This Smash Cake in one of my favorite locations in Saratoga was a crazy one. Normally a quiet place, this park turned into a corporate event on the day of our session.
I got to the location a little earlier. To my big surprise, what I saw is the entrance being blocked by a “corporate event” sign. Loud, live band music is playing. The park is swarmed with people. The scent of BBQ and grilled sausage is filling the air. And I’m panicking.
I called the client, explained what’s happening, and promised I’ll find a great solution to this before they get here.
I quickly started listing all the locations I knew in the area. And there is a few. However, the conclusion was simple. We didn’t have the time to make the drive to any of them before we would lose the gorgeous light. With a few minutes to spare, I went inside for a hunt for the best spot in the swarmed with people park. As I entered it, I realized, I know just the right place. I was not mistaken.
We were able to do the entire session without a single person bothering us on the back of the entire party. However, the smell of the bbq and grilled sausage was really hunting me the entire time. LOL
Saratoga Smash Cake Session
After the session, Kristen and her family gave me the best gift a photographer can get. A beautiful review:
AMAZING! Our family session was on Sunday night and it’s Tuesday and we already have our pictures! Ewa was great with our son and was able to improvise when the park where we were planning to have our session was closed! She knew there was a clearing, sort of in the woods, towards the back of the park and it was the perfect backdrop for our family session. The pictures are fantastic and I would recommend Ewa over and over!
If you’re ready to make some magic this Fall with me, grab this gift from me, and schedule your first session, TODAY! My weekend dates in September are booked however there is still time to create beautiful memories in October and November. Well, even December is cool, if you like to splash in puddles!
Today, I’d like to chat a little about ways how you can rock back to school pictures. No matter what camera you have. No matter what props you want to use or how much time you have. You don’t have to follow all those steps. Focus on one if you want, and you will see a huge improvement in your experience! Save yourself sanity, and at the same time create fun memories.
Don’t over think it. Don’t overstress!
The steps in this post are named by the excuses many of the parents have in order to not to do the back-to-school pictures of their kids. Many just rather go with snapping a quick image on the 1st day while the kids are running out the door (already late!)
Here are the excuses (aka steps) and how to overcome them:
1.”My kid doesn’t want to go with MY IDEAS.”
No biggie. In years of working with kids on a different level of excitement when it comes to being photographed, it is important to just let it go. Sometimes. Pick your fights wisely, I say.
Breathe in and then breathe out. Then go with the flow. You have to be able to sacrifice your super great ideas for having any pictures at all.
I know it all too well, myself.
I have a girl who’s always willing to do what I come up with + some of her crazy ideas.
I also have a girl who often changes her mind as quickly as a woman (only) can do it. By the time I’m ready to click the shutter button, she’s already changed her mind and doesn’t want to do what we earlier established. She doesn’t want to wear what I put on her. And she doesn’t want to be at that particular location anymore.
AND if we don’t change it immediately, well, I might as well put my camera back in my bag and forget about everything.
Ok! I’m exaggerating the whole picture, but you know what I’m talking about. If not… well, you’re lucky! haha!
As I mentioned before, just go with the flow. After you done with photographing what the little one had in mind for the whole session (this is exactly what’s going to happen in many, many cases!), add fun text in Photoshop or Canva. You can also use phone editing apps to add text (something like Snapseed)
2. “I don’t have any props.”
Backpack. Lunchbox. Cute glasses. Cute hairstyle. Fun outfit. And you good to go.
Don’t forget about documenting the details. You might remember them today. In a few years, they’ll become just a foggy blur. You’ll be happy you took pictures of the cute socks or the cute lunch box your kid was using in 1st or 2nd or 6th grade.
3. “I don’t have any interesting background”
Yes, you do!
Just declutter a small space on your backyard / front yard.
Walk your kid to school and take a picture with school buses in the background. (but wait for most of the crowd to disappear).
Just remember to avoid photographing your kids in front of the school sign with the whole name and address on it! Please keep your kids safe. Nobody has to know where your kids go to school. I know it’s easy to figure those things out, but why make it easy on the wrong kind of people.
Go to the park. Go to the library.
Just remember to ask for a permission if you’re planning to take pictures in buildings and other public places. Be careful with that. You might not get in trouble if you’re a private person shooting your own kids, but just to be safe. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Note side: Thank you to Morgan Hill Library for being a part of my daughter’s stylized photo shoot. Check their FB page for more shots from adventures of my private Pippi Longstocking.
4. “The whole day is SO HECTIC. I just don’t have the time!!! And I didn’t even have MY COFFEE yet” – says every mom on the 1st day of school.
