iPhone Photography

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)

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! 

Kids Photography Workshop

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:


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) 





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 contact@ewasamplesphotography.com

or fill out this form

Winter Break. Morgan Hill Family Photographer

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! 

Ranch Versatility Challenge Thorson Ranch Morgan Hill

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.

Ranch Versatility Challenge Thorson Ranch Morgan Hill_5_ewa samples

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…

Annie Leibovitz San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

Today my 4 year old and I drove to San Francisco to see Annie’s Leibovitz free exhibition, “Women: New Portraits”. After that we sat on the beach and had lunch. We also stopped by Palace of Fine Arts that’s right next to it. The weather was gorgeous, and the only thing that was missing was my 6 year old daughter. She would love it!

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Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-3

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-4

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If you haven’t visited the exhibit yet, I highly recommend going. The walk-ins are welcome, and it’s totally free (beside the parking, of course). I wish I had more time to sit there comfortably and flip and read through all the books available inside.

But I had to deal with a serious case of very loud yawning every now and then, and even louder and more dramatic question “are we going now?” every 5 minutes.

Anyway, at least I was able to go through the huge book filled with Annie’s photographs. The experience of being able to touch it and be so close to her art was humbling.

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women: New Portraits

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-5

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-6

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-7

Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-8


Annie Leibovitz in San Francisco, Women- New Portraits-9

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-10
Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-12

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-13

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-14

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-15

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco-16

Palace of Fine Arts San Franscisco

How was your Monday?

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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Q: What do you call a business that isn’t run like a business? A: A hobby.

This is Day 6 of 15 Day Blog Challege and we are to talk in it about our Ideal Business Model. Natalie Sisson fro “The Suitcase Entrepreneur” says that we should run our business to support our style of living not the other way around. In my life it’s the other way around, so far. There is a whole lot of living and doing just to support my business. And I am not talking about myself but also about my husband who’s supported me financially when I needed it. And I needed it, believe me!!!

Lets be honest here. Running a business is tricky, especially when you start it not knowing that the part you want to do the most (like taking pictures in my case), is only a very small part of running a successful business.

For every successful establishment there is another that didn’t make it past the first five years, shows data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I have run a hobby for a long time while all I wanted was a profitable business which would support my lifestyle. I have fought my husband who would always say, “you’re running a hobby, not a business, be real about it”. Until I realized what he was saying is right. The realization didn’t come easily as it meant big changes. In photography business people are afraid of speaking about what’s behind their business in public, in front of the clients. They hide within photography forums and groups and over there they let the worst  frustrations out. Sometimes they direct the frustrations toward another professional, someone who’s cheaper, someone who is not as good in posing people as they do, someone who hasn’t been in business for as long as they are therefore he/she can be run into the ground for asking for an advice.

I have witnessed photographer after photographer being crushed by another peer, by somebody who should be looked up to for their knowledge and experience but they choose to be angry at the newcomers and therefore loose the credibility. Nobody wins in a such situations. People get hurt in both ends. I experienced it first handed. It hurt. Tremendously. It didn’t last long as I decided to cut off all the groups and forums where I saw it happening. I wrote about it in my last post.

It’s unprofessional to complain about our clients. Yes, I agree!

It’s unprofessional to talk about how hard it is and how many hours and sleepless nights we work and how much time we have to spend away from our families in order to earn some money. Yes, I agree. All small business owners do that. We are not any different. We do not work more (or less) then any other entrepreneur out there. Hell, all you full time working people do that.

The thing I don’t think it’s unprofessional is to share some (because not all) insights into photography business, and educate people about it.

There is this conviction that photographers are hobbyists and charging people an arm and a leg for their services is unacceptable.

I also think that artists don’t have to be starving in 21st century. Few days ago I saw this on Facebook, and I shook my head in understanding.


I’ve started writing this post yesterday during our road trip to see a potential home to buy. Yes, your read it right – it was a road trip because it’s way up North from San Jose. We can’t afford buying a home in Silicon Valley, and we are outgrowing our present place, so we are looking into different options.

I though and though about the way I want to write this post and if I really should write it the honest way, or simply list what would be the ideal model without going into anything else. As you can see I went for the most honest way.


