Photography Tips

Photography tips for everybody

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 start creating professional photos for your website and social media!

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.

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

So, if creating engaging visual content for your social media and website is very important to you 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.

In this article, I’m going to talk about all the things you should think about before you push the “snap” button. Yes, rules are meant to be broken. But you can’t break them if you don’t know what they are.

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 that THEY MADE from SCRATCH. But not everybody can create a cake the way Cake Boss can do it.

To make a dish that’s high up in ranks the ingredients, the process, and the person who makes it must be in perfect harmony, 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.

In this post, I’m going to tell you how to become more like Cake Boss and less of a person who buys a cake mix and calls it good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying going with the cake mix is 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!

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

Recipe for creating interesting, and a standing out image for your social media and website:

 

  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 your potential viewers and think, “oh wow, I want to know more.”

    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 will it 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 your family tonight you don’t just throw random stuff on a pan and think: “I hope that tastes good”. Well, let’s be honest, that happened to me a few times, but because I am comfortable in the kitchen nobody died or got food poisoning.

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

    All the great ideas in this world, all the great gadgets, all technology… all that once was just a vision in somebody’s head. 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.

    But can you repeat it if it happened again? Do you know how and why this happened in the first place, so when a situation like this happens again you’re ready and know what to do?

    ONE THING YOU CAN START DOING RIGHT AWAY TO PRACTICE WORKING AROUND YOUR 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 took 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.

    There are things I can teach you but the rest is up to you. 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 SIMPLY EVERYWHERE! The same is with light in photography. You need to go out there and shoot.

    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.

    professional photos for social media _ ewa samples photography

    However, taking a picture of a pretty flower in the full harsh sun might bring beautiful colors out and you will be able to capture the texture 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 for a newbie. 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.

    THING YOU CAN START DOING TO PRACTICE CREATING VISUALLY PLEASING IMAGES WHILE USING THE LIGHT CORRECTLY: 

     

    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. 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:

     – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE OF HAZY MORNING AND LATE AFTERNOON LIGHT versus HARSH AND FULL OF SHADOWS MID-DAYLIGHT.

     – TURN OFF YOUR FLASH, AND NEVER USE IT AGAIN,

    – USE NATURAL LIGHT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE (night photography could be an exception to that)

    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. When working with kids asking them to jump, dance or twirl always works.

    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

    THINGS YOU CAN START DOING TO PRACTICE CREATING ACTION IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS:

    – 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.

  5. COMPOSE YOUR IMAGE LIKE YOU’D DO IF IT WAS A SONG or A POEM

     

    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.

    ONE THING YOU CAN START DOING TO PRACTICE BETTER COMPOSITION WITH THE HELP OF GRID:

    – 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 that give it the soul?

    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, because 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. 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.

We don’t live in a Matrix when we can learn any skill in a matter of inserting new programming into our brain. Learning a new skill takes time. It takes even more time to learn something that’s absolutely outside of your comfort zone. For example, 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.

 

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! 

How to rock back to school pictures {Morgan Hill and San Jose Family Photographer}

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!)

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

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!

how to rock back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

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.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

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.

back to school pictures, morgan hill family photographer

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.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

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. 

 

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

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??!?!?!

back to school pictures, san jose family photographe

 

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.

back to school pictures, san jose family photographer

 

6. “I can’t take good pictures.”

Well, that’s what professional photographers are for. Just saying. 😜

 

Cheers, 

Ewa

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!

 

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:

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.

 

 

PARENTS,

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

What is the best season for family pictures

Today I’d like to talk about something very important when it comes to planning your session. I feel like often people think the best season for family pictures is Fall. In this post I’ll show you how particular locations change with seasons.

How to plan your photo session based on the knowledge about the seasonal changes in nature (photo locations) in our area. 

In California, the Spring starts early. When most of the country experiences their first blooms, our blooming trees are already in the next phase. Most of the country has longer lasting green grass. We start to loose it around May. Our grass turns brown pretty early. When it comes to Fall, it also doesn’t last long.  The rain starts, and it’s hard to plan anything if you’re not willing to have fun in the rain, or your kids are too small for getting a little wet.