Yep! That’s why back to school pictures don’t have to (or even shouldn’t) be done ON THAT PARTICULAR DAY (the 1st day of school). The kids don’t care. They will be happy if you throw an idea out there for dressing up and going out to goof off with the school supplies and what not.
Go for a walk the day before the 1st day of school.
Don’t forget to do it during the golden hour for easier shooting and for not having to deal with the harsh light. I often don’t do it because I like to make my life harder, every chance I get. And I actually like to work with all kinds of light and the full bright sun doesn’t scare me that much. However, to save your sanity and to get really nice images of your kids, just wait to one hour before the sunset and then go out and shoot!
If not the day before then wait for the weekend to come, and then get them out and play with all their school supplies.
For most of the time, they will be more relaxed and ready to be themselves.
Because who is him/herself on the 1st day of school??!?!?!
5. If you have more than one kiddo, try to “catch” them together.
In our case, getting these two together in one picture is like trying to catch a fish with bare hands.
So, if I was able to do it, YOU CAN DO IT, too!
Ask them to touch their noses. Or ask them to tickle each other. Anything to get them close enough and playful enough.
6. “I can’t take good pictures.”
Well, that’s what professional photographers are for. Just saying. 😜
And before you go, I felt generous today and made these very simple but colorful free printable lunch box notes. Want it, grab it. Don’t want it, don’t grab it.
And if you’re feeling generous today, left a comment, share this post or send me a virtual hug.
If you’d like me to photograph some of your #1st day of school adventures let me know!!! I’m here to help you create amazing memories.
Even better, sign up for the membership to Ewa Samples Photography, so you won’t have to miss on any photo opportunities through the entire year!
Anybody up for a Mom and Me Beach Session?!? I am!!!
Earlier this year I had a session with Caroline for Mother’s Day. And right then she said, we need to get together for a beach session this year.
So we did, last week. It’s more of a playdate when we meet, to be honest with you. The whole session part takes us about 15 minutes. But then we spent 4 hours talking while the kids are in their happy state.
Caroline comes to update her mom & me pictures at least once a year. She’s been doing it for the last 5 years.
I encourage all moms to jump on board.
Because what’s today needs to be cherished as bold as possible. Don’t wait for the better you. For the thinner you. For You that you hope to be tomorrow or in 6 months or a year.
Don’t wait for permission to celebrate yourself or whatever you’re going through in your life right now.
The water has been present in the last month quite a lot, as you can see in my Instagram feed 🏊🏻
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And it feels like when I want to escape for a little, water is where I’m heading. The sound of water in my ears especially. The sound of water or the quiet world it gives. It calms my mind.
The sound of the ocean and water calms me, and I recently started to listen to white noise sounds for meditation and relaxation purposes. I am sharing one video I found on youtube. If you’ve never tried white noise sounds you should check it out.
Let’s hop to the beach someday!
Here are some dates for beach sessions available through July and August. Hop on board TODAY! Pick a date. Weekday or weekend. Pick a package and pick THE dress… All done.
If you want to do it on any other days not listed in the form or on a different beach, let me know. I’ll see what we can do about it! 🙂
If you need help with picking the right dress then this ebook below will help you.
Summer is almost here!!! YEAY!!! I can’t wait to have my kids bored to death and complaining about the endless lack of cartoons to watch and things we can’t do…
I’m kidding. I’m seriously kidding… I love Summer breaks! It takes me back to the times when my girls were stuck with me 24 hours a day. Haha. I really miss those days. We were able to spend all days just getting lost in new locations, finding new hikes and new activities to do…
This Summer I am planning to keep them pretty busy, though. From assisting me during my sessions to participating in workshops…
And with that, I’d love to invite you to:
SUMMER PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP FOR KIDS !!!
July 9, 6:00 pm at Lehrfeld Farm
Carlie, the owner of the farm runs her Art Classes in her very cute studio and she was amazing enough to let me use it for my classes.
This workshop is built on 6 classes.
It’s for kids age 8 -12.
Each participant needs to bring a smartphone with working camera feature.
Each class will start on Monday (July: 9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th & August: 6th and 13th) at 6 pm.
It’s amazing to see what kids can create if we give them a little guidance. My 8-year-old daughter is into drawing and sketching. Since I bought her a sketchbook, and encourage her to pick it up on a regular basis I’ve noticed an amazing improvement.
This workshop is to encourage your kids to look at the world with a curious eye and experiment with their creativity.
This workshop is meant to guide them through the basic information about the art of photography and storytelling via image.
