lifestyle family photographer

What is “location scouting” | Gilroy Family Portrait Photographer

Location scouting in Gilroy.

Today, I’d like to chat a little about one very important part of photographer’s life. And that’s locations scouting. I think most people know what that is, but not many people, especially those not related to the photography business don’t realize how important this one part of photographer’s work is. For both,  client and photographer.

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You might think, the photographer is that person who comes to your session, clicks the shutter nine hundred times, go home and give you the pictures he/she has taken. And yes, that’s one part of the entire process. However there is a lot of “behind the scene” happening that you might not be aware of.

At the very beginning of my career I’ve driven hundred of miles around San Jose and the surrounding cities in search of interesting places. I didn’t want the regular play grounds, busy with people and unwanted distracting structures in the background. Instead of going to playdates with other moms and kids, I would take my kids for an “adventurous” hikes, and long drives in between, with a camera hung over one  my shoulder and a diaper bag over another.

Week by week, month by month, I’ve built quite the list. Hills, hiking trails, creeks, gardens, fields of flowers, beaches. Sometimes I get an email or Facebook message from friends or my clients with addresses and places “to check out”. I love when that happens.

Whenever a client mentions a place I’ve never been before, for their session, I don’t say YES or NO until I go there and see it myself. I personally don’t like shooting in places I don’t know anything about. Getting to know a location, by visiting it at least once before the session is a tremendous help. It allows me to think ahead about the session, and about how to use the location for interesting poses and angles.

I love taking my kids to new places. They are always my first models. They’ve grown so accustomed to going with me for “location scouting” and for their new adventurous trips. I often scroll through google maps looking for something interesting. Even more often I make notes of intersections next to something that caught my eye. My notes on my phone are full of those addresses. 🙂

These days, I’m scouting for new locations around Morgan Hill and Gilroy. We recently found a beautiful garden close to us.

I invite you to look through the gallery.

Maybe you’ll choose this place for your next session with me. Who knows… Or maybe, you’ll let me know about an interesting place you visited that would be great for a session. If you’d like, we can get together for my next locations scouting and make it a playdate.

Speaking of playdates. Feel free to stop by at our Portrait Playdate.

Portrait Playdate

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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 :

 

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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Testing before really fun family session {Lifestyle Family Photographer, San Jose, CA}

It’s a love-hate relationship between my job and my kids. Sometimes they have to struggle through all kinds of posing, “weird light in their face”, particular kind of playing, or playing in a particle wardrobe, I mean, you name it. If I want to try something photography related, they are my “lab rats”. I just received a new studio lights, and I’m eager to try them, BUT I know how much my kids are going to like that, not! 😉

But, there are the sweet “sessions” when they don’t even realize I’m testing. And I think, they are the best. For me and for them. They love it, and you can simple tell it by looking at all the pictures I take during those times.

Last Saturday we did just that. I was testing a bubbles making machine for really fun family session on Sunday, and they were having the best time ever. Not to mention, we used all the bubbles making soap, and the next day I had to run to the store to get new one for the real session.

But the happiness I was able to document is priceless!

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How to survive Halloween? Simply enjoy it…

In my 10 years of living in America I carved pumpkin only once. Until today.

Each year, I had struggle to really enjoy this time of the year. As they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and I came to USA as a grown woman, fully formed and rooted in my culture and traditions. It was hard to simply switch from one to another, and “just have fun”.

Each year my husband dragged me to go trick-or-treating, and I did… in rain and cold, too.

The things we do for kids…, and husbands, right?

This year Halloween came from nowhere. I think being busy helped me not to stress about it. I haven’t have much time for that. Instead of stressing and complaining I have been enjoying my kids and their excitement. They’ve had the best time ever picking costumes, going to pumpkin patches, and bragging about carving the pumpkin. Not to lie to you, I think I was asked about the carving more then 30 times today…

So today I had some one on one time with that darn pumpkin, and here is a short documentation from it. Plus some extra photos of our Super Hero Girl.

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I don’t know how I’m going to feel about Halloween next year, but so far I’m having a good time…

What about you?

if you’d like to chat about your session with me, please email to ewasamples(at)gmail.com 
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Why and how I decluttered my photography style

In today’s post for 15 Day Blog Challenge I’m connecting two days into one: Day 12 and day 13. After I listened to both videos from Natalie Sisson (the creator of this challenge) for day 12 and 13 topics I immediately knew how I want to write it and that I want to connect those two days into one post. I knew I want to write about decluttering my photography style, because it’s been a journey for me, a very important one. I can’t say the journey is finished because it feels like I have just begun….

Here are the topics:

Day 12 – “What work and life clutter are you going to remove to be more of a minimalist and free up space for you?”

Day 13 – “Which ONE thing are you going to introduce into your life that is going to help your mind, body or soul?” 

When I started my business I knew I want it to be real. I wanted to be more about how people ARE instead of about how we can IMPROVE them with our photoshop tricks and the perfect lightening. I was sick and tired of looking at photographs of photoshopped faces and liquified figures. It wasn’t me. I didn’t feel connected to that kind of photography.

With my photography I wanted to celebrate the parenthood the way it is. I wanted to encourage parents to look at the final photos from each session and feel joy, love and happiness. After trying “this and that” I have realized the only things I want to be happening during my sessions are the real emotions. I decided to go prop less if I only can. I want my clients to be themselves. I don’t want them to play a role, fake something for the purpose of the session. I want them to bring their RAW selves. I’ll make it work for them. No matter what.

