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Celebrate Yourself with Bay Area Portrait Photographer (or by yourself) ;)

I call this project “Celebrate Yourself”, and it’s a part of my creative portrait photography journey, which I plan to evolve into something fun, and a little different then ordinary portrait photography.

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In this case, I think, it was more about celebrating myself and getting my idea out of my head, more then the subject celebrating herself. You can’t tell but she was freezing in there and all she wanted was a hot tea and a warm sweater.

Deep inside, my dear friend Iryna thinks, what I did to her on that day was a revenge for all the times I had to pose for her. Well, I didn’t have to but this is what friends are for, right?

For me, this project turned out to be a fun experiment. Not only artistically, but personally.

For me, this project was never meant to be in black and white, you know, like converting the whole picture into a black and white photograph.

I know that for most people it would make more sense. But it’s not about making sense, it’s about being true to oneself. Life doesn’t make sense most of the time. And things are never perfect, no matter how hard we try. And this was not about creating something perfect. It was about creating something that speaks me to myself (it that makes any sense).

Showcasing one of those pictures here and there I’ve already received some comments on how I could improve the image by converting it into black and white, or making the background less significant. Well, that’s not going to happen. Just saying.

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In today’s society, people are very easy on giving you advices on how to improve anything in your life, even if they were not asked to do so. And that’s ok. Take it with a smile and move on. Say, “thank you, but, no, thank you” and do things your way. I think, the “super talent” of ignoring others opinion about oneself comes with age, though.

Whenever we get stuff out to the public we are judged, and people are very eager to give us their opinion (doesn’t matter if we asked them for it or not). We have few choices:

  • we can do what we think people expect us to do, and not be criticized for doing something unexpected and different.
  • we can stop doing anything from the fear of being intimidated by people and their opinions about our work.
  • we can be ourselves and have this attitude: “world’s opinion of me is none of my business”

My own decision is to start carrying less about what people think of me, and more about what I think of myself and how I want to feel doing things I love.

It feels good, and I wish I had this ability earlier in my life.

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How about you?

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San Jose Family Photographer. Fine Art Children’s Photography.

This is definitely NOT about me complaining. Although, I have to admit, it feels really good to have delivered last photographs to clients. There are still some albums in progress, as well as wall arts, but most of it is behind me.

This is about me being happy to be able guiltlessly focus on some of the ideas I’ve had wandering in my head for quite some time. Something more personal and experimental. It’s more of a Fine Art Children Photography then my usual documentary and lifestyle.

Sometime ago, I came across a painting, and after seeing one I wanted to see more. And I have discovered A. Andrew Gonzalez:

And when I was going through his paintings I had an idea…

And I couldn’t wait any longer. And that’s good because I’m still waiting with blogging about my recent sessions for everybody to send and receive their Christmas cards. While waiting, I’ll fill the quietness in here with pictures of my daughters. Those two have surprisingly been very happy/willing to get in front of my camera. Probably, because we have been doing stuff that’s a little different from our usual.

Of course there’s a little bribing involved into the whole process. You see, to get this photograph:

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and this:

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I had to agree to take this picture first:

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Her cow is her life companion, and leaving her out of the frame is always a challenge. Not to mention additional 20 stuffed toys she owns, and sleeps with, but we settled for a portraits with only two of them this time.

 And while creating we also had fun doing some face relaxation exercises 😉

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before getting into the pose:

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And finally the piece I was hoping to get. And I got it.

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I have to admit if feels wonderful to get the ideas out, and work through them.

One down, three more to work on (as of right now).

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Stanford Lifestyle Family Photographer, California. Fall in its amazing beauty!

For Saturday’s family session my client requested FALL in the background, and when I heard it I knew exactly where to go to look for it. Stanford!!! No brainer. And I was not mistaken.

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This morning I sent one of my girls to school just to see her back after 1o minutes. Thanksgiving break. HA! That meant I had two of them to model for me during my location scouting.

This post is overblown with pictures. For the first time in my entire career I wasn’t able to pick just a few favorite shots. Normally I’m pretty good at that. I easily pick up to 15 best shots and go with them. Especially when it comes to photographing my kids, as they normally are not very fond of “posing” for me anymore. I wrote about it in one of my latest post. It’s a love-hate relationship we are dealing with. And today it was definitely on the LOVE side.

The umbrella was simply an accident, as at least one is always in our car. Kids couldn’t miss the opportunity to grab it. One umbrella also meant we are one short and a fight could emerge at any given time. Luckily the kids cared more about throwing the leaves at each other and at me then about fighting… AWESOME!

