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Paws for Purple Hearts Puppy Petting || Menlo Park Photographer

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

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

Paws for Purple Hearts, Canine-Assisted Warrior Therapy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe I’ll see you there next time.

Time to schedule your Fall Family Portraits.

Have you scheduled your Fall Family Portraits, yet?

This week’s pictures will be all about showing you that the Fall is already here, and if you haven’t taken care of booking your family session for Christmas cards or your annual family portraits update, you might be running out of time!

Fall Family Portraits - Anderson Lake September _ Ewa Samples Photography Morgan Hill

For example, my September weekend dates are sold out. October is also filling up, as well. However, weekdays are still pretty open and I do have a sweet discount for weekday sessions… (just sayin… )

I bet, many photographers are on the same boat right now, so if you think, you’d like to grab the good ones in the market, you should probably hurry.

Last weekend I went with my kids for a hike, here in Morgan Hill. To my surprise, I saw yellow everywhere. So, yes! Fall is here… maybe not in full bloom, but that’s going to happen before we know it.

Fall is here

Are you’re ready to make some magic this Fall with me? 

Grab this gift first, and schedule your first session, TODAY! My weekend dates in September are booked however there is still time to create beautiful memories in October and November. Well, even December is cool, if you like to splash in puddles! Just don’t wait till then to schedule your session. 

Family Portrait Photographer | The importance to be authentic during a photo session

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Family Portrait Photographer

FAMILY PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER SAN JOSE

As a family portrait photographer, maybe not a strictly documentary one, but someone who wants to “catch” the real personality of the person in front of the camera, to those who ask: “what should we do during the session”, I always say: “be yourself”. But to be just that it’s good to engage in something that you or your family enjoy doing. The fake smiles are not what I aim for. I want to see your and your kids’ “authentic self”. However, I know how hard that is. And as Amy Cuddy says: “The wish to feel and be seen as “authentic” seems like a basic human need, and maybe that’s why the term “authentic self” is so popular these days. Actually, sometimes I feel it gets thrown around like confetti on New Year’s Eve.” What is your authentic self is probably something you have to answer to yourself. What is it that you need the photographer that you want hire for? I think the answer is more personal, but it’s important to know it before you start looking for a photographer for you and your family.

PORTRAITS AS INDIVIDUAL  AS YOU

One of the books I’m in the mid of reading is, by mentioned before, Amy Cuddy. She talks about what being present means, and how that can help us to overcome the biggest challenges while being our boldest selves, and while staying true to our authentic selves. I know, so many of my clients can totally relate to what she says about being so stressed in certain situation that we loose ourselves completely; we don’t know what to say, and how to act – we “simultaneously analyzing what we think others think of us, what we said a minute earlier, and what we think they will think of us after we leave, all while frantically trying to adjust what we’re saying and doing to create the impression we think they want to see.” After that we spent days and days rewinding that situation and beating ourselves for not doing this or not saying that, because we were paralyzed with fear, stress, judgmental thoughts.

Where do I go with this, you might ask. Well, I know how it feels to have a camera pointed at you, when you don’t have much of the experience with that. Not only you put yourself under the pressure to look your best, but also, for you think your whole family have to behave “properly”. You think, everybody needs to be happy, and smiling, and it a good mood, and ready to enjoy this time in front of the camera. Which in my opinion is not the point. Really. If you’re working with a photographer you’ve never met before, it adds another level of stress. She/he is a stranger to you and your family, and you want to make the best impression, while not really knowing what she or he might think about your ideas, or the way you or your kids (which is often the case!), act.

I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT! Really. I have two kids, two dogs, and husband who does whatever he wants (well, he gets his share of my thoughts about that later, but he doesn’t even care about that). Well, behaving is last thing I expect to see during my sessions. I see my clients as individuals who are all different, and who have their own personalities and style and ideas, and thoughts, and who not necessarily enjoy having to put the fake smiles on. In my opinion when I (and the parents) stop preaching, conducting, interrupting and start observing and being present in what’s happening during the session, the MAGIC HAPPENS.

I think, the best example of it all are children. They are present in any given moment to the fullest. They don’t care about judgment, and they don’t fear it.

