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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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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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Valentine’s Day Crafts

For weeks my kids had been so excited for this event hosted by our local library. Since we found out about the Valentine’s Day Crafts for kids my younger daughter kept asking, “is it February 7th yet?”, almost every day. My older daughter can read the calendar now, so she was counting down the days, which was pretty funny.

Valentine's Day Crafts

Our library in Morgan Hill did an awesome job in preparing everything for the kids.

When my kids entered the room, they were invited to get whatever they wanted from a long table filled with cut shapes, stickers, scrapbook paper and stamps. The girls took only one or two things, thinking they have to pick ONE THING from the abundance of fun stuff laying on the table. Until I appoach them and told them they can take whatever they want (of course with some limits, right?). You should see how their faces lit up.

On the small tables all the kids were sitting and finishing their Valentine’s Day Crafts there were additional fun things available for the to use. One of the moms said, “gosh, this is great! and I don’t have to clean up after all“. I thought the same thing. And having all the stuff accesible to the kids was also great.

I loved it and the kids loved it even more. We have already put on my calendar another event: ROCK PAINTING.

My kids are total freaks when it comes to collecting rocks, so this is going to be an awesome event, I can feel it already 🙂 Not thrilled about new rocks coming home with us, but oh well…

I highly recommend checking out your local library for their free events for kids. I always get a brochure from them with the whole month’s events listed on them. You can probably check their website as well, or call them. 🙂

And if you’re free this weekend I have a great event for you. Valentine’s Day Mini-Sessions slash Portrait Playdate (which is more accurate way to describe it). Hit the link to see what’s it all about.

Also hit my Facebook page to see how you can win a photo session with me just by participating in the upcoming playdate!

Hope to see you there!

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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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Exploring Morgan Hill

Exploring Morgan Hill with Ewa Samples Photography.

Since we moved out from San Jose I have not had the chance, or actually put any serious effort into exploring Morgan Hill, our new home. I’ve meant to go here and there. I made several mental notes to visit particular places which I’ve noticed because I’ve driven by them many times. However there are always new books to be read, and thousand of photos to be looked through and edit for my clients. (Remember it’s Christmas Cards Season… 😉 ) – and life gets crazy for photographers. There are new projects to be planned, and there are days to just feel like you don’t want to do anything else but stuff your face with ice cream. You know how that goes. And there are days when you go out to location scout and you don’t take your camera with you. For unknown to yourself reasons.

exploring morgan hill with ewa samples

Let me tell you, Morgan Hill is totally different from San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto, or any other city located in Silicon Valley. There is so many gorgeous places to shoot at just minutes from me. And I’m not talking about kids park with nice green grass, and some trees in the background. I’m talking about lush green fields, Natural Preserves, and creeks. It’s hard to believe I haven’t done anything about it. One place is like… well, outside the window. The other (which I haven’t visited yet), is 5 minuets of WALKING from where we live.

Morgan Hill is simply beautiful. It is my kind of place, being honest with you. With so many fields, farms, vineyards, orchards, and gorgeous natural preserves, it’s my heaven. Especially the part when it says “farms”. I dream about having one, someday. With horses, and chickens, and dozens of dogs, or/and pigs. Oh yeah!

Now I just feel like I’m on the mission to convince all my old and new clients who in most part come from San Jose, Palo Alto and Redwood City area, to start coming to Morgan Hill for their sessions with me.

This series, “Exploring Morgan Hill” is a part of this mission 🙂 Maybe if I show you all how gorgeous this place is, you’ll not hesitate a minute to drive the extra 20 minutes for your session with me.

And who knows, you might fall in love with it just like I did.

This album below contains two days and two locations. One is the one in front of our window, and the other is Coyote Creek Lake. Enjoy. And let me know if you have any favorite locations around Morgan Hill and Gilroy.

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What is “location scouting” | Gilroy Family Portrait Photographer

Location scouting in Gilroy.

Today, I’d like to chat a little about one very important part of photographer’s life. And that’s locations scouting. I think most people know what that is, but not many people, especially those not related to the photography business don’t realize how important this one part of photographer’s work is. For both,  client and photographer.

location scouting gilroy

You might think, the photographer is that person who comes to your session, clicks the shutter nine hundred times, go home and give you the pictures he/she has taken. And yes, that’s one part of the entire process. However there is a lot of “behind the scene” happening that you might not be aware of.

At the very beginning of my career I’ve driven hundred of miles around San Jose and the surrounding cities in search of interesting places. I didn’t want the regular play grounds, busy with people and unwanted distracting structures in the background. Instead of going to playdates with other moms and kids, I would take my kids for an “adventurous” hikes, and long drives in between, with a camera hung over one  my shoulder and a diaper bag over another.

Week by week, month by month, I’ve built quite the list. Hills, hiking trails, creeks, gardens, fields of flowers, beaches. Sometimes I get an email or Facebook message from friends or my clients with addresses and places “to check out”. I love when that happens.