A bridge you would have to cross to get to our place

A bridge you would have to cross to get to our “potential” place 🙂

IMG_9626 IMG_9628

Moving to a different city away from Silicon Valley might bring to us new possibilities. We will be able to achieve more for less. One of the houses we looked at had this wonderful first floor, which we both agreed, would be perfect for my small studio and an office.

Yes, I am dreaming about working space, and a small studio. Not because I particularly want to switch to studio photography, but because I want to have options, and because there is this more creative troll hiding inside me and wanting to have a studio for more personal and soul freeing use.

One part of my ideal business model is to have a studio. Another part of my ideal business is to be able to travel to photograph people. I know that the market is oversaturated with photographers so the possibility for someone from Texas (just because I’ve never been to TX and would love to visit there) wanting to hire me to do their family portraits is equal almost 0.09% (just because there is always hope, right?), and we all can dream.

But I can’t just sit and hope.

[ctt title=”If I want something to happen then I must do something towards it so the probability of the happening rises” tweet=”If I want something to happen then I must do something towards it so the probability of the happening rises” coverup=”2UqQ4″]. Got all philosophical here.

If I want to do stuff then I need to be able to afford it. To be able to afford it I have to earn more. To earn more I have to change my business model and charge more, or find a different job.


This is a view from our "potential" backyard

This is a view from our “potential” backyard

With my ideal business model I wish to be able to work with many non-profit organization donating my time and my work to a bigger cause. My dream is to be able to travel to other countries to be involved with helping people in need or supporting a cause I feel strong about. Just this year I got involve in working with CleanBirth.org, La Leche League South Bay and Alzheimer’s Association and would love to do more of it in the future.

My ideal business model is not a discount base business (although it started that way). If I run any specials they stay between me and my subscribers. Sign up while you can!

My ideal business model is based on families who come to me year after year after year.

My ideal business is based on trust and respect,  not on a “good deal” philosophy.

My ideal business is based on my professionalism and support.

My ideal business model is to run a business not a hobby.

Thank you for reading



P.S while we are at talking about trust and respect here is short “testimonial” like video of a returning clients of mine who are explaining why it is important to work with a photographer who knows the family and have work with the family in the past.

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12 Instagram communities for parents (and not only)

Today I am going to showcase 12 Instagram communities for parents (and not only).

If you started your Instagram account but it seems like nobody sees your pictures, nobody is liking them or commenting on them it’s probably because you’re not “hanging out” in the right places and because you’re not involved too much into liking and commenting yourself.

Also stop using very general hashtags like: #kids #food #children #fun #beautiful #family #etc 🙂 There are so many pictures under those hashtags that yours if not standing out with something super original then will be lost within seconds after posting it.

Find few communities and stick to them. Use their hashtags for relevant pictures you post and stay active in those communities. Don’t just post and go away. If you want to get more likes, start conversation under your picture you have to make the first move. Comment on photos of other people, spend some time going through the hashtags and like other people photos.

The communities I’m listing in this post are fun and family friendly accounts that focus on photographs of parenthood, children, food, fun and creative photographs of your everyday life.

Sometimes if your photo is interesting enough you might get your picture featured on their grid. That’s pretty great if you want to get more exposure to your account or if you want to gain more followers. At the same time following those accounts and using their hashtags will give you access to a great number of moms and dads who serve as great inspiration.

Some of the accounts have weekly or daily “challenges” / “themes” that you have to follow in order to get featured on their grid. But some have general hashtag that you can use every single time you post something on your Instagram account but it’s not related to the daily(weekly) theme.

The accounts I will mention here today are not only children related. They vary from food and life/home style to flowers and bugs and more.

Here we go:

1. Moms with cameras (https://instagram.com/momswithcameras/)

◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌ ●●●⇢ⓓⓐⓘⓛⓨ ⓣⓗⓔⓜⓔ⇠●●● ◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌ ✪WEEKEND FAVS. || #momswithcameras✪ ◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌ ✽ѕelecтed вy мod: @heidikesteloot Thank you @ewasamples for sharing your beautiful photo with @momswithcameras! Please be sure to show your support and visit their gallery. ◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌●◌ Please remember to tag #momswithcameras for a chance to be featured during today’s theme. ●⇢Please note, by tagging #momswithcameras you are giving permission for this page to feature your photos.

