san jose lifestyle photographer

Our new family members, and how they got here. Stranger Challenge, week 12

I’m two weeks behind with posting about my 52 Stranger Challenge. So, I’m getting back to work and catching up. My super awesome stranger from week 12th was Beate. She has delivered to us our two new family members: Jitterbug and Muffy.

My husband met them both two weeks prior to their arrival back in Virginia. And yes, Beate from B’s Pet Delivery drove our four leg buddies from Virginia. Not to mention other places she was heading too, or going from.

new family members

She was on schedule an eager to hit the road as her fella pets on the back were not as patient as she was. However, she stayed long enough to have a friendly chat with us about her business. Of course, I had to ask her if she was ever hurt by any of the animal she transports, and of course, her answer was yes.

She was totally surprised when I asked her to model for me, and despite the fact that she was tired after days and days of driving across the country, she did awesome.

She told us, she works 3 weeks (3 weeks on the road driving), and then she takes 3 weeks off. She has visited almost all the states in America. She doesn’t have much time to “visit” the places she stops at, but it didn’t seem to bother her. She just loves what she does the way she does it 😀 What I totally get!

So, thank you so much Beate for safely delivering our new family members. They have already adjusted to us quite a bit, and we already see their cute personalities shining through.

Meet Jitterbug and Muffy:

If you have an interesting story to tell with your life, let me know. Maybe we can create wonderful memories with the story shining through, for you and your family.

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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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Halloween Portrait Play Date

The last play date we had – The Halloween Portrait Play Date in Saratoga – was a great success. I’m so happy I’d decided to do it. I’ve connected with so many great families who haven’t worked with me before.

Thank you so much to all who even despite the rain came to have some pre-Halloween fun with me.

Halloween Portrait Play Date

I decided to organize the Halloween Portrait Play Date because so often, too often, I see parents sharing photographs of their kids having fun in their Halloween costumes, but what’s always missing are the parents. Even if the parents wear costumes during Halloween, the pictures of the whole family I keep seeing are quick snapshots of before or after trick-or-treating.

I know how important and fun for kids is Halloween. They get so excited. They wish they could wear their costumes day after day for weeks. At least my kids do that (or wish to do that). Why not to make it a fun halloween session without being stressed about everything (like most parents do when it comes to professional sessions).

All that stress is going away during the play date. It’s fun, relaxed, and quick 😉

During the Halloween Play Date nobody expected anybody to look fabulous and the kids could play, run and scream, and pretend they are pirates and fairies… And during all off that all the participants had their family portraits done! This is how our Halloween Portrait Play Date looked like and felt like. Fun and relaxed with no pressure on anybody.

This was also a great introduction for many of the families who attended to get the feeling how working with me looks. And I hope they all had fun.

See you at our next portrait play date. However as soon as the photography craziness stops after the Christmas I’ll get back to organizing them again. Stay tuned by subscribing to my newsletter and/or to the events on Facebook.

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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.

location scouting gilroy

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

This gallery contains 1 photo.

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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Earth Day on the Bay at the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City

Today, we went to “Earth Day on the Bay” at the Marine Science Institute. There were many activities and things to see, but we anchored our butts at a lovely small beach next to the Institute. The beach is full of broken shells, and it hurts to walk on it bearfoot. However that didn’t stop the kids. They got wet and muddy, and all what they were talking about it how they wished they knew where we’re going, because they would had taken their swimming suits with them. Well, it looks like I know where to take them tomorrow. Beach it is 😉

It started from dipping they feet. Just a little bit. Then it went to going down to about their knees. The kids on the beach had a really great time. We should have visit more what was available inside the Marine Science Institute, but at the end the kids we just happy with where they were, and with finding clam shells (the beach was full of them).

At the end they were all dripping wet from toes to top of their heads. Still, we had to finish the day with a huge scoop of ice cream for everybody.

How was your day?

Earth Day Marine Science Institute-1

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“Mrs.AOK,
Mommy A to Z Manic Mondays Blog Hop

Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

Before I go into any further details of our Midpines Family Camping Trip (second camping trip this year), I have to admit, the further away from tourists, the better. Period. You want to know why… Take this for example…

In this one hour of sitting in the Yosemite Falls traffic I had witnessed so much of human nastiness, I was shocked.

I’m not antisocial, I just like to enjoy my space and my peace when I want it, and Yosemite Falls are the last place to get it. Well, probably if you go there in December you’ll get it. But you’ll also freeze your butt off.

I know you can get it in Yosemite. Long time ago, I had visited this place with friends and we even went skinny dipping in a freezing cold lake with not a soul around. There are places out there that you can get some privacy and enjoy the beauty of this place in peace.

Our camping trailer is one of these that needs to be set up first before we can use it, and by “set up” I mean “a lot of arguing about what to put where and why, and even more whispered cursing, everybody around you hear, anyway”. This kind of setting up where at some point you comfortably sit at a safe distance and just watch while the other half work in peace. We were the ones that arrive to a camping site at 11pm and spent an hour or so making all kinds of noises, and shushing each other. Fun stuff. 😉

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The camp site was super kid friendly. We woke up to a view of a playground, which we didn’t see the night before.

Our girls just loved it. They made all kinds of friends and cried a river when it came to packing and leaving because of the new friendships they’d made.

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mariposa california

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After we got dirty and muddy first thing in the morning, we headed to Mariposa to meet with grandparents, and from there take a short road trip to Yosemite Falls. We walked around a little the “downtown”, which seemed very cute and interesting. I wish we had more time to spend there and to visit all the old style buildings and antique stores.

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visiting mariposa california

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mariposa california

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This place was empty and peaceful compared to Yosemite! But we had other things planned, so we couldn’t really stay any longer than we already did.