So, what is the best season for family pictures?

(This post is my personal opinion) 

best season for family pictures_ewa samples photography_san jose

The same location. The same spot. A tad different angle.

1. Locations look the best in Spring. (in my humble opinion)

In my opinion it’s Spring, which means right now. We are actually getting close to the blooming season. So, if you’d like session in beautiful orchards you better contact your favorite photographer and ask him/her to squeeze you for a session within the next 3 weeks.

Often, people don’t want to do their sessions in Spring because they think it’s too early in the year, and they want to wait. However, later in the year, it’s hard to find lush green hills and fields. The only green places are public parks, surrounded by suburban homes, and play structures, and crowded with people. With all that it’s hard to get beautiful images with nothing distracting in the background, without a heavy photoshop work (which in my case, and the case of other photographers costs extra).

As a professional I do know locations that have blooms all year long, or green grass for that matter. There isn’t many of those and they are most likely filled with other families and their photographers, which is not always the most relaxing and pleasant experience. 

2. The weather is gorgeous in Spring.

In Spring the sunset is around 7 pm (before the daylight savings time it’s 6 pm and earlier), so if you have small kids who have an early “nigh nigh” schedule, the current season is the way to go.

It’s getting warm enough for lighter clothes. Still, not overwhelming hot for kids and parents, or grandparents.

3. Your favorite photographer is not crazy busy in Spring.

You might not know, but most photographers (as well as other business owners), call the time after Christmas a dry season.

 People go on vacation.

People are recovering from all the Christmas expenses.

People think it’s too cold or there isn’t any good place to take photos in February (WRONG!)

Whatever the reason, choosing a session in February, March or April means you will have more dates to choose from (that’s my guess, of course, based on my own business).

The later in the year, the more busy photography business becomes. Fall is the worst! Often you will have to work around the photographer’s busy schedule not the other way around.

4. The late morning or mid-day sessions have prettier results (Spring vs Summer).

Knowing how hard it is to work around the schedule of my clients’ Little Ones, I am always available to do sessions in mid-day. Many photographers don’t do that because they do not work with mid-day light. (won’t go into the reasons, as each photographer has different).

Of course, the results of a late morning or mid-day sessions are different from sunset sessions (so called golden hour sessions). But because the sun is not so overwhelming and often the sky is covered with clouds in Spring, the mid-day sessions seems to be very pretty. (in my opinion!)

5. Occasional rain means you have to be ready to be spontaneous with the date of your session. 

If you’re one of those people who have to have everything planned 2 months ahead, session in Spring might not be the best way to go. Since we’re still getting some rain now and then, scheduled dates are never certain. As much as doing sessions in the rain is adventurous and fun, I know that not everybody enjoys it as much as I do.

Here is a visual calendar for whole year of locations

January – Rain, and cold (mostly in home sessions)

That doesn’t mean they have to be gloomy and boring 😉

 

San Jose Kids Portrait Photographer inspired by Gregory Heisler-7

san jose kids photographer colorful and fun studio

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Spring

February 

best season for family pictures

 

 

March:

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If you lucky and ready to get up and run for the session as soon as you get my text, you will be able to have session in the blooming orchards with second bloom of mustard flowers – that doesn’t happen often and when it does it lasts for a very short time

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April

Mommy and me _ family photographer san jose

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Same location as the mustard flowers with my Little One dancing in the picture

 

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Early April (same location as the examples from Fall)

 

and the same tree several moths later:

Let’s go back to March/April

Late April, the same location as the yellow mustard flowers!!!

