Ewa Samples

I’m Ewa (Eva), and I’m San Jose Cupertino Family, Maternity Portrait Photographer and Videographer. In the past I’ve photographed from Concord and San Francisco to Morgan Hill and many places in between. Majority of my sessions are done in San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Stanford, Sunnyvale, and Los Gatos. As much as I love working with natural light I also can create beautiful images in my portable studio. I love to create, and limiting myself to one source of light or one style of photographing families is not the way to express myself. I don't limit myself to sunset (so called golden hour) sessions. I shot at any given time. 4 years ago I pursued a project called 365 Self-Potrait Project in which I took one self-portrait a day for a year. From a project which was supposed to be about me it had turned into something that was about mothers and motherhood. I called it “Portrait of a Mother” which was featured on Bon Bon Break. Since that project I try to embrace every opportunity I get to be on the picture with my family. I know how hard it is for many mothers out there to do the same, and my mission is to change it…
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Start creating professional photos for your website and social media!

We live in a very visually oriented world, and to thrive in this world we need to adapt, especially when the success of our business or career depends on an online presence. Whether you run a business or are a stay-at-home mom/dad with a lifestyle blog, you need to create professional photos for your website and social media! That’s just how it goes. Today, I will try to give you my simple recipe for how to do it.

7 ingredients for professionally looking images

In 2014, according to Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report, people uploaded an average of 1.8 billion digital images every single day. Reading this article, which has more recent data, I was blown away by the number of videos and photos being uploaded to social media (like 100 million photos and videos being uploaded to Instagram, DAILY!).

This is insane! Don’t you think?

With that being said, I can assure you that more than half of that content being uploaded daily is garbage. Yes, we live in a very visual world, but also we live in a “snapping” culture. Most of the pictures shared by people are far from looking professional.

Everybody can snap a picture these days, but not everybody can create a visual poem.

If creating engaging visual content for your social media and website is very important to you, and it should be, it also should be very important to learn basic photography rules. It doesn’t matter what camera you use. The rules are always the same. Yes, rules are meant to be broken. But you can’t break them if you don’t know what they are.

In this article, I’m going to talk about all the things you should think about before you push the “snap” button. If you use the 7 ingredients for professionally looking images every single time you pull out your camera, you will see a tremendous improvement in your photographs. 

Photography is like cooking

When I make a new recipe I try to follow it closely, however when I get comfortable with it and I know it by heart I start experimenting. I add new things, substitute one ingredient for another, etc. 

The list below is pretty much in order of how you should approach the image creating process (in my opinion, of course). I’m comparing it to cooking because I do like to cook myself, and learning photography and its principles remind me of the process of learning how to navigate the culinary world. 

If you’re not into cooking that’s ok, you can probably find similarities of this process to something else you have struggled with at first but then you learned the basics, you became more comfortable with it, and all of the sudden an entirely new world opened up for you… whether it was woodworking, sewing, crocheting, or even training a dog.

Everybody can buy a cake mix, add some water to it, throw it in the oven and call it a b-day cake made from scratch. However, not everybody can create a cake the way Cake Boss does it.

To make a dish that’s high up in ranks everything must be in perfect harmony. The ingredients, the process, and the person who makes it should be like two dancers on a dance floor. There’s almost an intimate relationship between the chef who makes it, all the ingredients he uses to make it, and the process.

Try to be more like Cake Boss and less of a person who buys a cake mix.

Don’t get me wrong, going with the cake mix isn’t bad. I’m not saying people who do that suck at baking and “it’s just awful, and, oh gosh, don’t do it ever again!” Sometimes it’s ok to go with the cake mix. Sometimes it saves us time and energy and it’s all we have available. Or we use it because that suits us just right, and who the heck cares, anyway.

But isn’t it more fulfilling when you make something from scratch, and when you can say: “I made it!”? When in addition to that your creation tastes and looks awesome?

My recipe for creating professional photos for your website and social media:


  1. Start with a VISION for your photograph

    I know you probably think: “what?!? Vision for what? I just need to know how to take a nice-looking picture”. Well, yes and no. You do need to know how to navigate the environment as well as the equipment you work with to be able to take a nice-looking picture. However, that itself is not going to stop people from scrolling past your image. 

    Your picture should be your visual voice, and you will not find that voice in buying the newest cameras and camera gadgets

    When you get new shoes you have a vision of how you’re going to wear them. Right? You see something at the store, a new blouse, a new jacket, a new anything, and you’re already thinking about how it is going to look with something else you have in your closet. You have a vision.

    When you stand in your kitchen, thinking about a cake you want to bake or a dinner you want to feed to your family tonight you don’t just throw random stuff on a pan and think: “Oh God, I hope that tastes good, and I won’t poison anybody”.