A photo posted by moms with cameras (@momswithcameras) on


2. Hiyapapayaphotoaday (https://instagram.com/hiyapapayaphotoaday/)

_______________________________________________ Today is a main tag day and anything goes as we highlight your images tagged to #hiyapapayaphotoaday. Please help us congratulate the following photographers on their great features: @ewasamples @rr_desh @minimalistchick @its_alwaysautumn ______________________________________________ Tag your photos with #hiyapapayaphotoaday for a chance to be featured! ______________________________________________ RULES : ?You may tag up to eight (8) old or new photos for each theme. ?Only tag photos that have NEVER been featured on @hiyapapayaphotoaday. Browse the hashtag to get ideas and inspiration and to support and encourage other artists! ______________________________________________ { Mod: @hiyapapayamom } ______________________________________________

A photo posted by BY @HIYAPAPAYAMOM (@hiyapapayaphotoaday) on

    3. Sunny picture challenge (https://instagram.com/sunnypicchallenge/)  


4. Shutter Sisters (https://instagram.com/shuttersisters/)

    5. The children of the world (https://instagram.com/thechildrenoftheworld/)


6. Snap-ish (https://instagram.com/snap_ish/)

    7. Our everyday moments    (https://instagram.com/our_everyday_moments/)

8. jj_nosquares (https://instagram.com/jj_nosquares/)

with this account is a part of @jjcommunity which you should follow as well and some of their other accounts:

  1. @jj_its_kids
  2. @jj_mobilephotography
  3. @jj_fromwhereistand
  4. @jj_blackwhite


9. All the differences (https://instagram.com/all_the_differences/)

10. Mom_Hub (https://instagram.com/mom_hub/)

  11. Nothingisordinary_ (https://instagram.com/nothingisordinary_/)

Repost from @nio_mod_riceandbeans, Hello NIO friends!! Today it’s another beautiful NIO day! As always, many possibilities , and many beautiful images are being showcasing on our main gallery today! Keep on tagging all your non themed shots to our main tag #nothingisordinary & #nothingisordinary_ for a chance to be featured ! Please say hello to our featured artists by visiting their galleries : —————————————— ——– TL @mecminun BL @formligen TR @hiyapapayaphotography BR @ewasamples ————————————————– – New and old pictures are allowed – Please tag your OWN photos that have NOT been previously featured -No more than 7 photos on our themed tags Collage by @nio_mod_riceandbeans aka @MsBrasil2000 ————————————————– A photo posted by Join us! Tag#nothingisordinary (@nothingisordinary_) on


12. My_365 (https://instagram.com/my_365/)

Last but not least. This community is where I started my adventure with Instagram and got to know most of my followers and the people I follow.


Instagram can be a fun way to connect with people, even make friends. For example a year ago I got to hang out with very talented and super creative @dodovo while visiting Orange County. I had never met her prior this trip. We only knew each other from Instagram and through our pictures. 


Anyway, if you are on Instagram don’t forget to follow me (@ewasamples) and say “Hi”.

Also, don’t forget to edit your photos before you post them anywhere. Here is my video with in which I show you how I edit my iPhone photo before I post it on Instagram:

if you’d like to chat about your session with me, please email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com 
also, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter and in return get on an exclusive list of mini-sessions, and model calls. 

Your camera doesn’t give you vision {Family Portrait Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Last weekend I was babysitting for a friend. During those two days I had a chance try my luck on a longboard. Something I had always wanted to try but never really had the opportunity to do. It was fun and painful (at some point). 😉



During that time I also had great time reading a review draft of a book written by a photographer S. Dirk Schafer. I got quite the chuckle out of it. It’s filled with great quotes about photography, photographers, art, passion and the author thoughts and short stories about photography, his career, his experience as a photographer. From the fist page to the last this book is filled with witty humor. On that note, I want to keep this post as a humorous one, as well, although I will mention one quote in here I found in the book:

The camera is a piece of s***… Nikon doesn’t give you vision. Canon doesn’t give you vision… That’s your job.

Zack Arias

A camera is an amazing thing, but it needs something else then a fast lens to be a powerful tool. You can learn how to take better pictures with iPhone by stopping the mindless “snapping”. Get inspired by what you see around you, in your life and in social media.

If you short on ideas, try to recreate something at first. The more you do it, the better you’ll get in creating your own, unique images.