May

mommy and me sessions in san jose-1

B-day photo shoot san jose ewa samples photography

 

Summer

June / July / August

kids photographer gilroy

This is the same location as the Mother’s Day photo shoot with the heart on the tree (Mom and two daughters) – exactly the same hill just a different angle

Fall

September / October

golden hour maternity session san jose ewa samples photography-21

This is the same location as the Mother’s Day photo shoot with the heart on the tree (Mom and two daughters) – exactly the same hill just different angle

 

Exactly the same location as the maternity shoot above, just two weeks later

 

Same location as the photo above

Kids Photographer San Jose

Occasional Rain

 

Winter

November / December

stanford family portrait photographer, ewa samples photography

fun kids pictures in the rain san jose california

 

Now, most of the locations I’ve shown you in this post are secluded from public and crowds. I do like, and always highly recommend picking locations that don’t have anything that would distract kids (like the playground). If your goal is to have SUPER LIFESTYLE session with playtime documented, then the playground is definitely okey.

As one of my clients pointed out to me when I told her about the idea of this post, I was able to find a lush, green location for her in July. However, this was a public park, and during our session, we had people with their kids approaching us to play with our bubbles until we had to tell them to stop doing it.

best season for family session

 

So, this is why I try to avoid public parks as often as I can. With suburban homes and bathrooms and playground structures, it’s pretty hard to create a beautiful image without distracting things in the background.

This is why I spend countless hours on locations scouting. This is why I carefully pick my locations I recommend to my clients.

In my opinion best season for family pictures is Spring. As you might have noticed scrolling through the Spring locations provided in this post, the possibilities are amazing, colorful, and so vibrant. However, I know that each season has it’s own unique beauty.

The important thing is to be aware of what you want and what you like. It is also very important to communicate to your photographer the vision you have for your session. During all the years of my work I’ve found out that people who clearly state what they want, what is their vision for the session are more likely to be very happy with what I create for them.

If you like me, and see beauty in each season. I have the right solution for you:

Sign up for my membership and get access to up to 4 mini-sessions (or 2 full sessions) within 12 months from signing up:

 

 

FOR LUSH AND GREEN SESSION sign up for

The location is just gorgeous right now. Check it out here!!

If you still don’t believe me, go to my FB and check out the last several sneak-peeks from my very recent sessions. It just couldn’t be any greener. The sessions right now, are simply stunning! FUN for the kids, because they can run barefoot! Roll in the grass. With the light being so gorgeous in Spring, it really doesn’t what time of the day you have your session done.

 

If you’d like to receive special offers, interesting blog posts, youtube tutorials straight to your email, feel free to sign to my newsletter. And let’s chat about your dream session:

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Don’t be a copycat! BE YOU!

I’m so excited for February. Starting tomorrow, my website as well as Facebook page will be filled up with YELLOW. Well, I’ll try to mix it up with new recipes for Cinnamon Rolls, just to add some variety 😉

Yesterday, my older daughter had Day off school so we went around the corner to our local orchards to play, dance, catch ladybugs, and what’s most important for this mama, test and practice shooting with my new lens.

This vintage, Russian beauty was made in the 70ties, and it’s quite the weight.

ewa_samples_photography

I have another lens from this brand, and those lenses are one of the most amazing lenses ever produced. I’m on a hunt for 2 more, different brands, but they can wait. These days I’m patiently waiting for a package containing something “oh and ah”, also from Ukraine.

Most of the photographs presented in this post are barely edited. I’m not kidding. A few are straight from the camera, with the watermark added on them, only.

They were shot at 1.5 or 2 aperture, so pretty wide open, in full blast sun. I think this lens is a piece of art, and I can honestly admit, that Russians knew what they are doing while creating those lenses.

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

Mustard Fields in San Jose

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While I’m pretty comfortable with shooting the 58mm, I still need to figure out the 85mm. I’m also not thrilled with the lens flare this lens produces. The 58mm is magical: when you turn it into the sun, it make the most beautiful and magical flare. The picture below is an example. The flare here is small, but still, beautiful.

lifestyle_newborn_photographer_los_alto_cupertino_ewa_samples_photography_1

The 85mm takes more adjusting to make the flare nice, and require more gymnastics from the person behind the camera. And still, most of the time, the picture is not usable without a major PS editing skills. Which in my dictionary means “you are going to the trash, bye bye”.