    Well, let’s be honest, that happened to me a few times. However, I’m quite comfortable in the kitchen, and even without the recipe, I know what I’m doing. On those days when I cook like a maniac witch cooking up a new brew, nobody dies or gets food poisoning. (lucky me)

    Knowing what you want means that you have a vision. You plan for a certain outcome. 

    Only a handful of great things have been discovered or were made by an accident… Yes, happy accidents happen in art. Being in the right place in the right moment, and all that jazz. Like the picture, I took during this past Halloween. You’ll see what I’m talking about later in this post. Pure accident. When the action was happening, in that split of a second I SAW the outcome of the picture in my head and I was able to pull it off. I had a vision.

    Before you take any picture, ask yourself,
    – “WHY do I want to take it?”
    – “HOW can I make it so it says something meaningful?”

    I’m not saying that every single picture you take in your life must be a philosophical statement. But for gosh sake, stop, breath in, and breath out before you snap that picture. Think! of why this thing in front of you is so important that it needs to be photographed.

  2. Assess the available LIGHT

    What makes a picture look professional in the first place? Well, LIGHT and how the person who takes the picture uses it. So, if I had to give you only one piece of advice today it would be: LEARN HOW TO USE LIGHT in photography. This is one of the most frustrating things for people who don’t have any photography background. But when you get it, it’s the most rewarding one.

    Just like with the vision. I can tell you that you need one, but it’s up to you if you practice enough to start understanding it, “seeing the opportunity” in the environment around you. Creativity is like a muscle. I can be your coach, but the training itself needs to be done by you and your body if you want to see the results.

    Same with photography and understanding the principles of it. You need to get out and practice. And today’s world couldn’t make it any easier. With smartphones constantly being glued to our hands the opportunities to practice principles of photography ARE EVERYWHERE! So, the only way to grasp the concept of light is to go out and shoot in all the light available. Don’t listen to all these smart people telling you the best light is soft filtered light.

    The best light is the one that’s used with a vision. 

    Go out and take pictures when the sun is high up. Don’t just settle for photographing one thing. Practice taking pictures of people in full light and practice taking pictures of your garden in full light.  See how the same light might work for one thing but won’t work for the other.

    For example, harsh full light on your subject’s face might cause him/her to have dark shadows on his/her face. However, as I mentioned before, rules are meant to be broken. As much as the style of the picture below wouldn’t serve as a great headshot, it is a beautiful form of art. Artistic use of the available light. I want to invite you to play with it yourself.

    For this picture below, this was my vision. I wanted all the shadows to fall on my daughter’s face. I wanted her to have her eyes closed. I wanted for the whole picture to look dreamy, yet dramatic.

    professional photos for social media _ ewa samples photography

    Taking a picture of a pretty flower in the full harsh sun will bring beautiful colors out and you will be able to capture textures perfectly. Go out, practice.

    professional photos for social media

    Taking pictures at night or even during the day but in a dark room with a little natural light, especially when using your smartphone, is very challenging. The little light available might cause a lot of frustration. Smartphones’ cameras don’t perform great in low light and most of your pictures might come out blurry and grainy. For me, it is not a thing to be complaining about. For me, it’s an invitation to get creative and I invite you to have the same attitude.



    professional photos for social media _ ewa samples photography

    filtered natural light

    For professionally looking images for your social media, I’d recommend sticking with pictures taken in a shade. Place your subject in the full shade of natural soft light where the direct light won’t “touch them”. Whether it’s a product you’re selling or a lifestyle snap of your kids, or even a self-portrait. Your subject should be facing the light source. It will help you to create a nicely lit image with a minimum to zero shadows and without any bright light spots all over it.

    Few things to keep in mind:



    – USE NATURAL LIGHT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (night photography could be an exception to that). When shooting indoors try to turn off all the lights in the room and use only natural light. Like in the example below. 

    professional photos for social media _ ewa samples photography

    The top picture has lights in the room ON. The bottom picture has ONLY NATURAL light present.


  3. Pick your BACKGROUND wisely

    I always laugh when I see all the bathroom (or bedroom) selfies of gorgeous women with a toilet peeking somewhere in the background… You’ve probably seen them, too. So, before you hit that “snap” button, look at the screen of your camera and for a few seconds forget about the main subject. Whether the main thing you’re taking pictures of is you, or your kid, or your product, or a flower, instead of looking at that directly, look what’s around it. If you see things that distract you or take the attention from the main subject by being in the background try to adjust your angle. Try to move around your main subject or move your camera a little.

    If I happen to shoot a session at a location that has random people or structures in the background, I try to position my clients or myself in a certain way so most of that distraction happening there is right behind my clients. In other words, I use my main subject to cover the unwanted parts of the background.
    Another option would be to photoshop them out, of course, but you should learn how to work smarter not harder.