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I decluttered my Pinterest boards from portraits including “fake” props. These days I almost never use Pinterest for session ideas. I think every family is unique and while it is good to have a back up plan for poses I think it is more important to let the family be REAL.

This approach has given me a limitless possibilities. With each family we can do something else. Something especial. Getting rid of all the other distractions and worries about props and what not I felt like I have finally got where I wanted to be in a first place with my business.

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While many people think their photographs will get better if they get better (and more) equipment, I think my photography gets better if I take the time to look deeper with whatever I have, or just simply BE in the moment. Real life is not always crystal clear and tack sharp, and I like to emphasize that.

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The ONE THING I decided to introduce into my life that has been helping me to do just that is my old friend. This tiny fellow is as made of gold for me (it actually a sturdy piece of metal, anyway). It has been laying in my drawer for the last 10 years until I figured out how to attach it to my DSRL. Why I hadn’t think of it earlier, don’t ask me. I’m pretty embarrassed about it myself.

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I rarely use this little guy during my sessions with clients but when I decide to do it, I think magic happens. I know how important “crispy sharpness” is to people these days and how stress about it they can get. That’s why I  use this lens only for a short periods during some of my sessions. It’s more for my own pleasure then for anything else, although I have heard many wonderful words about photographs taken with this lens from my clients. And that makes my little heart sing!

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This lens is permanently attached to my camera when I go out with my kids these days. If I was a poet I would definitely write a poem about this lens.

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But instead I’ll use someone else’s words describing my thoughts:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

Yes, this little fellow is worth gold to me. It helps me to feel good about photography when I feel like I’m burning out. This ONE small thing has helped me to shape my passion way better then any $1500 lens would had done it.

How about you? What does make your heart sing and keeps it inspired? 

Ewa

 

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I consider the Fall season open !

This past weekend I had a family session in a gorgeous location in Redwood City and we all agreed, THE FALL IS HERE.

With this beautiful throw I consider the Fall season open, and I don’t care what you say 😉

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Then this week, I had the duty to walk our daughter to school and those few trips only reassured me about it. I know, I know, you might say that those few leaves on the ground doesn’t make it Fall,

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but if you stop for a minute or two you’ll notice that there is more then a few of them laying around. You can actually make a pretty big pile, just like we did today on our way back from walking her big sister to school.

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and like yesterday or today we did not have any problems with finding enough leaves to throw them in the air or at me (which was the most fun part of all).

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I can smell it, I can feel it, and I can finally wear my poncho without getting all sweaty in it… That’s the sign the Fall is here. Seriously 😉

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The only thing I’m missing is the rain.

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These are just sprinklers. One can dream, right.

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Sprinklers again…

So my advice to you is to whenever you’re out today, stop looking at your phone for few minutes and instead look around you. Let me know if you were able to spot the Fall, like I did (with a big help of my Little One).
Ewa,

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My tools to be more productive {Day 3 of the 15 Day Blog Challenge}

As some of you know, I am on the mission to finish the 15 Day Blog Challenge led by Natalie Sisson from “The Suitcase Entrepreneur“. I also started reading her book “The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Create freedom in business and adventure in life“. And I am sold on her vision of the dream life and career. The book took me to the day in which I packed my bag and left for an adventure to USA.

ONLY TODAY (and yesterday), YOU CAN GET a KINDLE VERSION OF THIS BOOK FOR FREE.

Anyway, today’s topic of the challenge is:

Which ONE tool are you going to use to become more productive?

Well, my first thought was, “does cup filled with black coffee count?”, but as I watched her video in witch she’s explaining the topic I got my answer… 😉

So, honestly I am a Google Everything kind of person. Before this assignment I actually didn’t think of it that much.

Beside a professional business software for keeping track of my clients and invoices looking at all the other things I use for my business and not only, they are almost all based on Google.

I use Google Forms to ask my clients for their feedback as well as for signing up to campaigns. I love it. It’s simple, and I don’t need to use any additional software on my computer or I don’t need to remember one more password. I also use Google Sheets and Google Drive. And of course Google Calendar for keeping reminders of my tasks, appointments and such.

Another tool, and I know we were asked for one, but this one deserves the mention here, is Canva. No matter if you’re a business owner of a parent who would like to add a twist to your Facebook or Instagram pictures, this is such a cool and easy to use tool. It saves me hours if I want to design an add for my newsletter or Facebook.

Like this image. Created on the spot for the purpose of this post with no need of opening Photoshop and trying to come up with an interesting design.

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So, if you want to get more productive with your creativity then Canva is the place to go!

Also log off from Facebook, like I did.

Have a wonderful day,
Ewa



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Original birth announcement and how to rock a family session injured

If you are thinking about ways how to stand out from the crowd, well, this family has a great idea how to do it. They came up with a very original concept for their son’s birth announcement cards – and the idea is very simple. They waited one whole year to do them!!! I think that with the life getting so crazy and hectic after new baby arrival (especially if you already have 2 boys you need to take care of), this is such a stress free and genius plan.

Also, one of them came to the session with an injured arm. Can you spot that frown? It’s going to be hard to do that.  With a huge support and encouragement from the rest of the family he rocked the session like a superhero! Seriously!

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Now it’s your turn. Did you do anything original for your baby arrival. Share with me and I might write another blog post highlighting all the original concepts for other families to use 🙂

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

 

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