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Most of the time it makes a big orange/red spot on the picture, pretty hard not to notice. Especially if it’s in the middle of the subject’s head.

shooting with helios

Anyway, my message to everybody is to do what their little hearts desire instead doing what everybody else is doing. While other people run for their dear life to produce the most sharp and clear pictures using the most newer cameras and lenses, I simply go the other way. I went back to year 2000, and connected with a lens that I loved dearly when I was in high school and college. Discovering that I can use it on my DSLR was like a rebirth of Pheonix. Just watch my rise! 😉 LOL

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Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

Don't be a copycat! BE YOU!

There is no right or wrong way to do things. Especially in photography. So many people simply forget that photography could (SHOULD) be an art. While there is so much anger and competition, and frustration among photographers, we can make a conscious decision to not be a part of it.

Photography used to be about HOW THE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE the world. Today, it has change into, HOW ONE PHOTOGRAPHER SEE THE WORLD, and the rest follow, with the same style of editing, the same equipment, the same ideas for clients wardrobe and posing…

Don’t be a Copycat. Be YOU!

Ewa

P.S Do you have any unique things you like to do or use in life?

Leave a comment or like my page on Facebook. 

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How to find the best photographer for your family {Lifestyle Family Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Today’s post is about how you should approach finding a family photographer to whom you will be coming back year after year instead of trying new one every single time you decide to get your family pictures. Even better, how to avoid a situation in which after one (and maybe your first ever) session, you’re so disappointed you decide not to do it ever again.

A little research and understanding of why it is important to have a trustworthy family photographer will make your Holiday season way more pleasant (year after year after year). Lets start with this short video of my returning clients speaking about the pros of having a photographer who knows your family your needs and your expectations. I couldn’t have explained it better:

A photographer is not just a random picture taker. He or she is someone that captures some of the most memorable events and fleeting moments of your life. This is when the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” really matters. That first impression could be the only impression that is made. Among the professional photographers, today’s market is filled with amateurs, quasi-professionals, and hobbyists; that doesn’t imply that they are bad. What it does mean though, is that you have a sea of choices out there, and you might get lost or confused in trying to make a selection. When it comes to finding a photographer, there is a perfect match for everyone, you just have to do more work to find the one that best suits you.

1. START EARLY

If you are thinking about having Christmas photos taken this year, start looking for the right photographer as soon as possible. By October all the good photographers will be booked, and you will be left with whatever is available on the market, not necessarily the one whose style or services you appreciate. If you go with that “first available” then it might cause a snowball effect. Your experience might suck, you might not like the pictures, your spouse is not happy that you had to spend all that money for nothing, and the conclusion to that might be “we are not doing it ever again”. Start early and you will be able to book the one photographer your really like, and whose work you admire.

2. ASK YOUR FRIENDS AND RELATIVES

In today’s world almost every family has had at least one professional photography session. If they haven’t, I can assure you, they know at least one friend who has. Ask them about their experiences with the  photographer, service, and final product. Ask them if they are happy with the photographer, if they will be using him/her again. What was good and if anything, what was bad. Sometimes your friend’s preferences regardless style and overall feeling might differ from yours. Photographer who was not the best fit for them might be the perfect one for you. That’s why it is important to gather some names and move to step 3 (“look through the photographers websites”).

3. CHECK THOROUGHLY THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S WEBSITE

After you get few names from your relatives or friends next step is to go to those photographers websites. I think, it today’s world every professional should have a website. Facebook won’t do it. Facebook is for people who take pictures as a hobby and for people who are still building their portfolio and are not quite in the business. They might be considering going pro but they are still not there. The decision is yours. You have to ask yourself what your needs are. What is it that you envision for your session. Are you ok with going with a starting photographer? You have to remember that all the photographers started somewhere with people who trusted them at the very beginning… They didn’t just enter the market with stunning portfolio and amazing skills of posing or entertaining people during the session. If you want to trust such person then you have to know that thanks to you that person has the opportunity to grow and learn.

Ask yourself what kind of session you want to have. Do you want it to be very charming and glamorous with huge amount of props and sparkles?

