball, running, and chasing their kids this couple was standing with their backs to all of that. And that made me curious. I felt there is a story to it. The picture above shows how they looked when I approached them. And yes, I asked them to do it for me. It was not taken without their knowledge.

After a short introduction and explanation about this project our conversation went like this:

Me: “Are you, gusy friends?”

Paul: “Yees”

Me: “Are you, close friends?”

Paul and Grace: “Yeees”

Me: “Girlfriend and Boyfriend?”

Paul, after a short pause and with a huge smile: “We’re working on it”

sweetest love story saratoga photographer

If you don’t think that’s the sweetest love story ever then I don’t know what is. And I was lucky enough to witness it and document it for them (or for myself! 😉 )

Oh, the places this project is taking me… Inward and outward… It’s pain to do it, but when it’s done, it’s so rewarding… It’s kind of crazy.

Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH, PAUL AND GRACE, for the opportunity you gave me. I hope your relationship will thrive. And if someday you decide to look for a family photographer, well, I’ll be here! 😃✌🏻😄 👍🏻🙃👊🏻

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Jessie – traveling tattooer, artist, dog mom, van dweller

This weekend I got inked with two cool tattoos I’ve been planning to get for years! But this is not about the cool tattoos as it is about the cool story behind it as well as the cool tattoo artist who did it for me.

Meet Jessie. She is currently traveling the country with her sweet four-leg companion Chico, in her, mostly self-remodeled, van.

Jessie, my stranger no. 5 who doesn’t really feel like a stranger from the first moment you meet her.

cool tattoos - ewa samples photography

Australia-born, Jessie started her journey as a van dweller and traveling artist this past Thanksgiving. After 8 years of living in Minnesota. Her current travels brought her to Eileen from Flora and Fauna Jewelry. I met Eileen several months ago. She was staying in Morgan Hill in one of the cutest RV’s I’ve ever seen.

living in rv

Eileen and Jessie met through Reggie. I haven’t met him but after watching his youtube videos (one of them is about Jessie itself), and following his Instagram, I feel like I want to meet him. So maybe our paths will cross, because who knows. Anything might happen. 

living in rv

Just several days ago I saw on Eileen Instagram account her new addition to the tattoo family she has on her. She credited Jessie, and I immediately went to her account. To my surprise, I saw she’s in Los Gatos!!! How freaking crazy is that?

Just the night before, I was sitting on my computer photoshopping a picture of tattooed Tinkerbell so I could use it for my Facebook profile. Yes, it was just for a fun profile photo, not the real tattoo (which my husband was very worried about!).

I’d been longing for a new tattoo so bad, it’s crazy. If I was looking into a tattooed Tinkerbell pictures, you know it got really bad. In the past month, I’ve looked for local tattoo studios and artists and I inquired for some of the ideas I’ve had. But still, I wasn’t sure about any of the people I’ve found. 

And here she was, Jessie. I inquired to her as soon as I discovered her. And we were set for a tattoo session the next day. The best part of all, she helped me to create one awesome piece from two tattoo ideas I had planned to put in separate places. 

Here are some shots from the session we had.

Picture of Jessie and Eileen during their tattoo session here.

And here is the wonderful movie Reggie made about Jessie (and you can see Eileen in it as well):

Thank you so much, Jessie, for appearing in my life from nowhere. You’ve made a mark on my life, and not only! 🙂
See you next time!

 

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52 week challenge. Photographing strangers. Stranger no. 3

52-week challenge. Photographing strangers. Stranger no. 3

 

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”  

– Jordan Belfort

Sooooo, before I start describing my last week of hunting for a stranger willing to be a part of my 52-week challenge, let me ask you something:

Have you ever consciously suffocated your goals or ideas because they meant you had to get out of your comfort zone? Not once but many many times. It meant you had to try something totally new. Even in times when you felt like “new” is the last thing you want to do. You’d rather stay safe in your pj’s, eat cookie dough ice cream straight from the box. Binge watch your favorite show on Netflix. 

Because this is exactly what I was trying to do the whole week last week: I was looking for excuses.

Photographing strangers was the last thing I wanted to do. Period.

 

First of all, it was raining almost all week. The people out there looked like they don’t want to be bothered. Running from one destination to another, as fast as they could, like they were made out of sugar, and the rain could dissolve them.

I was also behind my schedule to finish a book I’d been reading. So, I wanted to stay home and just catch up with it. Next thing, probably more consciously then subconsciously, I would forget to take my DSLR with me, every single time I went out. Righ…

So fast forward to Saturday…

I was at a point where I admitted to myself, “I won’t do it this week”. I was ready to skip it, hoping the next week will be easier. But you know how it goes, right? If you skip something, then skipping it again, and again gets only easier. While sticking to your original plan gets only harder.