Each class will start with a bowl of popcorn and an intro to a particular topic:
July 9th – Working with Light
July 16th – Portrait & Nature & Architecture & Macro (
July 23rd – Composition, While Space (Negative Space), Silhouettes
July 30th – Storytelling (approaching your subject in an interesting way)
August 6th – Editing
August 13th – Finding their niche (aka Superpower)
AFTER EACH INTRO AND TIME FOR Q & A, WE WILL HIT THE FARM TO PRACTICE WHAT WE LEARNED. THE KIDS WILL LEARN HOW TO USE HOUSEHOLD ITEMS TO WORK WITH LIGHT OR BUILD THEIR OWN BACKDROPS.
You will get a script for each class so after your child comes home you can practice what they learned with them. Serve them as their models (FUN!) and guide them if they have any additional questions.
The class is limited to 10 participants and as of today, we have only 3slots available.
Book your kid’s spot with early bird price of $199 for the entire series by emailing Ewa at email@example.com
or fill out this form:
HOW this session STARTED
1st birthday cake smash, Almaden, San Jose
I’m happy to say that this mama booked me because I was one of the very few photographers in the Bay Area who was offering video along with the photography from my sessions. I have to admit, it’s not easy to do both, but the love for making those videos is stronger than the difficulties.
So here we go…
The rest of the story
A few weeks ago, when the grass was still green here in the Bay Area, I had this oh-so-gorgeous 1st birthday cake smash session. This mama ordered a custom made dresses for both her and her baby girl from India just for the purpose of celebrating her little baby girl first year. While having a few phone consultations over the phone, I was able to convinced her to bring those dresses to the shoot. I am so glad she did!!!
During this session I could not stop talking about how impressed I am with this baby girl for not taking her headband off. Haha. I know little babies, and I know the most tricky part of dressing them for a photo shoot is to make them wear a headband or a hat. She did not mind it at all. Through the entire session it was like she didn’t have anything on her head. Her mom mentioned that this is not her normal behavior and normally she takes off anything they put on her within a few seconds. So, it looks like we got super lucky for this photo shoot.
Well, I think we got double lucky, because once rescheduled this session was done two days after we had quite a lot of rain falling from the sky… For days…
So, cheers to double luck, and amazing 1st birthday celebration!!!
P.S If you’d like to stay on top of any specials for your next photo shoot, weekly chats and other goodies sign up for my newsletter.
For quite some time I’ve been thinking about doing a 6th b-day celebration photo session with my younger daughter. In the past she wanted to be Moana, then she wanted to be Pipi (because of her sister’s previous photo shoot). I wanted it to be personalized like the Pipi photo shoot. At the same time I wanted to be able to capture my daughter’s personality and the way she loves all the creatures she comes in contact with.
While brainstorming the ideas I received a message from Carlie from Lehrfeld Farm . She was interested in a personal project we hope to work on in the near future. She invited us to her home which is also her farm and her art oasis.
In my last post I was talking about one of the most beautiful places in Morgan Hill. Today, I have to admit that Carlie’s farm is getting very close in ranks. Well, being very specific: one place is in Morgan Hill and one in San Martin, so… 😂😂😂
After visiting the farm I came across an image that inspired me and pushed me to ask Carlie if I can visit her again. During our previous visit I saw how much my daughter(s) enjoyed being there. I decided that the farm is where I want to do my daughter’s 6th b-day celebration photo session. When I shared the idea with my little one (she wouldn’t be happy if I told her I call her that) she was beyond happy.
I think the best b-day gift was just the time at the farm for her. She got to cuddle with chickens, feed the bearded dragons live worms and run with Silver (the miniature horse).
In some of these pictures I see a future teenager in her and all I want is to wish for a magic spell to prevent both of my girls from growing up. But the only magic is now.
Happy Birthday my sweet, sweet baby!
It’s been raining cats and dogs if you haven’t noticed. I feel like this year, I’ve enjoyed the rain as I haven’t in a long long time. For some reason, it reminds me a lot of Poland (my home country). I’m not sure why, exactly. On some days when it was warmer AND raining, a weird thought went through my mind. I compared the weather to Polish Summer. Warm rain, this fresh scent. Just wonderful.
In addition, all this rain is making the world a beautiful place. Especially within nature. I can’t wait to pack my camera bag and head out the door for some good hike and pictures taking after all the wetness goes away. Well, most of it. I still like shooting in the rain and if you’re up for it, I do have some availability for a family session in the rain.
The rain and the cold did not prevent me and my family from going out to the most beautiful place in Morgan Hill. This place is my oasis, and as one of my friends recently notice: “you must like it because you’re always there”. Well, yes. I like it. And I’m almost always there. Especially with my kiddos or my dog.