  4. Spice it up with ACTION / MOVEMENT


    Kids Photographer Morgan Hill Ewa Samples Photography
    When I take pictures of living things I like to include movement. That always adds more life to the image as well as originality. That’s why in my opinion headshots are boring. VERY boring and if I can, and my client is up for it, I like to ask them to do certain tasks while I take pictures of them. I like to bring their personality that way.

    women-headshot-ewa-samples-photography -1
    Adding hand gestures or asking people to walk from one point to another is very helpful. When working with kids ask them to jump, dance, or twirl.

    You can add action to photographs of non-living things as well. Including hands is a great way to do that.

    professional photos for social media


    – Ask your subject to move. It doesn’t have to be jumping or twirling but even shifting their weight from one leg to another can help, etc.

    – Ask them to tilt their head from one side to the other. Ask them to look right or left or somewhere above your head, or somewhere down to the floor. Making your subject look somewhere out of the frame adds action to the image because the viewer might be thinking: “why is she looking there? there’s must be something going on outside of the frame”. It builds anticipation, curiosity, and excitement.



    start creating professional photos for website social media

    One of the key ingredients in creating a delicious picture is composition. Composition in a photograph is the placement or arrangement of other visual elements, as separate from the subject of a photograph.

    If you shoot using a phone there’s an option called grid that you always should have turned on. Turn it on and never turn it off. If you don’t know how to do it, just google “how to turn on the grid in (insert the name of your phone.” The lines that will appear on your screen while taking pictures divide your screen into 9 rectangles. That’s the grid. This is going to help you with practicing something called “the rule of thirds”. And the rule of thirds is important because it’s going to help you compose more visually appealing images.

    I like the word composed because you can relate it to a song. You don’t want to listen to somebody randomly hitting the piano notes. Do you? Unless it’s a 2-year-old, of course, and then we all clap with fake applause. But, if somebody sits down and starts playing a perfectly composed song we sometimes forget to breathe. It’s so beautiful.

    Same with a beautifully composed picture. You don’t want to include a bunch of random pieces of everything in it. You want to match all the elements in your image to go well together like a perfectly composed visual song.

    A perfectly composed image is like a nicely balanced dish. The ratios of all the ingredients used in it are just right!


    – before you take the picture, try to position your subject anywhere on the points where the lines meet. Right top corner. Right bottom corner. Left top corner. Left bottom corner. Smack in the middle.

    Take a few pictures of the same subject but compose them differently. Then see if there’s one particular image, one particular corner that seems like “it makes sense” to have your subject there.

    start creating professional photos for website social media

    For those who are into The Queen’s Gambit here is an amazing post showing some great examples of the composition. 

  6. Take a variety of shots


    professional photos for social media

    Before you start taking your pictures you need to know where you’re going to be using them. Taking only one picture, and then trying to adjust it to look good on all your social media is almost impossible. It could cause your grey hair to grow 3 times faster, that’s for sure.

    For example, the Instagram feed (the squares you see when you visit someone’s profile) has different requirements than Instagram stories (the short videos or pictures that disappear within 24 hours from posting). One is square while to other is more of a portrait format. Not to mention that if you try to use the same image in your website’s header or anywhere else you will have the same problems.
    Also, if you try to create a FB ad or post from the same image you will run into a similar issue: things just won’t look right and you will have to spend a lot of time trying to make them look right.

    Remember to take several different images of the same thing. Some horizontal, some portrait. Some close-ups, and some from further away.

    Think ahead to compose the picture with space for text, if you’ll be running an ad or using the images to create a visually pleasing post with quotes on them.

    Keep all these things in mind, and I assure you that will save you a lot of time and headache. Plus with just one shoot you’ll end up with a lot of great images to distribute all over your social media for, maybe a week or maybe two (depending on how often you decide to post).

  7. EDIT

    I might disappoint you by saying that, probably, 99% of the pictures you see on social media that take your breath away and you wish you knew how to create them yourself, ARE HEAVILY EDITED. To be honest with you, I edit EVERY SINGLE IMAGE I post on social media. Even if it’s an image of my dog chasing a ball or a sandwich I had for lunch. It doesn’t matter if it’s a picture taken on my phone or a picture taken with my professional camera.

    Editing an image is like adding spices to your dish. A little bit of salt. A little bit of pepper. A teaspoon of lime juice. What would a dish be without a good mix of spices?

    The equipment used for creating beautiful images, no matter how good or professional has its limits. Pictures without edit often lack colors, contrast, and the WOW factor that you can easily add by tweaking your picture with free editing apps.
    For example, the picture below was taken on Halloween night. It was a happy accident that I already had the phone in my hand because this moment happened fast.
    We were getting out of an alley, there was light coming out of a storm drain and this red balloon tied to it. I saw my kids running towards it, and at the same time, there was a car driving towards us with its headlight on. The light from the car created a beautiful backlight and I just saw this moody picture in my head: Their silhouettes looking into the hole where Pennywise is hiding, in the darkness of a night. I quickly went down to my knees to adjust the angle, so the car wasn’t really visible in the picture. Remember the trick of blocking distractions from the background by using your subjects? Yeah… that’s what I used here. Snap!
    After we got home, I opened the picture in one of my favorite apps, Snapseed, and did some basic edits to bring the dark mood out more.