Whenever a client mentions a place I’ve never been before, for their session, I don’t say YES or NO until I go there and see it myself. I personally don’t like shooting in places I don’t know anything about. Getting to know a location, by visiting it at least once before the session is a tremendous help. It allows me to think ahead about the session, and about how to use the location for interesting poses and angles.

I love taking my kids to new places. They are always my first models. They’ve grown so accustomed to going with me for “location scouting” and for their new adventurous trips. I often scroll through google maps looking for something interesting. Even more often I make notes of intersections next to something that caught my eye. My notes on my phone are full of those addresses. 🙂

These days, I’m scouting for new locations around Morgan Hill and Gilroy. We recently found a beautiful garden close to us.

I invite you to look through the gallery.

Maybe you’ll choose this place for your next session with me. Who knows… Or maybe, you’ll let me know about an interesting place you visited that would be great for a session. If you’d like, we can get together for my next locations scouting and make it a playdate.

Speaking of playdates. Feel free to stop by at our Portrait Playdate.

Portrait Playdate

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Family Portrait Photographer | The importance to be authentic during a photo session

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Family Portrait Photographer

FAMILY PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER SAN JOSE

As a family portrait photographer, maybe not a strictly documentary one, but someone who wants to “catch” the real personality of the person in front of the camera, to those who ask: “what should we do during the session”, I always say: “be yourself”. But to be just that it’s good to engage in something that you or your family enjoy doing. The fake smiles are not what I aim for. I want to see your and your kids’ “authentic self”. However, I know how hard that is. And as Amy Cuddy says: “The wish to feel and be seen as “authentic” seems like a basic human need, and maybe that’s why the term “authentic self” is so popular these days. Actually, sometimes I feel it gets thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve.” What is your authentic self is probably something you have to answer to yourself. What is it that you need the photographer that you want hire for? I think the answer is more personal, but it’s important to know it before you start looking for a photographer for you and your family.

PORTRAITS AS INDIVIDUAL  AS YOU

One of the books I’m in the mid of reading is, by mentioned before, Amy Cuddy. She talks about what being present means, and how that can help us to overcome the biggest challenges while being our boldest selves, and while staying true to our authentic selves. I know, so many of my clients can totally relate to what she says about being so stressed in certain situation that we loose ourselves completely; we don’t know what to say, and how to act – we “simultaneously analyzing what we think others think of us, what we said a minute earlier, and what we think they will think of us after we leave, all while frantically trying to adjust what we’re saying and doing to create the impression we think they want to see.” After that we spent days and days rewinding that situation and beating ourselves for not doing this or not saying that, because we were paralyzed with fear, stress, judgmental thoughts.

Where do I go with this, you might ask. Well, I know how it feels to have a camera pointed at you, when you don’t have much of the experience with that. Not only you put yourself under the pressure to look your best, but also, for you think your whole family have to behave “properly”. You think, everybody needs to be happy, and smiling, and it a good mood, and ready to enjoy this time in front of the camera. Which in my opinion is not the point. Really. If you’re working with a photographer you’ve never met before, it adds another level of stress. She/he is a stranger to you and your family, and you want to make the best impression, while not really knowing what she or he might think about your ideas, or the way you or your kids (which is often the case!), act.

I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT! Really. I have two kids, two dogs, and husband who does whatever he wants (well, he gets his share of my thoughts about that later, but he doesn’t even care about that). Well, behaving is last thing I expect to see during my sessions. I see my clients as individuals who are all different, and who have their own personalities and style and ideas, and thoughts, and who not necessarily enjoy having to put the fake smiles on. In my opinion when I (and the parents) stop preaching, conducting, interrupting and start observing and being present in what’s happening during the session, the MAGIC HAPPENS.

I think, the best example of it all are children. They are present in any given moment to the fullest. They don’t care about judgment, and they don’t fear it.

All of that came to me while watching the sun setting. I asked my daughter to dance for me. And she did, here is her sunset dance.

For those 5 minutes she was totally present in her task. She heard her own music, and you could see how much she enjoyed the wind in her hair and on her face.

And while sometimes I don’t have the words to describe what I feel, the one thing is certain: when I hold a camera there is nothing else in the world – just me and my subject. There is no judgment, nothing else matters but the person (or the family) in front of the camera, and their story.

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Earth Day on the Bay at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City

Today, we went to “Earth Day on the Bay” at the Marine Science Institute. There were many activities and things to see, but we anchored our butts at a lovely small beach next to the Institute. The beach is full of broken shells, and it hurts to walk on it bearfoot. However that didn’t stop the kids. They got wet and muddy, and all what they were talking about it how they wished they knew where we’re going, because they would had taken their swimming suits with them. Well, it looks like I know where to take them tomorrow. Beach it is 😉

It started from dipping they feet. Just a little bit. Then it went to going down to about their knees. The kids on the beach had a really great time. We should have visit more what was available inside the Marine Science Institute, but at the end the kids we just happy with where they were, and with finding clam shells (the beach was full of them).

At the end they were all dripping wet from toes to top of their heads. Still, we had to finish the day with a huge scoop of ice cream for everybody.

How was your day?

Earth Day Marine Science Institute-1

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