san jose kids photographer

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. 😜




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!


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

Bay are Portrait Photographer-1



best season for family pictures




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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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Mommy and me _ family photographer san jose


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


san jose mother's day session_ewa samples photography

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!!!


mommy and me sessions in san jose-1

B-day photo shoot san jose ewa samples photography



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


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



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:




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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Photographing Stranger Challenge part 7 – Valentine’s Day Stranger

This past week my “Photographing Stranger 52 week Challenge” got very sweet. Literally. It’s week 7th of the challenge. I seriously didn’t think I’ll come that far.

As you might know, we are big fans of libraries. Two weeks ago we went to our local library, for their free Valentine’s Day Crafts event. My kids enjoyed it a lot. On Valentine’s Day, we ended up in the library again. While on our way out, my older daughter spotted a sign pointing to the same room as the previous event. It said: Valentine’s Day Cookies Decorating. Oh man! How could we say no to that?

The fun part (or sometimes not really), of having kids who can read is, they no longer depend on the adults telling them what the world around them is all about.

This event was aimed for older kids but we were invited anyway, as most of the participants of this event were my kids’ age anyway.

While my kids were busy making their second set of cookies, I asked the librarian, if I can take a picture of her for my project. She didn’t want to just sit there while I was taking pictures of her, so she started decorating a cookie. She is a big fan of chocolate but not cookies. And because of that, we ended up with an extra cooking leaving the library. A reason for more happiness for my girls.

I love her smile she gave me at the end!

Photographing Stranger Challenge || San Jose Photographer



I’m happy that this time photographing stranger didn’t take me an entire week. It was a brief impulse and I went with it. In the past weeks, it took me several “misses”, as I call them. I see someone who I would want to ask but then I’m too scared and I miss the opportunity.

Now go and check out Hailey’s stranger!

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{San Jose Kids Photographer } Fun Kids Pictures Rain

Yesterday I was able to get some fun kids pictures in the rain. It looks like we are going to do the same today. Kids are already poking me and asking when are we going out… Some people might think that words like “fun kids pictures rain” do not go well together. Like my husband, who thinks he’s made out of sugar, and going out in the rain is deadly for him.

I think quite the opposite.

The rain wasn’t that heavy for most of the time, and there were moments when it didn’t rain at all. The kids had way more fun then in any given sunny day we’ve had so far.

We came home soaked… Well, not me, but those two little adventurers. They were dripping from all the rain, but mostly from all the puddles they decided to jump into and splash. After we came home, we had hot milk with honey and cupcakes for dinner, because why not. It all was followed by a warm bath with bubbles. Like literally plenty of them!!! 🙂 Fun! Fun! Fun!

So, off we go to have fun again again. We’ve got plenty of milk in the fridge and the bathroom is already supplied with bubbles soap.

bubbles ewa samples photography-5

I also recently fell in love with double exposure pictures, so there are only few out of many I took yesterday. You can see some examples in the gallery displayed below.

So YES, “fun kids pictures rain” definitely go together in this household.

How about yours!?

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if you’d like to chat about your session in the rain, or in the full blast sun feel free to email me: ewasamples(at)  also, to stay on top of all kinds of specials as well as photography tips subscribe to my newsletter :

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San Jose Kids Portrait Photographer inspired by Gregory Heisler

Last week I blogged about my first assignment for the portrait workshop I’m taking. Last week I’ve created some portraits that were inspired by David Bailey.

My second assignment was to study work of Gregory Heisler. This was pretty challenging. My idea for some of the portraits went beyond my equipment, and I had to settle for what I had on hand. I’ll definitely revisit this assignment whenever I have what I need for it. 🙂

This time I focused only on creating portraits 0f my kids, and let one of the pups out it.

san jose creative kids photographer colorful and fun studio -6

san jose kids photographer colorful and fun studio

I wanted to include a little more personality into those portraits. We used last year’s Halloween costumes, and for the extra spark we added their favorite thing to ride on. I also couldn’t let my older daughter NOT to put some of the decorations she loves to wear each and every single day. However we limited it, because I didn’t want the neck full or necklaces to take away the viewers focus. And believe me, she can look like a christmas tree on some days.

san jose kids photographer colorful and fun studio

san jose creative kids photographer colorful and fun studio

san jose kids photographer colorful and fun studio

san jose kids photographer colorful and fun studio

This was the last portrait I took of her and for the assignment in general, and I think, it’s one of the most accurate pictures of her. She loves her choo-choo train, and she’s very proud of all her riding skills. This thing is not made for heavy riding, but she doesn’t care. She’s taken it everywhere with her, and she’s been riding it to and from the park on daily basis. She has fallen off of it, just to get up and laugh her bruises away. She’s normally not the toughest cookie, but when it comes to this vehicle of hers, she has her own superpowers.

San Jose Kids Portrait Photographer inspired by Gregory Heisler-7


Today, I’m working on a third assignment, studying work of Mary Ellen Mark, and I feel like my brain is burning because all of the thinking I’m doing… 😉

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San Jose Family Photographer. Fine Art Children’s Photography.

This is definitely NOT about me complaining. Although, I have to admit, it feels really good to have delivered last photographs to clients. There are still some albums in progress, as well as wall arts, but most of it is behind me.

This is about me being happy to be able guiltlessly focus on some of the ideas I’ve had wandering in my head for quite some time. Something more personal and experimental. It’s more of a Fine Art Children Photography then my usual documentary and lifestyle.

Sometime ago, I came across a painting, and after seeing one I wanted to see more. And I have discovered A. Andrew Gonzalez:

And when I was going through his paintings I had an idea…

And I couldn’t wait any longer. And that’s good because I’m still waiting with blogging about my recent sessions for everybody to send and receive their Christmas cards. While waiting, I’ll fill the quietness in here with pictures of my daughters. Those two have surprisingly been very happy/willing to get in front of my camera. Probably, because we have been doing stuff that’s a little different from our usual.

Of course there’s a little bribing involved into the whole process. You see, to get this photograph:


and this:


I had to agree to take this picture first:


Her cow is her life companion, and leaving her out of the frame is always a challenge. Not to mention additional 20 stuffed toys she owns, and sleeps with, but we settled for a portraits with only two of them this time.

 And while creating we also had fun doing some face relaxation exercises 😉


before getting into the pose:


And finally the piece I was hoping to get. And I got it.

fine art children's photography palo alto ewa samples photography

I have to admit if feels wonderful to get the ideas out, and work through them.

One down, three more to work on (as of right now).

if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to ewasamples(at)  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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Your camera doesn’t give you vision {Family Portrait Photographer, San Jose, CA}

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



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

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

Zack Arias

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

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

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

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


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

If you’d like to chat about your session with me, please email to ewasamples(at) 
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

Bubbles and Tutus {Kids Photography, San Jose, CA}

The last few weeks, we all have been fighting with some health issues. If it weren’t my kids, it was me, and all over again. Being stuck in the house so much, I had a chance to focus on a very cute project I’ve been working on for a quite a bit. My sewing skills are nowhere where I would want them to be, but it looks like they’re enough to design and put together those cute tutus. It all came together perfectly, as my models are the size of my girls, so I had alive mannequins to try the tutus on as I was making them.


 Yesterday was such a gorgeous day and we decided to see if the tutus are completely ready, and if they will endure being used for an hour or so. I think they passed the test. My kiddos loved it, now keep your fingers crossed the actual models will do, too!