    When I hear people saying: “oh wow, you have a great camera! I heard it takes amazing pictures”, and believe me, I hear it quite a lot, I just laugh.  Yes, my camera took this picture:

    creating double exposure in photography
    but my creativity and my vision turned it into this:

    creating double exposure

    We are getting close to the end of this post in which I’ve tried to fit almost 20 YEARS of my photography experience into three thousand words. I feel like I barely scratched the surface. However, I also feel like I gave you quite the foundations to start developing your visual language. When you go out there and start following those 7 simple rules I know you are going to be heading in the right direction. It will take time and effort. We don’t just learn a language. We don’t just pick up a brush and start painting masterpieces. We don’t just open a cookbook for the first time in life and all of the sudden a 5 star dinner is served for family and friends. We don’t get a dog and the next day he knows all the tricks possible.

Learning a new skill takes time. It takes even more time to learn something that’s absolutely outside of our comfort zone. If you’re a computer geek, activities that require your creative brain to be involved might cause you some anxiety and frustration.

That’s why sometimes you need to decide to outsource something that you don’t want to do or invest your time in learning. For example, I don’t do my bookkeeping. I just don’t. And I never will. That gives me the time and energy to focus on what I’m good at and enjoy the most.

So, whether you plan to learn photography because you want to start presenting more beautiful images of your life, services, or your business in general or whether you plan to outsource it. Being able to see our world in a different light is a wonderful skill to have. You can turn an ordinary walk into a silent meditation filled with appreciating nature and all that’s she’s made out of.

In meantime, grab my gift and impress your family, friends, and social media followers even more.

And I can’t wait to see what you start creating.

Anniversary Family Session Castello Di Amorosa Calistoga || Bay Area Photographer

When things got bad at Calistoga a few weeks ago, all I could think about was this sweet anniversary family session at Castello Di Amorosa.

Anniversary Family Session Castello Di Amorosa Bay Area Photographer

Last year, when one of my very dear clients purchased a membership to Ewa Samples Photography, they said they want to use one of the sessions as their anniversary celebration. They wanted to do it in a special location!

We looked at locations within or very close to the Bay Area. We brainstormed for days. Each time we found something that they were happy to consider however there was another problem: did we want to pay hundreds of dollars of shooting permits on their grounds?

Was it worth it? – we thought.

Can we find something better? – yes, we knew we can.

So… the research continued.

As the research went on the proximity from the Bay Area grew bigger and bigger. Until we found just the spot.

Castello Di Amorosa in Calistoga


(this post is mixed with some iPhone shots of our family trip I made out of this session. Because I couldn’t just leave my kiddos behind when I was going to visit a CASTLE!) 

Castello Di Amorosa Ewa Samples Photography

Calistoga Castello Di Amorosa Ewa Samples Photography

Calistoga Castello Di Amorosa Ewa Samples Photography


This place looked perfect. My clients thought the same thing. We knew we found the spot. They did not charge for shooting permits which was an extra plus. The only charges were to buy a ticket to get in. 

I booked a cute Airbnb cabin and in March 2019 we were off for a great adventure. Our cabin was in Santa Rosa without Internet or TV and I LOVED IT! We spent the entire weekend exploring the property we stayed at, playing board games, cooking some delicious breakfasts, and visiting downtown Calistoga.

Calistoga Castello Di Amorosa Ewa Samples Photography


castello di amorosa ewa samples photography



For the Castello Di Amorosa, well, the place looked a little different in person. Smaller and VERY crowded. When I say “VERY crowded” I mean like elbowing people around you while trying to pass them in the narrow castle passages. Oh… the good old days when being in a crowded place was allowed… Hahaha…

crowded Castello di Amorosa

As you look through my clients’ pictures (the slideshow below) you probably won’t believe me. However, in reality, I had to use all the magic of “the right angle” during this session. I went down, and left and right and “block” people with my clients so you can’t see them in the background, and more… My back was really hurting after this session because I’d put in a lot of workout during it. But it was well worth it!

The memories are spectacular and I will always think about this session as something special. Not every day I book sessions which give me the opportunity to travel to very cool places.

Today Castello di Amorosa is recovering from 5 million dollars of loss in wine due to the recent Glass Fire and I wish them all the best in their speedy recovery.

Family Photography Sessions during Corona virus || San Jose Family Photographer

I’m stopping by to let you know that during this Summer I am still open for business. Many family photographers decide not to work and are taking their time off. That’s totally okay because this is a very personal decision to make.

However, instead of a variety of different packages and prices, with all that’s happening right now, I decided to offer 30 minutes long minis in the comfort of your own front porch or back yard. I want to make it as easy as possible for all my clients!