 

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Holiday Bazaar in Milpitas, California. Your opportunity to shop locally.

Great day today. I participated in Holiday Bazaar at John Sinnott Elementary in Milpitas, showcasing local vendors and artists.

Thank you for having me and looking forward to expand the new connections I made.


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How to survive Halloween? Simply enjoy it…

In my 10 years of living in America I carved pumpkin only once. Until today.

Each year, I had struggle to really enjoy this time of the year. As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I came to USA as a grown woman, fully formed and rooted in my culture and traditions. It was hard to simply switch from one to another, and “just have fun”.

Each year my husband dragged me to go trick-or-treating, and I did… in rain and cold, too.

The things we do for kids…, and husbands, right?

This year Halloween came from nowhere. I think being busy helped me not to stress about it. I haven’t have much time for that. Instead of stressing and complaining I have been enjoying my kids and their excitement. They’ve had the best time ever picking costumes, going to pumpkin patches, and bragging about carving the pumpkin. Not to lie to you, I think I was asked about the carving more then 30 times today…

So today I had some one on one time with that darn pumpkin, and here is a short documentation from it. Plus some extra photos of our Super Hero Girl.

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I don’t know how I’m going to feel about Halloween next year, but so far I’m having a good time…

What about you?

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Dear Dandelion: I wish to have all the things I want to have {Lifestyle Kids Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Last Saturday I took my girls to the park for lunch. I didn’t plan anything, just packed my book and some food. We were gone for 4 hours.

During that time I’ve learned that my kids know about the old “belief” that if you blew off the white fluffy part of a dandelion your wish will be granted. I think they picked almost all the dandelions on that field.

At some point my 5 year old gathered as many dandelions as she could hold and before she blew them off, she said,

I wish to have all the things I want to have,

and after the blowing didn’t work, she simply crush the flowers. Whatever works, right?

They also wished for shooting stars, just so they can have more wishes…

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A dream is a wish your heart makes
When you’re fast asleep
In dreams you lose your heartaches
Whatever you wish for, you keep

Have faith in your dreams and someday
Your rainbow will come smiling thru
No matter how your heart is grieving
If you keep on believing
The dream that you wish will come true

~ Ewa

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Why and how I decluttered my photography style

In today’s post for 15 Day Blog Challenge I’m connecting two days into one: Day 12 and day 13. After I listened to both videos from Natalie Sisson (the creator of this challenge) for day 12 and 13 topics I immediately knew how I want to write it and that I want to connect those two days into one post. I knew I want to write about decluttering my photography style, because it’s been a journey for me, a very important one. I can’t say the journey is finished because it feels like I have just begun….

Here are the topics:

Day 12 – “What work and life clutter are you going to remove to be more of a minimalist and free up space for you?”

Day 13 – “Which ONE thing are you going to introduce into your life that is going to help your mind, body or soul?” 

When I started my business I knew I want it to be real. I wanted to be more about how people ARE instead of about how we can IMPROVE them with our photoshop tricks and the perfect lightening. I was sick and tired of looking at photographs of photoshopped faces and liquified figures. It wasn’t me. I didn’t feel connected to that kind of photography.

With my photography I wanted to celebrate the parenthood the way it is. I wanted to encourage parents to look at the final photos from each session and feel joy, love and happiness. After trying “this and that” I have realized the only things I want to be happening during my sessions are the real emotions. I decided to go prop less if I only can. I want my clients to be themselves. I don’t want them to play a role, fake something for the purpose of the session. I want them to bring their RAW selves. I’ll make it work for them. No matter what.

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I decluttered my Pinterest boards from portraits including “fake” props. These days I almost never use Pinterest for session ideas. I think every family is unique and while it is good to have a back up plan for poses I think it is more important to let the family be REAL.

This approach has given me a limitless possibilities. With each family we can do something else. Something especial. Getting rid of all the other distractions and worries about props and what not I felt like I have finally got where I wanted to be in a first place with my business.

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While many people think their photographs will get better if they get better (and more) equipment, I think my photography gets better if I take the time to look deeper with whatever I have, or just simply BE in the moment. Real life is not always crystal clear and tack sharp, and I like to emphasize that.

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The ONE THING I decided to introduce into my life that has been helping me to do just that is my old friend. This tiny fellow is as made of gold for me (it actually a sturdy piece of metal, anyway). It has been laying in my drawer for the last 10 years until I figured out how to attach it to my DSRL. Why I hadn’t think of it earlier, don’t ask me. I’m pretty embarrassed about it myself.

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I rarely use this little guy during my sessions with clients but when I decide to do it, I think magic happens. I know how important “crispy sharpness” is to people these days and how stress about it they can get. That’s why I  use this lens only for a short periods during some of my sessions. It’s more for my own pleasure then for anything else, although I have heard many wonderful words about photographs taken with this lens from my clients. And that makes my little heart sing!

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This lens is permanently attached to my camera when I go out with my kids these days. If I was a poet I would definitely write a poem about this lens.

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But instead I’ll use someone else’s words describing my thoughts:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

Yes, this little fellow is worth gold to me. It helps me to feel good about photography when I feel like I’m burning out. This ONE small thing has helped me to shape my passion way better then any $1500 lens would had done it.

How about you? What does make your heart sing and keeps it inspired? 

Ewa

 

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The importance of ME TIME {Day 11 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Today’s topic in my 15 Day Blog Challenge in What ONE thing will you do each day to get more you time this year?”

I have already started working on that thing about a month ago. I re-designed my calendar to schedule “me time” in there and simply stick to it no matter what. At first it felt kind of weird to have to do that. After one week of sticking up to it I saw the importance of having it. Seriously.

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If you’re a stay-at-home or working mom, it doesn’t matter, if you don’t have “you time” in your day, please sit down right now, and schedule it. 30 minutes of yoga, writing, drinking tea in peace, or simply meditating. Schedule the time to do something you enjoy tremendously but haven’t had the chance to do it because of, well, busy life. Even scheduling a short “mommy and me” session would be a great gift to yourself.

Put this sign on your office or bedroom door and thank me later 😉

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It felt pretty weird to having to schedule time for things I like to do for myself in the calendar. But I see the point of doing it now, and I see the great results of sticking to the plan. 

In my calendar “me time” includes reading to kids and getting them ready to bed, which takes about an hour all together. The rest of the time is away from the computer or phone. The part with no phone is harder but I’ve been working on it. Sometimes it does include computer or phone for listening to my favorite podcasts while I write my diary. So it’s a mix of things but what this time is not for is WORK. When the husband is gone this time simple means bingeing on “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Salem” or “Orange is the New Black”.

I have scheduled time to read books and to go to the gym during the day which I also consider “me time”. There is time to do blogging, editing, as well as 30 minutes for my green smoothie. Yes, I had to put the smoothie there as well, otherwise I would end up eating pretzels washed down with cold tea.

In the last 3 weeks I have already finished 3 books. I’ve gone to the gym at least 3 times a week as well as haven’t touched the pretzels once.

This “me time” has also brought me to an idea of doing something special for myself. Something I have been wishing to do for a long time. I actually have two things on my bucket list and one has been taken care of. The other needs to wait.

Jen Sincero says

“When you constantly deny yourself the people, food, things, and experiences that makes you feel the most alive, that sends a pretty lousy message home. Look at your life and see where you’re letting yourself down. If you hear yourself saying things like ” I love going out to see live music! I can’t remember the last time I did it,” make time

 I have already done it.

Have you? What’s “me time” for you? Mind to share?

~ Ewa

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Why I have such hard time outsourcing work

Ha! Its’s been almost 3 weeks since I wrote the Day 9 of 15 Day Blog Challenge, but life got quite busy as well as I had to think about Day 10 topic which is “Identify one task that you can outsource in the next 2 days“.

I know photographers (and other entrepreneurs), outsource all kinds of tasks within their business.  It’s very common for wedding photographers to outsource editing, for example. Bookkeeping is another thing to simply give to someone else to take care of. Taxes. Housekeeping. Even blog posts writing or social media updating in general. Well, I don’t do any of that. Maybe taxes. Although I have to do my part anyway  :/

What my biggest problem is, I have this issue with delegating things to people. That comes from how I was raised. It was one of the most common saying around the house:

If you ask someone to do something for you, you’ll end up having to do it yourself“.

My mom used to say that ALL. THE. TIME. She would say you can rarely relay on people to do your work for you. No matter what. No matter if you paid them or ask them to do you a favor. Friends. Strangers. Doesn’t matter.

DO IT YOURSELF in first place, and you save yourself the disappointment, time, the energy and what not

she would said!

Looking back I know that this is why I have such hard time to outsource tasks and also, ask for help if I need it. I rather do a poor job, in designing a business card or eBook for example, then simply outsource it to someone who can do way better job. Because of that most of the time I don’t enjoy going to restaurants, thinking I could cook the same thing, for cheaper and it would be healthier. Such a trivial thing as driving through a car wash is a big deal for me. Mostly because I don’t think those places clean good enough, secondly I’m simply convinced I can do a better job, no matter what. Therefore I often drive a dirty car because I won’t take it to the car wash but I also don’t have the time to wash it myself. Ridiculous right?

It took me a while to ask a friend to come along to a session with me to help me with “behind the scenes” part during this session. Silly enough I initially believed I could do it myself.

It always takes a great amount of convincing from my husband for me to agree to leave my own kids with their grandparents, not to mention a real babysitter (which I can’t recall they ever stayed with). Friend here or there, yes. But that was a struggle too.

Outsourcing is a word I fear, that’s why I had such a hard time to (even) write this post. Although with each year of running this business I realize more, and more of the necessity of asking for help and simply having some things within the business done by other people. I can’t be ONE-MAN band and don’t burn out.

So, yes… This is why I normally don’t outsource, but I’m working on it.

Ewa

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I consider the Fall season open !

This past weekend I had a family session in a gorgeous location in Redwood City and we all agreed, THE FALL IS HERE.

With this beautiful throw I consider the Fall season open, and I don’t care what you say 😉

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Then this week, I had the duty to walk our daughter to school and those few trips only reassured me about it. I know, I know, you might say that those few leaves on the ground doesn’t make it Fall,

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but if you stop for a minute or two you’ll notice that there is more then a few of them laying around. You can actually make a pretty big pile, just like we did today on our way back from walking her big sister to school.

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and like yesterday or today we did not have any problems with finding enough leaves to throw them in the air or at me (which was the most fun part of all).

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I can smell it, I can feel it, and I can finally wear my poncho without getting all sweaty in it… That’s the sign the Fall is here. Seriously 😉

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The only thing I’m missing is the rain.

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These are just sprinklers. One can dream, right.

Sprinklers again...

Sprinklers again…

So my advice to you is to whenever you’re out today, stop looking at your phone for few minutes and instead look around you. Let me know if you were able to spot the Fall, like I did (with a big help of my Little One).
Ewa,

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Keeping organized as a professional photographer {Family Portrait Photographer, San Jose, CA}

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Since I started my business I have used different mix of softwares and systems for scheduling, invoicing, keeping track of “to-dos”, etc. About a year ago I came across 17hats and the idea behind it hit me as nothing but awesome! Since then I found other similar systems for small businesses, some less expensive then others. Some looked way too complicated for me.

So far I really like what I’ve seen while setting the account with 17 hats. It is a one person system, so if you have more people to communicate with within your business then this is not for you. Having accounts almost everywhere to keep up with everything that’s going on within my business makes the whole process of running it not a pleasant experience. This tool seems to be really awesome and I am very excited I finally decided to go with it.

It’s going to take some time to move all my contacts, projects and events and what not but after I’m done with it I feel like I’m going to be way more productive and the whole system of will be way more pleasant. Within the last two days of trying it I feel like I have done more organizing then I have done through the entire year 😉

For example with a few clicks I have synchronized my google calendar with the software.

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I was able to do the same with several other accounts. I love how user friendly and intuitive this software is.

I’m still during the 15 day free trial and I think this software should have this trying period a little longer.

Also 17 Hats did not pay me for this blog post, I just had to write about one SYSTEM or one TOOL I’m going to introduce into my life for  15 Day Blog Challenge (and this is Day 9). But if you sign up with this link, I’ll get a referral bonus, so definitely do that if you found this post useful 🙂

Ewa

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I’m packing to Vegas but meantime {Day 8 of 15 Day Blog Challenge}

Yesterday I wrote about the ONE thing I want to focus on in the nearest future. And the one thing is to run my business while not allowing the business to run me. What that also means I want to make more time for personal life, projects, maybe trips.

Today is Day 8 of 15 Day Blog Challenge, and today’s topic is to list 3 major goals that will help me to achieve that ONE thing. It will be short, as tomorrow we are leaving for mommy and daddy weekend away in Vegas and I have packing to do. For that time I will take time off from this project.

So here we go:

Goal no. 1

I will get back to my regular yoga schedule as well as “me time”, like reading for example. 

It used to be 5 day a week. These days if I do something in the morning for 3o minutes twice a week I call it a success (but it’s not). I also miss a good book. Good science fiction one. Know any?

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Perfecting bridge pose from my vision board

Goal no. 2

I will do at least one PERSONAL photography related project every 3 months. 

Once in a while I will plan photography projects completely for my own pleasure.

Goal no. 3

I will get organized.

Organized my daily and weekly schedule for everything starting from “me time”, yoga, work, personal projects, networking. No more feeling like this:

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Don’t we all feel like that sometimes? Well, I am determined to feel less and less like it and more and more in peace.

Wish me luck!

Ewa,

 

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