Friday Fun - Five things to kick off your weekend | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We encounter a crazy amount of information every day.  So I'm doing my part to add to it! :-) But seriously, my favorite way of finding new stuff is recommendations from friends. So every Friday I'll pass along my favorites from the week - things that inspire, uplift, educate, or just entertain. These are not affiliate links, so I'm not making any money - I'm just sharing things I enjoy.  Here are this week's favorites:

  1. Glacier Ghosts

    It’s almost Halloween, so it’s okay for a little macabre, right? I have a fascination with people who climb mountains. I’m afraid of heights and hate the cold, so you’ll never catch me attempting Everest, but I love reading about people who do. This article is actually about the Swiss Alps and what’s being revealed (hint: bodies are involved) as the glacier melts with climate change. Sad and fascinating.

  2. A reminder

    The very nature of documentary family photography is about celebrating the beauty of the everyday. But it’s easy to forget in the bustle of school, extracurricular activities, and the general goal of creating a memorable childhood for our children. This article is a simple reminder that you are enough. Even without, and perhaps in spite of, all those things, it really is the simple moments spent being completely present with our little ones that are most unforgettable.

  3. Hope

    My grandmother has suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for at least a decade and thoughts of the disease are not often far from my mind. NPR published an article this week featuring a brain scientist’s take on how to stay mentally fit. Much of it isn’t surprising (computer brain games aren’t really effective; instead you should focus on staying active and eat healthy), but I was intrigued by the impact of social engagement. Especially in middle age and as you get older, it’s greatly beneficial to the brain to be around other people.

  4. Permission

    Parenting is hard enough, but when you feel judged, it’s especially tough. All parents have to make choices about how best to parent their own kids. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how different children are. Really different. What works for some, doesn’t for others. What works for most, doesn’t for some. It’s hard to take parenting tactics that go against the norm or against the way you yourself were parented. And especially in public, being judged or being in fear of being judged is almost ever present. At least for me. I love Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parenting strategy and often share my favorite resources here. This is one of them, written for parents of “spirited” children. And aren’t they all spirited at times?

  5. A deal

    If you’re a photographer, or aspiring to be one, check out the 5 Day Deal. It’s a once-a-year huge bundle of digital goods for photographers and videographers. Ebooks, courses, discounts, actions, presets, templates, etc. All for a fraction of the cost the items would be on their own. And a portion of every purchase goes to a charity of your choice (from their list). And it’s quality stuff, not cheap giveaways. My favorites this year are from Design Aglow and Kate Densmore. Enjoy!

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Three reasons to have your newborn session at home with siblings | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Whether you're a first-time parent or bringing home your third baby, time is somehow warped during those first few newborn weeks. This is one of the reasons I love newborn sessions at home. With a new baby, and especially if you have other little ones at home, there's no time for anything but the essentials. It may sound stressful, and it sometimes is, but there's something freeing about just giving up all the extraneous things that are pulling at you and focusing only on what matters. 

 Toddler boy sleeping on Dad’s shoulder while Mom takes shoes off by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Eventually life has to pull you back in because other things do need to happen, like dentist appointments and oil changes, but for a few short weeks, you have every excuse in the world to tune it all out and just soak up your baby. Or all of your babies. So here are three of my favorite reasons to have your newborn photo session at home. And bonus alert: this was a film session, so I'll be sharing this family's sweet film soon.

  1. Sessions at home are best for kids.

    Introducing a new person with a camera to your kids is enough fun all on its own. Packing up the family and dragging them to another location for photos is a recipe for stress for everyone, especially with a newborn who needs to eat and be changed often. Kids hate being rushed and generally do the opposite of what you’re hoping for when they feel pressured. Having a session at home is immediately more relaxed. Kids are more comfortable and more likely to be themselves, which is exactly what you want captured in family photos.

    Family documentary sessions at home are flexible and made to suit your schedule. Kids need a snack? Great! Baby (or Dad) needs to nap? No problem. Daily rituals like meal times or snuggles or activities like baking or playing a silly game that you made up together are the bread and butter of family sessions. These are the real moments where you’re building connections with your children that will last a lifetime. No coaxing or cajoling necessary.

  2. Home is center of family life.

    Because home is the centerpiece of all that happens in your family’s life, it’s the best place to document the things that matter to your family right now. Whether it's a raucous game of Uno, seasonal crafts at the kitchen table, or sharing a love for baking treats, it’s what you do in your home that makes your family unlike any other. It’s the place you feel safest and most loved. These are the strongest memories that you and your kids will have from this short time in your lives. And it’s amazing to look back on these photos and see how life changes. What seems like a stage that will never end actually does someday to be replaced by something else. These stages come and go throughout childhood and can be easily forgotten if not documented.

  3. Home is part of your family’s legacy.

    I’ve written a lot about the importance of printing your family’s photos. When these photos feature your home, they become an even greater part of your family’s legacy and your children’s emotional foundation. Your home gives insights into who you are and what is important to you. When children see tangible photos in your home that highlight ordinary but beautiful everyday moments, they receive the message that they are important, family is important, and home is important. And that what they do every day matters.

 Mirror reflection of family with newborn at home by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact Nicole today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Friday Fun - Five things to kick off your weekend

We encounter a crazy amount of information every day.  So I'm doing my part to add to it! :-) But seriously, my favorite way of finding new stuff is recommendations from friends. So every Friday I'll pass along my favorites from the week - things that inspire, uplift, educate, or just entertain. These are not affiliate links, so I'm not making any money - I'm just sharing things I enjoy.  Here are this week's favorites:

  1. More love for Mr. Rogers

I confess that I did not love watching Mr. Rogers growing up, but I see now the value in Fred Rogers slow, deliberate, gentle style of teaching. This article talks about his frustration with children’s programming and how he designed his show to approach kids in a way they were most likely to learn. As I watch my kids watch Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, I hope that they pick up on the values presented. Sometimes we need to receive messages many times in different ways by different people to really learn them. It's not the only television my kids watch, but I'm grateful it's in our tool box.

2. Family Traditions

With fall officially here and the holiday season not far behind, family traditions have been on my mind this week. I posted a personal film that I shot at the pumpkin patch last fall and remarked at how I marveled at the changes in my son in just one year. It really motivates me to keep documenting our life and making the time to put together these pieces of their story. I also came across this great article recommending dropping the guilt and just choosing one tradition each season to focus on. That's all kids need to develop lasting memories. There's also a handy list of suggestions. My favorite is finding pretty fall leaves to iron into wax paper for decorations. 

3. Be productive (in a good way)

I keep my family alive by following to-do lists. Otherwise, I could forget practically anything. But I appreciate the perspective of this article. Often we tackle the things on our to-do list that seem urgent or give us quick wins, but that distract us from doing the things that actually move the needle. The latter are the things that are high-impact in the long run, but seem too big to tackle or are least what we’re interested in doing. Apparently, Mark Twain called it “eating the frog” and recommended doing that thing at the beginning of the day. The result is feeling more fulfilled at the end of the day, even if you checked less things off your to-do list.

4. Or do nothing at all.

With so many things to do, making time to do nothing can seem blasphemous. From a creative standpoint though, I’ve had my best ideas when I’ve given myself a chance to take a break. Our society values grit, determination, and muscling through. But sometimes the value lies in waiting. Taking time, even short periods, to step outside the busyness and give your brain the space to process.

5. A trip through time

I took a photo of my youngest looking out a window in our house the other day and realized that I have about five years of photos taken at this same window with both boys. So I spent a little time digging through my Flickr feed and found a few favorites. Time flies! :-)

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

A first birthday celebration | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I write a lot about the value of what happens in the day to day and why documenting it is so important. But documenting milestones important too! 

Most of us have a few pictures of birthday celebrations from our childhood. Usually blowing out candles. If we're lucky, those pictures include our friends and family too and offer a glimpse into our lives during a time we probably don't remember all that well. 

That's why I love photographing birthday parties. And first birthdays are especially sweet. Even more so, when you're surrounded by family and friends. I see this little guy being doted on by his big brother, parents, grandparents, and aunts and I just love that he'll have these pictures to look back on and see how loved he is.

Also, I'm a mom too, so I know how much effort parents put into making their kids' birthday celebrations memorable. From party favors to cake and theme selection - all the little choices that represent family interests and personality. I loved all the photographs that decorated this Northern Virginia party. 