Do you want it wild and lifestyle? You want to let the photographer in to your home for several hours and let him/her simply snap away whatever is going on during your regular day. I think, that’s a very neat idea, and I know several local photographers who are awesome doing those kind of sessions.

Or maybe you’re interested strictly studio portraits of your family. You don’t want to deal with getting dirty in the woods or park, you don’t want to run around with your kids and be silly. It’s simply not you.

The website is your first step to get to know the photographer. Read a little about him or her, get to know her style and get the feeling about the person behind the lens.

If during your session you want many funny props to be involved, and all what you see on a particular photographer’s website is all natural and candid portriats with no props whatsoever then do not expect that this photographer will be passionate about working around your vision for family session.

4. COMMUNICATE

Yes! Communicate your needs, your expectations and even your worries with the photographer. In my book the only wrong question is the one not asked.

If you have worries about your kids not cooperating, express them. If you don’t know how to dress or what to bring to the session. Ask! If you don’t like certain activities, like kissing in front of other people (in this case a photographer) say it, so they will not try to force you to do it during the session. 😉

Make a list of what kind of pictures you mostly want to get from the session: the whole family, kids only, maybe one shot with the kids and the dad. Mix of everything. The more you communicate with the photographer the better chance is you will have an amazing session with photographs you love.

5. DON’T BASE YOUR CHOICE ON THE PRICE ONLY

Yes, price is important, and you want to know what you’ll get and for how much before you decide on the photographer. You need to know all your options the photographer can offer you. There are photographers who are in a process of building their portfolio therefore they photograph people for very little. There are established photographers who have been leading the market place and they will provide you with top-notch services and products for quite bit more then the starting photographers 🙂 The decision is yours. Do you care about the quality of services and products you want to get out of the session or the quantity. Think about all different services the market offers you and which one would suit your needs best. It shouldn’t be an overnight decision. Take your time.

Conclusion:

Choosing a photographer shouldn’t be an overnight decision. Start looking for a photographer way ahead so you have the time to do the proper research and the time to get to know the photographer you’ll choose at the end. Find someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing your wishes and ideas. Choose a photographer which style of working you like and whose photographs you admire. Exchange as many emails as you want. If your desire is to meet the photographer in person before the session, he/she should be willing to meet you without hesitation. Most likely paying a higher price equals a higher quality product and services and sometimes you simply have to save up for it. If that’s not possible, look for a different photographer, but not just any photographer who’s cheaper. Pick someone who will take pictures of your family worth hanging on your walls, not hiding in the drawer. Overall, [ctt title=”it\’s better to pay more for fewer pictures where you love each and every one, rather than to pay less, but get a disc full of photographs you don’t really like. ” tweet=”it’s best to pay more for less pictures where you love all of them,than to pay less for a disc full of photographs you don’t like ” coverup=”ZPwc5″]

Remember, if you invest some time in researching the market, you will find the right photographer for your family, and you will not have to do it again, because most likely

you have found a photographer for life.

Ewa,

Your Family Photographer

Ewa, Your Family Photographer

Pleaser share this post with your family and friends if you found it helpful. Stop by my Facebook Page and say Hi. Feel free to comment with your experience finding the perfect family photographer. Have you been able to achieve it or you are still looking?

If you want to talk more about your ideas for family session then shoot me an email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com  

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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. 

How to look beautiful, comfortable and confident during a family photo session

In my opinion, there are as many ideas of how to dress for a family session, as many family photographers are out there.

I’m ok with using patterns while some photographers try to discourage from doing so. I’m ok with mismatching and not coordinating although I know, that many photographers have different opinion about it. And that’s ok!

I love scarfs, shawls, hats, and always encourage my clients to bring those accessories to the session, while other photographers would encourage you to have clean and simple style without any distractions from you as the main subject. That mostly happens with studio photography.

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The common question

We all have our own styles and we want our clients to dress the way we like our brand to be portrayed. Elegant, funky, colorful, vintage. If someones style is vintage and elegant they will guide you to dress accordingly to their brand’s style.