I  have spent countless hours driving around the Bay Area and testing new locations. I still do that, because I have clients who’ve been with me for the last 7 years and I don’t want to run out of new locations to offer them each year!

All outdoor photographers have their “super secret” list of favorite locations they are ready to recommend for their clients. I have such a list as well. But when the world turns topsy-turvy the list is as useless as the list you make for the hospital before your labor. Do you know what list I’m talking about?

I was asked to make such a list for the doctors and nurses before my first daughter was born. They told me to write my entire plan for the delivery.

So I went ambitious:

  • all-natural,
  • no painkillers,
  • vaginal delivery,

But when the labor came, I was begging for epidural, and when my husband opened his mouth and this sentence got out of him: “but honey we had a different plan” I was about to shred him to pieces.

So, yeah… the list of beautiful locations can wait for another time… It’s still available for my clients if they want it…




I want to make it as easy as possible for my clients. Plus those mini sessions are designed to be as affordable as possible, too.

With the right attitude and the right angle, we can make anything work. Plus, these are special times. And special times call for special solutions 🙂


As the world is absolutely unstable right now, and nothing is for sure, I really recommend taking care of your FALL pictures this SUMMER. 

There are some predictions that the shelter in place (in its full potential) is going to return this Fall. That means no sessions, again 🙁 So, I really want everybody to start thinking about their family photos a little earlier this year. It might feel weird, but I think it’s also awesome to think outside of the box.

I’m open for sweet and short (not to mention fun) sessions:

  • on your front porch, 

front porch mini session _ Ewa Samples Photography _ San Jose Family Photographer

  • in your backyard,

backyard mini session covid19 - Ewa Samples Photography

  • in-home lifestyle, like baking cookies or doing crafts and arts or hanging out with your pet.

No matter the size of the pet. I’m pretty pet friendly.

pet friendly photographer in San Jose _ Ewa Samples Photography


As always I’m very open to hiking sessions or beach sessions. If you’re feeling adventurous or simply want to document your family having fun somewhere outside your home, that’s absolutely fine.  Let’s make it fun, short, and filled with as many kisses and hugs as possible.

family photography sessions 2020 _ ewa samples photography _ morgan hill



The sessions I’m offering have two prices:

  • $175 for 10 images if you want it super short and kept to a minimum!
  • $250 for all images from the session

All images are going to be delivered online via online gallery and you will be able to purchase additional images after you see them – in a situation where you book the 10 images package but after you see the gallery you will want them all. And I know that this is going to happen because so far all my recent clients have done that! Hahaha!

This would be also a wonderful gift for families that you know could use a cheer-up these days! Or just for your sister or brother or a bestie!

Use the contact page to schedule your session!!!
See you soon!



Yellow Flowers Mini Sessions

Family Picture with a springer spaniel

A few weeks ago I set a new picture as my desktop background. A picture very special to my heart. My 3 girls and I – my daughters and my old lady Di (it’s the picture you see above). On the day I took it we already knew we have only a few days left with the old lady and my heart was already broken. She was my everything. My best friend. My companion and the only baby sitter of my kids I ever had.

On that day I put my nice shoes on and we went to the park to celebrate. Celebrate us and our time together. My sweet, old lady is gone and has been for many years now, but she will be in my heart for a lifetime.

I love looking at all the memories we made together. All the moments captured forever.

11 months ago I decided to add another four-legged family member because one heartbreak is not enough, I guess. Rambunctious Oreo. He even has his own Instagram, btw.

This past weekend I made an extra effort to celebrate him and my girls. Us together. Our time, the way we play. The way we hug. The way we love each other.

I know, someday these moments will bring tears to my eyes, just like all the memories of Lady Di. But that’s how it all goes.

So, now is your turn to make memories of the special hugs and kisses and playful moments engraved in your heart forever. The mustard flowers are popping up and it’s the perfect time to celebrate.

Let’s celebrate in joyful YELLOW FLOWERS that are popping out already!

Yellow Flowers Mini Sessions Mustard Flowers San Jose Photographer


Celebrate whatever you want.
Celebrate Yourself.
Celebrate Your family.
Celebrate Your best friend: A human, a dog or a guinea pig.

Just celebrate!

Because the perfect time is now. 

In the past, I had clients celebrating Breastfeeding moments perfectly hidden in the tall flowers or proudly standing in the joyful yellows!

I had pregnant mamas and a lot of families just having fun!

And this year, it’s your turn!

The fields don’t last long so book your session ASAP! 




Get outstanding Fall family pictures this year || Family Photographer, Morgan Hill, CA

It’s that time of the year, can you feel it!? I can! It’s time to get your Fall family pictures done!!! Oh, yes!!! I’m so excited for this Fall.