Often many of us forget about it. We blindly pursue equipment that’s the most innovative, the most expensive, recently updated, you name it. We think, after we get the fastest lens our pictures immediately will get better. While that might be true in a technical point of view it has nothing to do with the vision you have for the picture. If I didn’t have my vision for my style and the way I want to create a certain portrait my super duper Nikon D800 would not help me with that even if I begged it.

I also think that in the world of “snapping” many people have lost themselves in just “capturing” everything and anything without stopping and taking the time to look at the whole picture and try to make an art out of it, look at the situation with a vision…


the-best-camera-is-the-one-thats-with-you-ewa-samples-photography the-best-camera-is-the-one-you-have-with-you-ewa-samples-photography


I am guilty of all of that myself. I often catch myself longing for new equipment thinking it might help me with something. But with what, I ask myself. How much sharper I want my pictures to be? Do I really want to join the rat race where all photographers point at each others’ pictures saying this is “too soft”, this is “out of focus”, etc. Really? No. I don’t think I want that nor I need that. What I need and want is to have more time to craft my vision and the iPhone camera is pretty helpful with that lately, implementing the truth in the saying: “the best camera is the one you have with you”.

If you’d like to chat about your session with me, please email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com 
Also, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter and in return get on an exclusive list of mini-sessions, and model calls. 

Hope to hear from you soon, 
Ewa, your Family Photographer

5 steps to take better pictures with your phone

Today I will give you several simple advices on how to produce better photos using your phone only. I am going to give you names of editing apps I’m using and which I think, are one of the best out there (would love to hear more names if you’re using anything else and can recommend it), and will try to give you some ideas about how to take your phone pictures to another level. After reading this post, I hope you will be able to improve your phone photography for whatever purposes you’re using it right now.

For years, I’d dragged my DSLR with me, wherever I went. Shooting ladybugs, sunsets, or my kids and then posting it to any social media was a time consuming process. And I couldn’t do it till I got home, threw it on my computer, edited it. Sometimes it took me up to a week (from the time the photos were taken) to post them online or share with my family overseas. When I got my first iPhone I was as happy as a little kid who got the dream toy.

From that day taking photos of random things, of my entire life and the way I see it has gotten so much easier!

The same day I created Instagram account and started trashing my Facebook friends feed with all kinds of pictures on daily basics, and in real time of the event happening. The coolest thing ever. 😉

I was using Instagram filters on every single picture because I though they are cool and make my photos more artistic, but that didn’t last long, as very quickly I’d realized they are not so cool, and they don’t add any artistic value to my photos 😉 Simple.

So I invested some time into researching good editing apps. The few I’ve found have given me some great tools to boost my creativity.

Having a good phone doesn’t mean that you will be able to take good photos; Like owning a DSLR doesn’t make you a professional photographer. The whole process needs a little more than that. So if you want to get more likes and comments on your Facebook photos or more followers on Instagram, or simply get better photos for your scrapbooking projects, try to implement those easy steps.

Step 1. Know your phone’s camera abilities and options ( AND GIVE THEM A TRY. NOT ONCE OR TWICE, BUT UNTIL YOU GET IT)

For example, for a long time I’d known I had the option to take panoramic photos. I tried it once, and it didn’t work well for me. So I simply didn’t give this option a second chance and did not use it for almost a year, until very recently, when I joined my husband on an ant hunting field trip, and sometime in the middle of it I got soooo bored I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I started taking panoramic photos. AND I LOVED IT!!! This option is so cool, and it can add such an interesting twist to your photos!

I don’t have the option but on most of the newest updates and phone models you can make time laps videos (check some great examples here). If you have it you should definitely check it out.

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As we know, to post to Instagram you need square photos, or additional software that will fit your not square photos into a square without loosing any details from the original photo. Check out my Instagram to see what I’m talking about.

Also remember that there is an option to shot landscape/portrait or square photos on your phone. If you want to post photos straight to Instagram then you have the option to shoot square photos and don’t have to deal with having to adjust the photo in Instagram. I used to do that for a long time. I simply was taking a square photos, and it made my Instagramming experience more pleasurable, faster and less frustrating.