These images are from April last year. This year the reservoir has half of the water, but it’s still pretty. And it is soooo green!!! Seeing the wate level I secretly wish for more rain. Please, don’t send hateful thoughts my way for that. Haha. This place needs more rain.
Remember as soon as the rain stops you will have about 2 months if not less to get your session done in the amazingly green and lush nature, where the grass is looking juicy and not hay-like. So, check your calendars and plan ahead.
This year’s winter break was pretty cold. However, I was pretty happy it wasn’t raining. On Monday we packed a lunch and plenty of snacks and we headed to our favorite place ever. I don’t have to ask my kids twice if they want to go to Uvas Reservoir. They just love it. So do I.
We played with the dog, and we chatted with strangers who grilled some sausages right next to us. When they left they left behind hot charcoal. For us, it was an opportunity to play with fire. haha.
We actually made a small fire using leaves and sticks. We grilled leftover sandwiches, and then a pinecone (because why not?) It was very cold but with all that warmth and exploring 5 hours went just like that! We came home smelling like fire.
1st day of the Winter Break, Morgan Hill.
I love having the girls with me. I miss the good old days before they started the school. We would go out to hike and explore without carrying what time it is. I love having the opportunity to hang out with them, explore, and be active.
The next day we had a great walk at the Coyote Creek Trail with friends. I planned for 2h of walk. It ended up after 4 hours. So much fun.
During the walk, a friend told me about the 17-mile drive. I have never done it, so the next day we packed and headed over there. What a great time we had. Thanks, Hailey from Archer Inspired for the idea and for coming along with us!
17 mile drive
This post is a mix of iPhone and big girl camera images. I’ve recently been reaching for my big girl camera only for work. I’m trying to master the possibilities my iPhone can give me. If you’d like, I’m leading iPhone photography workshop at Los Altos library on the May 31st. Stop by if you’d like to learn how to document your trips in an exceptional way using nothing more then the iPhone!
Yesterday’s spontaneous trip to Thorson Ranch in San Martin (but we entered it from the Morgan Hill side. haha!) was a hit of the month. Well, the month just started and I’m already excited for what it can bring with such a start.
I knew where horses are our kids’ happiness will follow. Not to mention my girls’ favorite movie these days is the “Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron”
While passing Thorson Ranch yesterday we saw a crowd of trailers and horses, and we decided to have a look at whatever was happening there. We were heading out for a spontaneous trip anyway, and this was happening right around the corner from where we live.
I had to do an iPhone production from the even as well, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t, or didn’t try.
Just keep in mind I rode a horse once in my life. And he threw me into the river. I was 7 years old. I wish I had bigger and better experience with horses during my life because I really like them. OH, and once, I spent an entire month as summer camp tutor during horse riding camp. In beautiful Polish mountains. The kids, who otherwise were very high maintenance, were very eager to get up early in the morning to clean the poop (so they can get extra credits for riding). It was amazing to witness their passion for horses.
Anyway, I’ve seen the arena busy on several occasions in the past but never got inside to have a look at what was happening there. Despite the fact they are our neighbors.
Equipped with the best camera possible – the only one I had with me, my iPhone, I tried to document our experience. Here it is!
The kids loved it. Now I can’t get out of my head the idea of signing up my girls for horse riding classes. I think that would be a dream come true for them, and oh, the endless opportunities to get amazing images of horses…
It’s my 11th week of MUSIC THURSDAY… WHAT?!?! Small pieces of my life inspired by music.
Yes, 11 weeks ago I posted first piece of music on my FB.
Out of the blue, probably because I was feeling a little blue myself, I started Music Thursday. I did it planning to share a little bit of me with people. With new followers and those who already follow me. However it’s been a fun to watch experience, since it seems like people feel a little confuse why would I, the photographer, share music on my page, instead pictures.
Music is a big part of ME. Of who I am. What I do. How I think and feel. And I like to work with people I can connect on a deeper level. Not only the client – photographer level. But I also have a feeling that often people don’t want that connection. Or are not aware it’s important. Especially in days when all markets are flooded with the same kind of businesses, offering the same kind of services.
I for example, like to meet for a coffee with my potential clients. Long before they hire me. Sometimes they go home and I never hear back from them (mostly because the husband said NO – it’s sad but true), however many times, we just click. And I LOVE when that happens. And from that moment we know that we will be working together for years.
So for those who want deeper connection, once a week, particularly on THURSDAY I share a piece of music dear to my heart. Sometimes, I can listen to one song over and over and over again for weeks. It guides me through the day, it sits in my head like a butterfly in a cocoon, waiting to break free and fly away. And when that happens I move to another song, or start looking for something new.