Late afternoon we went to grab something to eat. We stopped at “Pieology” in Morgan Hill. I was just watching the people working there while ordering our pizzas. And I thought how great of a picture it would be if I could make one of them stand next to the oven working with the pizza’s inside. All of the employees were so nice and they bravely suffered through my husband’s not funny jokes (sorry, hon!). And I felt nothing but encouraged to just give the project a try. One more time. I knew it’s then or never.

I waited until there were no people in line and went to ask. I had only my old phone with me. A phone that takes crappy pictures. A phone that has landed in a toilet twice, and in a creek once. A phone that had been declared dead more than 3 times. Its camera app doesn’t work, so I take pictures through a 3rd party app. I was not happy with the photo, but I was so proud of myself I did it anyway.

Stranger no.3 is a nameless employee of Pielogy in Morgan Hill. While I was preaching about getting to know your neighbors in my last post about this 52 week challenge of photographing strangers, this time around I was too preoccupied with my own fears and insecurities, and I simply forgot to ask.

Thank you so much, my nameless stranger for helping me to get the shot I envisioned, and to helping me getting one step closer to my goal of photographing 52 strangers in one year!!! 

Photographing strangers

 

My partners in crime in this 52-week challenge are:

Maryam Salassi from Hi and Hello Photography – Maryam is doing different 52, feel free to follow her journey.

Hailey Williams from Archer Inspired

 

Feel free to follow along!!!

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52 week challenge – photographing strangers

Portrait of a stranger 52 week challenge with Ewa Samples Photography

I went pretty easy on myself this past week. Well, it didn’t feel like it was any easier than the past week, anyway. My first stranger, Rockie, was literally a stranger. I’ve never met her before. I’ve never seen her face before anywhere.

This week’s stranger(s) are my neighbors, really. But we were never introduce. We passed by each other almost every day, waving our heads “hi”, or saying “good morning” on the way to take our kids to school.

This 52 week challenge makes me think about relationships we have with people. Or is it me? I’m shy and nervous when it comes to approaching people I don’t know, but WHAT AM I SO AFRAID OFF, really?

Thanks to this project I can finally put a name to those two faces I see almost every day. It’s not a lot but at the same time, it is. Right?

How many people in your life have nameless faces? Because, being honest with you, my life is filled with them. Mom’s from my daughter’s school. Neighbors. People in a library (where I spend about 10 hours a week). It’s crazy. I just smile to them, and get back to my phone or computer, instead of asking about how they are doing…

It’s only funny how I approach this project. While during my regular sessions I can’t stop taking pictures of people. With this project I shoot once and run. When I’m on my computer looking at the photo(!), I regret not taking more pictures. I just don’t have the guts to stay there for any longer that’s required to take one picture.

I hope, the further I go with this project the more pictures I’ll be able to take of people.

In this photo:

” Michael and Junior”

52 week challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My partners in crime in this 52 week challenge are:

Ania Gajda from Ania Gajda Photography

Maryam Salassi from Hi and Hello Photography – Maryam is doing different 52, feel free to follow her journey.

Hailey Williams from Archer Inspired

Feel free to follow along!!!

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Portrait of a stranger 52 Photography Project

Portrait of a stranger 52 Photography Project with Ewa Samples Photography – STRANGER no 1. 

Many, many years ago, I have done a 365 project (one photograph a day for a year), with self portraits. It was an awesome journey. Since that project, each year, I though about doing something similar, but couldn’t find an idea that interesting and challenging enough. The self portrait project was VERY challenging for my super self-conscious person. I wasn’t comfortable with it. Sometimes I had push myself very hard to finish it. And I did. And it was a life changing experience.

So, this year I asked around and found several friends interested in joining similar project. We agreed on a 52 Challenge that will require from us to take one picture a week of a stranger.

Each week we will be blogging about it, and sharing the photos we took.

A short story behind the photograph I took last week:

My Strange’s no.1 name is Rockie. I met her in Morgan Hill public library. She was putting make up in the ladies bathroom because she didn’t have the time to do it before she hurried out the house. Well, I know this pain way too good. After a small talk, we wished each other Happy New Year and I left. It was Friday. I felt, I’m running out of time with this project. However I felt scared and intimidated. Because how do you do it? How do you approach a stranger and ask if he/she is ok to be photographed. 

So I stormed back to the bathroom and explained her what I want to do and for what purposes. It felt so intimidating. But she said YES with a big smile on her face. And I was so relieved. 

So here she is, smiling kindly for me, sitting in Morgan Hill Public Library lobby. 

Thank you so much Rockie. YOU ROCK!!!

Portrait of a stranger 52 Photography Project

My partners in crime are:

Ania Gajda from Ania Gajda Photography

Maryam Salassi from Hi and Hello Photography – Maryam is doing different 52, feel free to follow her journey.

Hailey Williams from Archer Inspired

Feel free to follow along!!!

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