All of that came to me while watching the sun setting. I asked my daughter to dance for me. And she did, here is her sunset dance.

For those 5 minutes she was totally present in her task. She heard her own music, and you could see how much she enjoyed the wind in her hair and on her face.

And while sometimes I don’t have the words to describe what I feel, the one thing is certain: when I hold a camera there is nothing else in the world – just me and my subject. There is no judgment, nothing else matters but the person (or the family) in front of the camera, and their story.

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email me: 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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Stanford Family Photography Session {Family Photographer, Palo Alto, CA}

I remember my first Stanford Family Photography Session. I was so excited about it. And scared. At the very beginning of my career I used to shoot almost all my sessions in very open spaces. I wanted to limit the amount of random people in the background. I didn’t have any skills in Photoshop. I didn’t own Photoshop. I had tried to avoid places where there could be many objects in the background that later I would have to remove in Photoshop. Simple. Right? Trees and open fields are very safe places to shoot if you are like I used to be two years ago 😉

Luckily during that first session at Stanford University Campus the place was totally empty. Right then I fell in love with this place. After that session I had gone there countless times to explore it more, and to get to know it more. I knew I want to shoot there more often. Stanford Family Photography Session

This place is not the easiest place to shoot at, but man, when you get it right it’s so rewarding. There are so many great places to incorporate as a background, so many great ways to play with the light, and no matter the weather or the time of the day, there are options to get awesome photos.

The session I’m posting today was very special.

It was during the time when one of our girls was going through some tests regardless the possibilities of having an epilepsy. This little girl here is after a liver transplant, and it all started with symptoms very similar to what our girl was going through at that time… Long story short, this family wanted a session at Stanford as it’s a place they have grown very fond of. She had the surgery at the Stanford Children’s Hospital and they come to Stanford very often for her check ups and follow ups. Before I met them I had though due to her surgery this session will not be very “active”, but rather calm and mellow. How surprised I was when this session turned into a full of kisses, giggles, running and trees climbing hour. Pure happiness and joy.

Stanford Family Photography Session

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Stanford Family Photography Session

 

 

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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 discounts, and model calls. 

Hope to hear from you soon, 
Ewa, your family photographer 

Stanford Family Photography Session

It’s a boy! {Newborn Photography, San Jose, CA}

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I met this beautiful family when they were still waiting for their baby boy:

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It was a wonderful day when I opened my email and read “Hello Ewa, our baby boy arrived yesterday. We are all fine and happy. When can we schedule new sesssion?” The best email a photographer can receive. Pretty soon after I reveived that message I had the chance to meet Leonardo myself.

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Self-Portrait of the Photographer {Portrait Photography, San Jose, CA}

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Taking pictures is my passion. It is a passion of every photographer out there, at least this is what I believe in.

We spent hours on end shooting, editing, thinking about locations or location hunting, visualizing sessions with clients, browsing the Internet and organizing our Pinterst boards. Everything for one purpose – to become a better photographer and to serve our clients better. Many of us have mastered and memorized all the techniques of encouraging our models to feel comfortable in front of the camera. We know a lot about posing, how to make people look good, how to use the light and how to use every bit of space as a good spot for a photograph.

We take tremendous amounts of pictures weekly… Don’t we.

But how many pictures of ourselves, with kids, with spouses or without them, do we have?
How many times when somebody said, “hey you’ve been shooting all the time, let me take some pictures of you”, you just packed your stuff and run away or hide? I remember those days too good.

We have all the fancy equipment to capture beautiful moments of people and for people but so few of us use the same equipment and talent for themselves.

In addition there isn’t a better way to practice the knowledge about photography than to practice on ourselves. It’s free and nobody else needs to see it.

At the same time you might be really surprised how many great moments you will capture, especially if there are kids involved!
I cherish all my self-portraits I’ve taken so far, no matter how blurry and not perfect they are.

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So, if you’re a photographer, and if you read this, I challenge you to go out there and turn your camera on yourself.
Once for a while, instead of spending an hour in front of the computer looking for inspiration, just go out and face the camera yourself. You might be surprised how many new things you’ll learn, how many new ideas you will get.

I can promise you that!

Here my two tutorials talking about of how to start taking self-portraits:

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Now go out there and shoot yourself! Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!