I was hoping that if I share mine and then ask people to share theirs I will soon end up with several new artists to listen to, and I will be able to update my Spotify lists. I also feel like sharing your favorite piece of music with someone is opening your heart a little in a attempt of connection. The connection that is often lost in the business of social media.
And I wasn’t mistaken.
My first share was, SIA:
And right under that post I got two new songs I’m now addicted to:
This song is played so often in my house, my kids know the lyrics by heart now.
You can see the whole list of songs I posted and what other shared with me here. I hashtag them #ewasmusicthursday for easy access.
I’m now also addicted to English musician Birdy. I love almost each and every song of hers. When I listen to her it’s so hard to pick which song I want to save the “favorites” album, and which to omit.
Not to overwhelm you with too many pieces to listen at once, I invite you to visit #ewasmusicthursday and browse for anything that sounds interesting.
Or join the fun and share your favorite piece under my today’s post, which is a little bit different that what I have shared so far.
I’d love if you liked my page and came back each week to share your music story. If you have one.
I hope to see / hear you there.
If you’d like to work with me shoot me an email and I’d love to meet for a coffee.
Last year, I had a vision for my Holiday card. I’d arranged several dates to do it with my family, and each time there was something that pushed the first date to the second date. And then the second date to the third date. And then the rain came. And then it got very cold. And I finally said, it’s today! With a grumpy husband, hungry kids, and a dog that was all over the place we went out.
For the first 15 minutes, I was trying to figure out HOW for the sake of it all, am I going to manage the big umbrella (behind us on a downward slope), that was flying away with the wind every time I let it go, while running towards the camera to set the self timer, then running back to position myself and manage my kids who were not having it. And the husband. You know, the regular thing. Standing like a statue in a place where he was put, looking up the newest news that might have appeared during the last 15 minutes.
My hands were freezing. In my mind I was just about to commit a murder on somebody. I was ready to throw everything down, and to start jumping on it like a mad woman, smashing and breaking all the equipment.
And here we were, holding a sign that says JOY! Oh the best joke of that entire Holiday Card making process. Isn’t that the truth of self made holiday cards… (at least I got an awesome feedback from almost everybody who received the cart!). The process was similar to a childbirth: you hate everybody around you during it, but after you see the baby, everything is forgotten. (or so they say…) Hehehe (as my 5 year old says it).
If you’re still thinking about doing your own holiday photos (or skipping it all together), because:
- the offers you see don’t look like anything you’d want to have on your Holiday Card, (same old, same old holiday photos), (that’s why I was considering not doing any holiday minis this year because I was struggling with coming up with something special for my clients)
- you really need 1 or 2 (ok, 3 images at the most), – and you could always use some of the iPhone photos you already have. I DARE YOU!
- you want something unique,
Well, then stop that train of thought. I have something better for you. Something that will save your sanity.
We will find a unique message for your card!
No matter if you have kids or maybe…
…expecting a delivery…
or maybe, you have a different kind of kids…
Holiday Mini Sessions – Unique Silhouettes
Detailed address will be available upon signing up. Email me to firstname.lastname@example.org to secure your spot (or use my contact form).
OR SIGN-UP HERE
If you want to get very special offers and prices for mini-sessions, full sessions and portrait playdates, sign up for the membership to Ewa Samples Photography.
or stay on top of all the specials I run through the year by signing up to my newsletter:
Let me introduce you to this amazing family. I’ve been working with them for the last year. We are going strong second year. Shayla is a fan of my annual membership and the way she uses it always makes me very happy. When it comes to have a family session with her she always comes up with fun ideas.
For example, I will forever remember running around Stanford with a group of adults (and kids) dressed in pjs!! Christmas Pjs, to be precise. You should see my grin when, after waiting for them to arrive at the location, I saw a person in pjs appearing in the horizon. And then another. And then a few kids… That was THE BEST!
Before that, though our first session was in Hallowen costumes (and halloween pjs). That was our very fist session during which I fell in love in the time I have with this family, every single time we meet. It’s not about the interaction with me. But it’s about the happiness and the normal-ness. The normal craziness thats’ happening during the session. We pose a little, but most of the time I chase the kids, trying to keep up with their level of energy!
This past April, they chased bubbles in the gorgeous sunlight…
sat on a flower swing made by H & J Flowers
and laid in the tall, green grass.
and all of that within 12 months from her fist session.
Our second year of the membership we started with a super wet family session in Saratoga. And super fun, I have to add. (well, fun it is always with the Denenbergs!)
and some pictures, as usual!
If you want to be able, like Shayla, do several amazing sessions during one year, sign up for the membership to Ewa Samples Photography.
or stay on top of all the specials I run through the year by signing up to my newsletter: