san jose 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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Holiday Bazaar in Milpitas, California. Your opportunity to shop locally.

Great day today. I participated in Holiday Bazaar at John Sinnott Elementary in Milpitas, showcasing local vendors and artists.

Thank you for having me and looking forward to expand the new connections I made.


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How I got to photograph Slovak Rough-haired Pointers {Lifestyle Family Photographer, San Jose, CA}

When I first got an email from this family I was extremely happy. Not only they are dog lovers, but they are literally dog parents. Oscar and George are their kids as any human kid could be. They even go trick or treating each year. This year, for example, they were supposed to be superheroes, but due to a family sickness they did not go.

Thanks to their super awesome mom you will be able to see Slovak rough-haired pointers super heroes, anyway. She dressed them all up today and snapped those pictures just for the purpose of this post, so enjoy what might be your only chance to see such cute thing.

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I really hope they enjoyed those costumes more then being in a sheep disguise (what I heard, they did not like so much).

This breed (Slovak Rough-haired Pointer), is very unique to United States. If you were with us you could simply see that, because every single person who walked by us stopped with the question:

 “wow! what kind of dogs are they?”.

I was very impressed by the dogs friendly attitude towards me or other dogs. During the session I had received countless kisses and many times we had to take breaks caused by the urge to say “hello” to passing dog owners, or rather the owner’s dogs.

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These dogs are mostly bred to track and point vast range of animals from birds to deer. The couple got them after falling in love in this breed during a dog show they attended. Or I should say, it was the mom who fell in love with this breed. And when woman wants something, she gets it. Right.

They imported one from Slovakia, and then one more. They say, they don’t plan more, but, well, I know how that goes…

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You start from one, then the one seems to be a little lonely, so you add another one, and before you know it you have a bunch…

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As an owner of a hunting breed myself, it was very interesting to listen about Oscar and George. I loved hearing about their personalities and how different they are. Just like my dogs. The same breed, two totally different personalities. Well, the same goes with my two daughters. Kids, dogs, no difference, and we pretty  much agreed on that, too. LOL

Also, just like kids, we were able to trick them to “behave” with some delicious snacks during the session.

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if you’d like to chat about your session, feel free to email to 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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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?

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3 easy steps to find your inner Elsa. You must try it {Family Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Well, at some point in our lives (and lets don’t hide it, we all have those moments), the only thing we want to do is to sing the all-known words:

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore”

The thing is that the right prep makes the experience more valuable and cleansing. So here are 3 easy steps that will help you to discover your inner Elsa, because I know we all have her in us.

Step 1.

You need to get a big scarf or a shawl. The older the better. The one that your grandmother gave you years and years ago would work best. Probably a light blanket will do the job, too. Next wrap it around you in whatever form your heart desire.

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Step  2.

You need to go outdoor. You simply can’t stay inside your home, hiding. The energy of this experience needs to be released out into the fresh air, and it needs to be transfer onto any walking or driving by people.

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Step 3

Sing. From the bottom of your lungs, until your throat hurts. No matter the lyrics. They don’t need to make any sense. They don’t have to be even in a human know language.

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Repeat daily, or at least weekly!

 

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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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Orchards Photo Session {Family Photographer, San Jose, CA}

Hi there!

What an amazing time of the year we have here in California. I encourage you to get out there and enjoy as much of the fresh air as you can. Let the kids scream from the bottom of their lungs! Let them get so dirty that you have to undress them first before you let them enter the car. Seriously I have not seen my kids so happy and full of life in a long time. The moment I told them they can play around the mud, their faces bloomed like the flowers surrounding us. I almost lost one of my lenses due to a flying rock, but oh well, we do way more silly stuff in order to get a good shot in our profession.

Lets be silly together this year. Lets get into interesting places. Lets read new kinds of books. Lets travel a little further… Lets be more! I like this plan… .

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If you would like to get those amazing portraits of you and your family in the ocean of yellow and green, shoot me an email. The sooner the better. Those fields won’t last for much longer!

 

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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

The Miracle Of Life {Newborn and Maternity Photographer, San Jose, CA}

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Some of the best things that happen to photographers are “coming back” clients. They make us feel wonderful. The other thing that makes us feel wonderful is to be able to watch them grow as a family. Pregnant mom hugging her newborn treasure. Newborn becoming a running away from you toddler, and all that in front of your camera. How cool is that?

Very recently I had the chance to experience the warm fuzzy feeling those kind of sessions bring.

First we met for a maternity session, and way before out session I was warned about the soon-to-be a Big Brother not liking to be photographed. To a great surprise of his parents he endured the session like a pro.

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Few months later I met them again, richer in one family member. What a sweet and full of sleep Prince he was.

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Thank you Manja and Chad for letting me be a part of your growing family this year!

Alicia in Wonderland {Family/Kids Photography, San Jose, CA}

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We met with Alicia and her mom in one beautiful late afternoon. I’ve been working on a special project (that is top-secret for now) and I was planning to focus a lot on Alicia’s mom, but when the camera made its first “click” something clicked in Alicia, as well.

From a shy, hiding behind her mamma girl, she opened up like being in front of a camera was her first nature, like she’s done it many times before. I just couldn’t miss all those wonderful moments in which she became the star.

Thank you both, girls!!!

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Family Photo Session {Family Photography, San Jose, CA}

During this session I felt like I was in a private “pump it up” kind of party. There was a lot of jumping, ball throwing, jumping, and more jumping and…
…. and have I mentioned there was a lot of jumping? I felt like my camera is going to burn down. At the end we had a chance to watch a beautiful sunset.

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 Of course, I could not pass the big mirror and some reflection shots!!! I love the way kids interact with mirrors. True bliss.

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