The season is in full blast, and I’m almost completely booked in October. That makes my heart sing because it means that so many families trusted me with their family portraits again! I just want to put exclamation marks at the end of almost every single sentence in this post because I’m just that excited!!! And honestly, I don’t get excited that easily.

Fall MINI SESSIONS November 9th Limited spots!!! $399 All images (1)

The location for this mini session is absolutely gorgeous. There is variety of beautiful backgrounds. All my clients who have had sessions with me there were always very happy with the images we created there.

If you’re interested in Fall mini sessions with me please follow this link and choose November 9th as your session date. After you pick your date and your time slot I’ll contact you personally to go over the details of your session.

You’re going to receive recommendations on how to prepare for your session, what to wear and simply what to expect when working with me.


If you’d like me to create for you outstanding Fall family portraits let’s connect!!! 

Even better, sign up for the membership to Ewa Samples Photography, so you won’t have to miss on any photo opportunities throughout the entire year. 


* indicates required

If membership is not for you simply get on my newsletter list so you’re always up to date about any specials, model calls and events (like workshops) I run through the year! 

Paws for Purple Hearts Puppy Petting || Menlo Park Photographer

Did you know that being a “puppy petter” is a real thing? Well, it is!

I’ve had quite the experience in puppy petting in my life. Let me count… Amor, Rosie, Muffy, Maggie, Oreo, Ewelina, Natalia… Oh wait… the last two are my kids… However, all of my pups came with other (dirtier) responsibilities. The puppy petting I’m talking about today is different. Plus it serves an amazing purpose.

Paws for Purple Hearts, Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy

I recently connected with a non-profit organization which trains and provides service dogs for veterans. 

Let’s travel in time to 2006. In that year Bergin University Of Canine Studies (located in Penngrove, California) with the partnership of The Menlo Park Veterans Administration Medical Center started a research program.

Why this program is so important? Because today that program is an amazing non-profit organization with 5 locations nationwide. That organization is called Paws for Purple Hearts.

A few months ago I traveled to Penngrove where PPH’s national office is located. There I met with the founder of the University, the creator of PPH, Dr. Bonnie Bergin, and the team. That was a great experience.

PPH connects veterans with highly trained service dogs. They call them champ service dogs. The organization believes golden retrievers and labradors (or a mix of those two) are the best breeds for the purpose of becoming the champ service dog.

The most amazing thing about their training program is that it involves between 40 to 60 veterans per dog. One pup can have a therapeutic impact on so many people who need it. WOW!

The puppies are born and spend most of their early puppyhood in Penngrove. After they reach a certain age, a volunteer drives them once a week to the Menlo Park location (and back) for a puppy petting event and to start their training with veterans. Now, the best part is that everybody (age 14+) can sign up to become a puppy petter. Yes, you read that right. You come and pet puppies for an entire hour, once a week. I can assure you, just that itself has therapeutic powers! Puppy petting is designed to introduce the pups to all kinds of positive stimulation around people and they need as many of us as possible. 🙂

paws for purple hearts, puppy petting, June th _ewa samples photography

It costs PPH $35k to fully train ONE service dog! Can you imagine that?

Bergin University programs are growing. PPH is only one of them. When I visited Penngrove’s team they seemed really busy with 3 different litters. One of the litters will go to PPH. It’s the one you can see in the video. The two remaining litters will go to different programs. However, with the growth, they need to increase manpower and raise money.

Simply speaking, they need as much help as they can get.

Volunteers are always needed! Same with donations. PPH’s website has detailed information about getting involved with them, so please visit and see if you can!

Maybe I’ll see you there next time.

Summer Challenge for Kids. Big Ideas Start Small.

“Big Ideas Start Small”  – Summer challenge for kids (and their parents)


big ideas start small summer challenge for kids


Last Christmas my daughter attempted creating an online store. She was selling one of her paintings. She participated in creating a short video about it and the rest was done by me, her mama! We posted it once, and we forgot about it. The whole thing wasn’t a big hit.

We did nothing else to market it and spread the word about her little adventure.

We did, what many first timers do… We planted the seed but never watered the soil after that. 

Since then, she asked me countless times if we can do more, so she can sell more and support WWF. In other words, if I can do more to help her out. I told her, she will need to step up her game. I’ll support her and give her as much of my time and knowledge as I have, but the rest must to be done by her.

Every time I talked about running a business and about all the responsibilities that come with it her eyes glazed over and I knew I lost her.

It was simply boring.

Our life was a little crazy over the last year or so. I wasn’t pushing her to do anything with it. There was a lot happening already. However, with the cancelation of my Kids Photography Workshop, a space opened up for something I’ve been meaning to organize for a long time:

Business workshop for kids!!!! 

With all that in mind I decided to create something more fun. Something with a simple language that a kid can understand. Plus engaging and relatable content would also be nice! (right?)