I’ve had the pleasure of documenting these little guys through several milestones - maternity, newborn, and family sessions. Getting to know and make long-term connections with my clients is one of my favorite perks of being a photographer. If you’ve got milestones coming up, reach out to me about custom multi-session packages today.

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

A fall pumpkin patch family film | Northern Virginia Photographer

It’s that time of year again! Our local Burke pumpkin patch opens in just a few days. I shot this personal film during our visit last October. Oh my goodness, how much changes in a year! A year that, for us, was full of challenges and growth, excitement, and love. And it flew by. I’m so grateful to have little snippets of his voice in the film (“I want to stay here forever!”). He sounds so grown-up now by comparison.

We've been visiting this pumpkin patch since our son was two and this was a special visit with his preschool class and was a fun chance to spend some special time with Mom and Dad. Since we visit every year, it’s fun to see what changes and how our sons’ experiences change as well.

Family traditions play an important role in childhood. They provide a sense of constancy in an ever changing world. They’re fun and give us something to look forward to. But just because we revisit them annually, doesn’t mean we will forever and it doesn’t mean we won’t forget the details. I love highlighting the importance of family traditions by documenting them in films that kids can look back on for years to come and marvel at their own growth, change, and things they experienced when they were too tiny to remember. 

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Friday Fun - Five things to kick off your weekend | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We encounter a crazy amount of information every day.  So I'm doing my part to add to it! :-) But seriously, my favorite way of finding new stuff is recommendations from friends. So every Friday I'll pass along my favorites from the week - things that inspire, uplift, educate, or just entertain. These are not affiliate links, so I'm not making any money - I'm just sharing things I enjoy.  Here are this week's favorites:

  1. To amuse

@Vanderjames on Instagram - I'm not a big follower of celebrities on social media and I didn't even watch Dawson's Creek in it's heyday, but I can’t help but love James Van Der Beek's Instagram feed. He and his wife have like five kids under 5 and I love the humor and parenting insights he shares. Like this one highlighting the insanity of holiday beach trips with little kids. 

2. To inspire

Lots has been said about Mr. Rogers this year. But any article claiming to distill his wisdom into something I can apply with my own kids is going to grab my attention. While I found the claim (a simple set of rules for talking to children) to be a bit of a stretch (I think it was probably tongue in cheek), I found the insights into his meticulousness about each episode of the show to be fascinating. He is such a wonderful example of that. 

3. To motivate

I discovered NPR’s podcast Code Switch a few months ago and have been schooled weekly ever since on a growing variety of issues related to race and identity. One of my favorites so far was this one about the origins of the term “Ms.,” the bonds of friendship, and a unique insight of Mary Hamilton and her experience as a black female civil rights activist. There is always so much more to the story than what we think we know.

4. To guide

I’ve begun navigating the world of elementary school and have encountered a ton of wonderful resources lately for differently wired children, so I’ll be sharing my favorites finds here. This one comes from Understood.org, a site dedicated to giving families personalized resources for learning and attention issues. They have a special Back to School tool that provides articles based on your child’s age and skill/concern and helps you support them in learning to be advocates for themselves, make friends, and manage the various challenges of school.

5. Photo favorites

With all this talk about school, I can’t help but share the photo story of our first morning.

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

August Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I noticed the first leaves beginning to change color in our yard over the weekend and I can't believe that (official) fall is just around the corner. School has started here in Northern Virginia and this year we have a kindergartner. I was sad to leave the lazy (but not really lazy) days of summer behind, but I'm loving the structure school provides to our days. 

Before school started, we enjoyed lots of time with family on a trip to New Mexico. Traveling with two kids is no joke and there's not a lot of down time. I love documenting these visits with family and these adventures for my sons. I have at least one family film planned from this trip and I'm looking forward to pulling it together. Just as soon as I have time. ;-)

Here are a few favorites from the month. 

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Around our clocks - 3pm | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We ventured out of steamy Northern Virginia to dry New Mexico in August and had lots of fun adventures. One of my favorites was this short walk turned 4.5 mile hike in Angel Fire. Thankfully, the kids were troopers. My son and his older cousin were super interested in my camera, so I crossed my fingers and prayed they didn’t drop it, and got some neat pictures from their perspective. And bonus that I was in a few of the shots too. This one was my favorite. Because when you’re on a hike with kids, someone is always either in need of a snack, a nap, or a bathroom. This image is a perfect representation of parenting in my book. I love that I’m in the frame with both my boys and you can just make out the shadows of my husband and his niece at the bottom.

mom carrying baby while hiking with family by northern virginia family photographer nicole sanchez

This post is part of a collaborative documentary photography blog circle called Around Our Clocks. We're documenting a day in our life over the course of one year AND getting ourselves in the frame!  This month was 3pm. Continue the circle by visiting Cody Farrall to see her August image.