One of the most common asked questions before the session is: “What do you want us to wear?

– “Wear whatever you’d like” said no photographer ever. We always try to give a small hints and advice of not to wear, what colors to avoid, etc.

I do try to encourage families to pick clothes that would make them feel comfortable and confident. I also always say,

“wear something that’s YOU”

If you’re planning to do a glamour sessions, or to update your social media profile photos session, then that’s a different story, and I will want to talk about that, also by inviting local photographers who specialize in that kind of photography for short interviews. Will be posting the interviews here.

How to look confident and comfortable during family session, san jose family photographer

Sometimes feeling comfortable is not enough

On the picture above I’m wearing cloths that are comfortable and make me look/feel confident. That day I also let my kids to dress themselves. This is us and I adore the picture simply because our dog (who is old and very sick) was with us and the main reason for this picture (and few more) was to photograph the four of us together. I didn’t really care for festive clothes, because it wasn’t the look I was going for here, it was the memory.

You don’t want to look at your family portraits and wish you were wearing something different. That spoils the whole experience.

There isn’t a worse thing, then spent great amount of money on outfits for the whole family and then right before the session find out then the kids don’t want to wear it because it’s something new and probably not comfortable, or something that they don’t really like but it was picked because you wanted to match it to your dress or dad’s outfit. It also isn’t fun when during the session you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing; When it doesn’t feel like it’s YOU.

In a perfect world you should feel 100% confident with 100% beautiful, and 100% comfortable. Is this really possible to achieve? Probably, but I think trying to reach a healthy balance among those 3 is the best indicator to start from. There are always things that won’t be 100% the way you want it. There is always not enough time for the perfect make-up because dressing the kids took way longer than you had expected. Let me know if I’m wrong but I think that most of today’s moms feel the most comfortable in yoga pants and t-shirts so asking them to wear something beautiful, festive, and at the same time comfortable feels like something very contradictory. right? 😉
But still I always say that anyway, knowing that many of my moms will come to the session wearing jeans. Am I upset about it? Not at all, as much as you shouldn’t be if you choose to dress that way. Just don’t forget to thrown some extra jewelry, and a colorful scarf and you’ll be looking good!

Here is a photo that hangs on my wall as a canvas:

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My kids wearing my scarfs (what they simply LOVE to do), one of them wearing her shoes on the wrong feet (at that time she wouldn’t let me help her with putting them, she wanted to do it “by myself”). Kissy and huggy in a new, unique place. THAT’S US!

It was us during one of our “adventures” while location scouting. The photo tells a story to me, and it’s way more US then the photograph with me in a black dress (last picture in this post)

The less you have to spend on your outfits the more you can invest into your post session products

Dressing nice to a session doesn’t have to mean spending extra $500 on outfits. There are ways to coordinate outfits for the entire family just using the clothes you have in your closet. You just need to know what to look for. If your friend has a dress that you really like, and it’s your size, and she doesn’t mind you using it, well, what’s the problem in borrowing it? There are many ways and resources, and I will try to help you to find out what would work the best for you in this matter.

As an example, here is a dress my mom used the wear when she was a young woman. I inherited it when 15 years ago she decided to clean her closet and this was one item she wanted to get rid of. This dress is unique, and I love unique! If you have a treasure like that in your closet, bring in with you! I WOULD LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH YOU IN IT!!!

How to look beautiful, comfortable and confident during family session

How to look beautiful, comfortable and confident during family session

Color matters

If you want to make the session fun and colorful and if you’re a family who really cares about details then there are websites out there which can help you with picking the right color palettes for the entire family.  Here is a websites with ready color combo palettes and schemes. Just find your favorite and try to coordinate your family outfits accordingly to one of the pallets. It’s a really great website if you dig deeper into it. Here is another website where you can have more fun with experimenting with the colors. This website let you see what are the complementary colors in case if you’re one of the bravest and would want to dress your family in those colors.