At the end we also witnessed some police work, 3 cars pulled up to a museum we were at to a call to someone locking themselves out. Looked like busy day in Mariposa. 🙂

Living for a while in Fresno, well, seeing three sheriff’s department cars pulling to the parking I was expecting something totally different.

mariposa california

On the way to Yosemite Falls we even spotted the famous Mystery Spot sticker. I think, it’s pretty funny. Those are all over the Bay Area, and now I saw one in Yosemite!

yosemite fall

yosemite falls-2

The scenery along the way was amazing. At this time of the year, the hills bloom with orange poppies, and along the road there are beautiful purple trees. If we were not following the grandparents I would definitely had requested more stops to enjoy them, as well as to try shove my kids into them somehow. 🙂

yosemite falls

yosemite falls

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yosemite falls

yosemite falls

Also, right now the water flows there like crazy. You can spot a waterfall almost on every mountain. The mountains glow in the sun with the reflecting water that flows down. Kids were also excited to see the snow. It was high on the mountains, so they didn’t get to touch it.

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yosemite fall

yosemite falls

yosemite falls

yosemite falls

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The route to get to Yosemite Falls is very scenic. Well worth the drive, and the car sickness. Although I would think twice about the Yosemite Falls itself. The place is more crowded then Campbell’s Farmers Market on Saturday. We had spent more then an hour in traffic and we got nowhere close to the parking spots. It is something worth doing once in your life, but in my opinion after that there is no point of coming back

yosemite falls

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Seeing waterfall for the first time:

Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

yosemite falls

yosemite falls

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I would recommend to take as many pictures as you can during your first visit there, and from there run as fast and as far as you can.

yosemite falls
Midpines Yosemite Falls Family Camping Trip

This is exactly what we did. As soon as we were able, we came back to our camping site, and spent the rest of the day hanging out there.

The next morning, we had roasted marshmallows smothered in chocolate pudding for breakfast. You’ve never tried it? Well, you don’t know what you’re missing. 😉

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

I added an extra twist of roosting the marshmallows with grapes. Delicious.

camping at yosemite falls

and some randomness:

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

camping at yosemite

For all interested, we camped at Yosemite West / Mariposa KOA – great place for families with kids, and very close to Mariposa downtown. Both the camp and the town seems very friendly and helpful.

Husband accidentally locked us out of the camping trailer by loosing the key, and the people that run this place were really helpful. They seemed very concerned about us and helped us made all the necessary calls to get some people to our camp site to open our trailer. Luckily, after more then half of the day, we found the darn keys. We found them where they were left in the first place.

camping at yosemite-9

We’re already planning our next trip. Probably somewhere close to Redding. Will see.

Have a wonderful week!!! And feel free to share your family adventures with me. I’d love to hear them.

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Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls – Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls – Picky Eater Approved

This is my second jump into the journey of “Our quest for the best cinnamon rolls”. As some of you might already know, sometime ago I committed myself to make, and my kids to taste many different cinnamon rolls recipes, until I get bored with this project, essentially. I also decided to rate them  for the picky eaters, and not so picky, as I have one of each in this household. I’m saying this recipe was approved by my picky eater because she was the one who was more interested in the warm version more (she ate a few of them), then the not very picky eater (who stopped eating them after one bite of the first roll). Overall, those cinnamon rolls where not a big hit, comparing to the previous ones.

Our first try was Apple Filled Cinnamon Rolls with home made Apple Cider Caramel sauce. Beside the apple cider caramel sauce and few pieces of apple as the filling, this recipe wasn’t that different from the regular cinnamon rolls I make. I even use my old dough recipe, which was kind of cheating.

This time, I decided to follow as much of the recipe we are testing as my heart allows me. For examples, I can’t find a peace with the idea of buying a strawberry sauce or strawberry pie filling. I like to make it myself, if I can. So for this recipe I made my own. And it was delicious, although the color was not so vibrant as if you got it from the store. You know, it didn’t have all the artificial food coloring, that’s required in order to keep this super bright red color even after being cooked to death 😉

I cooked my strawberries with a small piece of peeled beet, for more vibrant color. I think it helped a little. I helped myself with this recipe from All Recipes.

Homemade Strawberry sauce

Homemade Strawberry Sauce

All the pictures included in this post are taken with iPhone 4. Having my “big girl’s” camera in this messy and sticky kitchen seemed to me like a not the best idea.

strawberry filled cinnamon rolls

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Strawberry Filled Cinnamon Rolls - Picky Eater Approved

Here is the original recipe for the strawberry filled cinnamon rolls. The only changes in the recipe were:

  • instead of white sugar I used turbinado
  • instead of all purpose flower I used mix of all purpose flower and whole wheat flour (ratio: 2 cups of APF, and 1 1/4 WWF)

For the cream cheese glaze:

  • I skipped the butter completely,
  • used mix of honey and turbinado sugar in place of the powdered sugar to my taste

 

Overall, as much as I liked the taste of those cinnamon rolls, they got soggy very quickly, and my kids ate them only on the first day, and right after they were baked, and still warm. They were not interested in them after that. My kids have started asking me to make more cinnamon rolls, but using their words “no those with strawberries in them”. Even the not very picky eater moves her head in agreement.

I would say 2 stars out of 5 in our cookbook.

After my first post I got two recipes from my readers and I’m going to try them next. One is not really a recipe for cinnamon rolls but Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Smitten Kitchen. I’m already feeling challenged. We will definitely omit the raising or currants, but I’m planning to stick to the whole wheat thing…

What’s baking in your kitchen today? If it’s a pan of cinnamon rolls don’t forget to share the recipe with me!!! ????

 

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