Another very handy thing is to know that by tapping the screen with your finger during taking photos will automatically adjust the brightness of the photo to the object you’re tapping into. Here are examples:

I tapped on the sky to my daughter’s left, and the camera automatically made the picture dark, adjusting the exposure so the sky is nice and visible.

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The next photo was taken within the same minute, in the same spot, I just tapped on one of my kids. Both photos are not edited in any other way. They are straight from my phone.

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The first method, tapping on a sky or on any very bright space in the picture allows you to take silhouettes. It’s a good trick to know.

Step 2. Invest (time and few cents), into good editing apps

Simply forget about Instagram filters or any filters in that matter. Try to implement your own style into each photo you take by editing them yourself, the way you want them to look. Take control over the entire creating process. Sometimes it takes some time to figure it out, but all the photo editing apps are super easy and intuitive to use. Most editing apps come with basic filters (you can always purchase more), and those filters are better from what Instagram offers, but still try to use the manual editing options: brightness, contrast, temperature, sharpness, etc.

After more then a year of using free editing apps and constantly changing them because they didn’t have what I really needed, I finally found what I was looking for:

1. Afterlight – this is the main app I use for all my photos. I got it for $0.99 and it came with a set of frames, basic textures and filters. You can get more options within each set but I really don’t recommend buying more filters. The textures are pretty handy and the frames can add an extra twist to your photos, as well as one of the frames automatically adjust your landscape/portrait/panoramic photo so it fits into a square without having to crop it.

Since I started using Instagram I never really liked the square thing. I tried several apps that would help me to fit my original photo size (or close to the original, as all my photos are cropped to 7×5), into a square. Many of them while having this feature didn’t have all the other options the Afterlight has, and I had to use up to 4 apps to get the final result. How frustrating. Now I use 1 and I’m done 🙂

Here is a screen shot of my Instagram feed in which I use this option on almost every single photo I post.

Instagram Feed

2. Studio Design – this app will take your photos to a different level. It will let you create beautiful designs using your photos and mixing them with interesting and easy to use graphics. You can create something from scratch or simply use templates based on the topics like: #nature, #quotes, #selfie, #summer, #outdoors, and more. You can change the font, you can change the font color or opacity. You can adjust it’s size, add interesting lines, frames, shapes, text… You set your own limits with this app.

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pictures created with studio design

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3. Snapseed – I have it. I rarely use it. I use it so-not-often that when recently asked by a friend who is a photographer herself, if I’ve ever used snapseed, I answered: I have no idea what that is… Funny, HAHA. So, yes, it is a great app that has most of the things Afterlight has. It has more, or I should say different kind/style of textures, and some different editing options. It is not as intuitive to use as the other app, though, and that makes it not as attractive, but it’s free 🙂

Step 3. Learn basic editing (and stop using filters)

Yes, editing phone photos is easy, and it doesn’t require very complicated softwares, years of practicing and learning new techniques, or any complicated knowledge about composition and light. Of course it helps to know something, but in the age of digital photos it’s not a big deal if we take hundreds of photos that suck just to get the one worth sharing. It doesn’t cost you anything, and you can do it anywhere and at anytime.

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Step 4. Don’t stop with the first (and only), picture you take

I am never happy with my first picture I take. I snap one, then I look at it, and then think of a different picture of the same thing, just from a different perspective, using the light in a different way, moving the object in a different position, etc. Try to do the same. Don’t just snap and walk away. Don’t just take blurry photos of your kids and then be unhappy that nobody follows you on Instagram or like your picture on Facebook. Don’t say, you can’t do it or don’t know how to do it, because now you know, so get out there and put all the things you’ve read here into practice.

This is an excellent example of how many photos I took of this ladybug just to post one single photo on Instagram and Facebook. And this is just a very small example of how many pictures I took of her.

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This is the one I decided to go with:

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Flash does bad things to your photos. Forget about it. Turn it off. Turn it off!!! Act like it doesn’t exist. Remember about tapping the screen on your phone in order to adjust the brightness? Well, this simply can do the trick in low light situations. Flash will take the depth from your photo. Turn your low light photos into black and white. They will be beautiful and artistic.

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photos created with Studio_1

Now go out there and try it yourself!



If you’d like to schedule a session with me, please email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com 
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Hope to hear from you soon, 
Ewa, your Family Photographer

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