For the picture below my kids wanted to wear tutus, and you know, when a kid wants something, the kid gets it just for the sake of a good picture in the process 😉 With all the color going on them, I simply tried to stay neutral.

How to look confident and comfortable during family session

Pastel colors work best for photographs. I always encourage people to avoid red, white, black, and bright yellow. Small accessories like shawls, jewelry, sweaters, jackets, hat, etc., make a big difference in the picture. If you normally don’t wear any make up, I would recommend to add some blush and mascara to your overall look for the purpose of the session.

With whatever you decide to go, don’t over do it. Don’t reach the point where you don’t feel like yourself anymore.

Ewa

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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

 

 

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How to do a cake smash session {Cake Smash Photographer, San Jose, CA}

This post is for professional photographers as well as for parents who consider hiring/doing 1st b-day cake smash for their little one. In a few simple steps I will tell you how to do a cake smash session, and succeed with it.

Cake smash is not about posing, it’s not about the right outfit, or the perfect location. It is about fun and mess, and celebration of your little one turning ONE! It is one-of-a-kind session, and I highly recommend doing it with your kids.

I won’t lie to you.

Cake smash sessions are not the most complex and hard to do. They are super fun, and they can be done in a comfort of your own home. No matter if you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, theses few simple tricks will help you to get the best out of this session.

If you’re prepared the right way, they are not even that messy. If you’re hiring a photographer, it is good if he/she can come to your home, so you’re close to the bathtub after the session is done.

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1. The best time to do the cake smash session.

DEFINITELY MORNING, right before breakfast.

It is good to feed you lil one a very small meal before the session. The more hungry the baby is the more likely he/she is to dig into the cake! Also sleepy and cranky babies equal disaster, no matter what activity we are trying to do with them. Our little ones go through stages of up and downs during the day. It is the best thing to pick the right time. If your baby is most likely to be happy after his afternoon nap then do the session at that time.

2. The cake.

CAKE IS IMPORTANT, but don’t let it to take away from the whole experience. Don’t forget that it’s your little one who is in the focus not the cake.

If the cake is too sweet, it’s guaranteed the baby will not want to eat it. Most store-bought cakes are too sweet for such small kids to enjoy it.

Also the frosting should be soft so the baby is encouraged to dig deeper. The softer the better.

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3. Decorations

Cake smash session can be done anywhere. Studio, your home, your back yard, public park. I like simple decorations that you can get at any party supplies store or etsy. Color coordinated set up is recommended. You can use you wall as a background, and get a plexiglass sheet from a store for the floor, or vinyl flooring from Home Depot. If you already have a hard wood floor then non of these are necessary.

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4. Team work

No matter if you’re hiring a professional or doing it yourself, cake smash is a team work. One is taking pictures while all the participants try to encourage the baby to eat the cake or encourage him to smile.

Often the baby will burst into tears or simply will want to leave the scene without even trying the cake. Do not give up. Try to encourage him/her to have a bite. Cut it for him/her if necessary. Engage into a game of digging in. In the past I had a baby who didn’t want to touch the cake, but was ok with digging in with a fork. Get creative with it.

You must know that situation is new to your baby, and he/she needs some help to understand it.

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5. Don’t hesitate to use tricks

Remember, during cake smash session your baby is put into a totally new situation. Not only he/she is presented with a overpowering flavor of sugar, sugar, sugar, he/she also is not sure if all of the sudden he is allow to get so dirty and messy and just go for it. Let encourage the baby to eat the cake by sneaking a favorite food into the cake, for example, small pieces of banana 🙂

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6. Bathtub

Cake smash without sweet bathtub photos is not a complete session. Don’t forget to finish your session with some water and bubble bath 🙂 Make it playful and relaxing, your baby worked hard for this.

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If you’d like to schedule a 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

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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.

how to improve your phone pictures

This is the one I decided to go with:

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Step 5. TURN OFF THE FLASH, PLEEEEASEEE!

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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Step 6. BONUS STEP

photos created with Studio_1

Now go out there and try it yourself!

 

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If you’d like to schedule a 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

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