Coming up with a short list of MUST KNOW topics for this was hard. There is so much I’d wanted to cover. However, I think I got the essentials down! We will find out if I’m right while putting all the bullet points into a practice over the next several weeks 😉

brainstorming _ ewa samples photography


I gathered a small (but strong) group and we are up for an adventure!

By the end of this Summer we are going to have small businesses opened and running! 

We will cover such topics as branding, connecting with their clients through storytelling, web design, creative writing, and money (of course).

During this workshop all participants are going to learn how to:

  • name and connect with their superpowers (aka unique talents),
  • come up with a interesting concept for their business based on the unique skills they already have,
  • create a brand,
  • create simple marketing campaign from scratch,
  • create a website,
  • start their business with mostly free tools!!!
  • and more…

We will have trips to local businesses and listen to other CEO’s stories.



With their notebooks ready for new ideas to be born!


Our first meeting was a big hit! 

All the girls got notebooks and sticker books.

business workshop for kids. ewa samples photography

business workshop for kids. ewa samples photography

We set up 3 main goals for our businesses. 

Lead. Serve. Impact.


business workshop for kids. ewa samples photography-14

We had really great brainstorming session. All the girls supported each other and participated with their own ideas. Non of them had to think long to be able to list a few causes that they can support with their business. Animal shelters, homeless shelters and kids hospitals, animal hospitals, and more! WOW!

business workshop for kids. ewa samples photography-2

Our team is made out of 4 girls. Two are my daughters and two are Carlie’s.

Carlie is the owner of Lehrfeld Farm in San Martin. And we are using her studio for our Summer Challenge meetings.

We are planning a few adventurous field trips already. However, we will have some exciting guest in the studio as well.

Plus we always have fun afterwards:

business workshop for kids. ewa samples photography

Stay tuned to see what those young enterpreneurs will create.




Kids Photography Workshop || Morgan Hill Photographer

This is my second year of running Summer kids photography workshop.

I know how much all the kids like the screen time.
I like to make this time more productive and educational. 

And I know with these classes kids get quite the great mix of all that.

Is the kids photography workshop a good fit for your child?

kids photography workshop_morgan hill_san jose

First of all, I don’t know a child who would be absolutely mad for giving him/her a phone and the permission to play with it. 

Second of all, this workshop is going to show the kids new ways for using their creativity. You will be amazed how interesting their point of view is. 

Like, back in April my older daughter (9 years old) entered her very short (and silly) video to Poppy Jasper International Film Festival. The video was played in front of an audience at the Gavilan College in Gilroy. It was really a great day for her! I have to mention that all the clips for the video were made on my iPhone and the entire video was put together on an iPad.

Poppy Jasper International Film Festival Gilroy

Poppy Jasper International Film Festival

My daughter is absolutely fluent with iMovie (iPad or iPhone version). She doesn’t have much access to games and silly apps. However, if she mentions making a video or editing pictures I tend to say YES to the time in front of a mobile device.  

This workshop is going to teach kids the basic knowledge about photography. All of that without the boring stuff necessary to master DSLR cameras.

I’ve seen kids snapping killer black and white images after going through this workshop. Something they were not even considering before.

If you want your kid to be able to look around and see the beauty in a leaf or an old fence… well, this workshop is the way to go about it.

This workshop is for kids who are curious, love outdoors and art.
If your kid is not into art, this is a great introduction to this subject. 

During my own battles with self-esteem and so many different issues I’ve learned that photography has been an amazing addition to the tools I’ve developed through the years.

Being able to turn my smartphone into a tool that helps me to express myself feels good. I can no longer say I’m bored if I have my phone with working camera and a few editing apps available. 

I’m a strong believer that the more we practice being creative the easier it comes to us. So, if you want your little one to gain great skills but also practice their creativity, secure their spot today!

…and, let’s get creative together!

P.S (I added the possibility to do individual classes instead of the entire workshop)

Spring Mini Sessions. Lost yourself in flowers! {San Jose Family Photographer}



Do you feel Spring in the air? Or it’s just me?

I kid you not, I get outside and I can smell Spring. Like literally I can smell it. Fresh, juicy green grass. The refreshing air after the rain. The birds chirping. 


This weather we’re having right now reminds me of Summer rain in Poland. Well, a little warmer Summer rain.

Anywho, the rain and than the warmth means only one thing in here… It’s time to scout mustard flowers locations…

And that’s exactly what I did this week, and I’m excited to announce MUSTARD FLOWERS MINIS… (follow the link to read the details and see some breathtaking mustard flowers images from past years)

Spots available on February 22nd, 23rd and 24th



To stay on top of all the events and specials I run through the year sign up for my newsletter. Some of them do not go public so it’s always great to be on that list and get all the exclusive offers. Plus I’m planning to release lots of tutorials and educational materials this year. If you on my list you’re going to be one of the very first ones to hear about them. Test them. Benefit from them and be inspired by them if you on that list! 

Creativity is like a muscle || Bay Area Photographer


Creativity is what helps me escape a lot of my inner demons. 

Demi Lovato


Creativity is like muscles Self Portrait Ewa Samples Photography San Jose Photographer

I strongly believe that creativity is not a talent. I believe creativity is like a muscle. We have to exercise it in order to grow it.

We are all born with the same amount of creative potential. However, when we go through life we learn different ways of dealing with problems. In the process, we develop our creativity or we decrease it.

I believe some people are prone to be more creative than others. In other words, some people are born with specific talents and can use them without having to spend countless hours on practice. Still, talent without creativity and vision won’t take you far.

Not everybody is exposed to arts and creative ways of expressing themselves as they go through life.

I prefer when my kids spend their time painting with me than doing their homework, for example. However, I know many parents who rather send their kids to after school math classes.

I’d also prefer if there were more art in schools and less testing and scoring and chasing some kind of invisible standard or more defined ways of success in life – like being a doctor, a lawyer, a broker, or IT person.

I believe art is powerful. Participating in art making in particular. With today’s technology and easy access to art supplies, creativity is one of the best ways to invest in yourself and your potential.

This year, I’ll be investing a lot of time and effort into spreading the art. I’ll try to show you how to see this world around us in a more artistic way. I’ll give you some ideas how to express the heck out of yourself via photography, creative editing, and some mixed media techniques.

I tend to express myself a lot with self-portraits. Therefore, I’ll be using a lot of them in my tutorials and workshops. You can translate this knowledge into whatever you’re interested in. It could be nature or your kids or your pets or even architecture. Or all of it.

To create material that interests you I’d like your help. Please take a few minutes and let me know by filling out this survey. If you had the opportunity, what would you want to learn about photography wise?

Otherwise, I hope you stick around and help me develop the vision I have for using creativity in our lives. Because I have a big vision and I want to invite you to be a part of it.

To stay on top of all the events and specials I run through the year sign up for my newsletter. Some of them do not go public so it’s always great to be on that list and get all the exclusive offers. Plus I’m planning to release lots of tutorials and educational materials this year. If you on my list you’re going to be one of the very first ones to hear about them. Test them. Benefit from them and be inspired by them if you on that list! 

Halloween Playdate with pictures || Saratoga Family Photographer

This year Halloween came surprisingly early. We got our first costume about 2 weeks ago. Not like I planned it. We went to get a shampoo to be precise. We came back with Halloween costume. Of course, as soon as we got the first one we had to go shopping for the second. You know how that goes when you have more than one kiddo. As soon as we got both we went to take Halloween pictures. Because for once in my lifetime I wasn’t running behind with things… Haha.

halloween pictures 2018 _ Halloween Photo Session San Jose Ewa Samples Photography-24


It always blows my mind how a costume can make a child happy. They are always looking forward to the day when they can dress up in them and run around. And it’s only because of them I organize the Halloween Portrait Playdate each year. They always remind me of it when October sneaks on on me.

halloween pictures 2018 _ Halloween Photo Session San Jose Ewa Samples Photography-18


Hey, Mom?! Are you doing the Halloween Playdate this year?” 

And I’m like, oh shut… Time to put the add together… If not those two, I’m not sure if my business would survive (just kidding)

So, just so you know. There is this thing going on this Sunday, October 14th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Halloween Portrait Playdate.

Absolutely free to attend if you come in your Halloween costumes. After the event all participants will get online galleries with their images to make whatever purchases they want from there. For detailed pricing of the available packages and to get your FREE ticket head over here. 

Hope to see you there. And I hope to create super fun Halloween Pictures of your Little Ones or even better – of your entire family!



To stay on top of all the events and specials I run through the year sign up for my newsletter. Some of them do not go public so it’s always great to be on that list and get all the exclusive offers. 



Pumpkin Stock Images Bundle || San Jose Photographer


Fall is here. OCTOBER is here. And everything pumpkin is here. As a business owner, I know how important the visual part for the online presence is for many solopreneurs and bloggers. I also know what a pain in the butt it is to research the right images for promotions, specials, gift cards, blog posts, etc.

With that in mind, I have created a package of 32 high-resolution digital images of all sorts of pumpkiness… plus a flower or two.

Pumpkin Stock Images Bundle

(click on the image to get to the shop)

Pumpkin Stock Images _ Ewa Samples Photography

These can be used for marketing any October specials, events, used in blog posts, and many other forms.

They will go well with any Fall post for Pinterest, Instagram or Facebook.

Great for greeting and “thank you” cards for clients, friends, and family.

Pumpkin-up October’s digital and/or printed flyers. Decorate your website with oh-so-orangeness…

The sky is the limit…

Meantime, feel free to sing up for my upcoming events, specials, or freebies throuh my email list. Some of them do not go public and I can assure you, they are awesome. Just like my subscribers. 🙂 


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