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Friday Fun - Five things to kick off your weekend | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We encounter a crazy amount of information every day.  So I'm doing my part to add to it! :-) But seriously, my favorite way of finding new stuff is recommendations from friends. So every Friday I'll pass along my favorites from the week - things that inspire, uplift, educate, or just entertain. These are not affiliate links, so I'm not making any money - I'm just sharing things I enjoy.  Here are this week's favorites:

  1. Get Organized (maybe).

I loved back to school shopping when I was a kid. Picking out the perfect first day outfit and organizing all my fresh school supplies for new classes was so much fun. My organization rarely lasted, but that's not important. :-) My oldest started kindergarten a few weeks ago and after the first few days of slips of paper, email reminders about upcoming events, and realizing the complexities of school holidays and teacher workdays, I decided to invest in a wall organization system. I got this one. And then promptly put a large hole in my wall using an electric drill when I should have used a screw driver (like the instructions told me). 🤦 So I have 3/4 of my storage system installed. And an extra hole in my wall until I make it to Home Depot for a repair kit. Don’t be me.

2. Get creatively inspired.

I love photographing my kids. But sometimes I'm lacking inspiration. Especially in the colder months, I find it harder to pick up my camera regularly. I love the suggestions here about choosing a single subject and working with what you have. Sometimes more limitations are just what's needed for creative breakthroughs. 

3. Get schooled.

Did you know there's a recommended height for hanging wall art? This is the guidance I followed for spacing my wall organization units. (Before I unintentionally drilled a big hole though the wall. Oh, and lost my drill bit. And anchor. And screw, too.)

4. Get schooled some more.

I love the idea of MOOCs (massive open online courses). I’ve started several, but never actually finished one. (Accountability is hard when you’ve got no money in the game and no teacher grading you!) But I have learned a lot from the bits of courses I’ve gotten through. Most recently I started exploring graphic design as a way of informing compositions and visual interpretation in my photography. CalArts has a whole specialization in graphic design that I hope to finish (eventually).

5. Enhance a sibling bond.

I mentioned the Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings book last week and how we're trying to cultivate a positive relationship between our boys. I came across this recommendation in the book and I'm looking forward to using this template to make a book for my boys as a Christmas gift. And for what it’s what, we’ve noticed many more sweet moments between our boys lately, so they’re either figuring it out or our techniques are working. I don’t think I care which!

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

Family films are the modern photo album | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

My family is my guinea pig when it comes to testing out new camera techniques and equipment. This has always been the case with photography and is equally true for videography. This summer, I got an underwater bag for my DSLR and had a blast documenting my family at the pool and at the beach. We ventured out of Northern Virginia in July for a family vacation and I started planning for this film the moment I knew we were going. I'm so excited to share it this week!

Each time I complete one of these films for my clients or my own family, I'm struck by what a moving experience it is. I love seeing my children flipping through the pages of the countless photo albums we have, but I've fallen way behind on yearly photo books. I've found that these films say more in 3-4 minutes than hundreds of printed photos can over the course of a year (especially if I'm not even printing them!). Movement, sound, and music convey so much emotion and story. I'm convinced that these family films are our modern day photo albums.

What will our children remember most from this time in their lives?

I've made taking video and making films a priority for vacations and trips to visit with family. My husband has films of himself from childhood and I'm a bit jealous. Childhood is a fleeting time in our lives but memories of events from that time make up a significant portion of our sense of self for the rest of our lives. Thinking about this and wondering what moments of our everyday lives our children are going to remember for the rest of theirs has given me incentive to invest more time in making personal family films for my family and for my clients. 

Films capture childhood characteristics, interests, and events in snippets that can be put in the context of the broader story of our family's life. Films provide a resource for our children and a glimpse into their history that would otherwise be lost, or at the very least subject to the subjectiveness of memory only.

Film captures the feeling of a moment.

With film, you get the sights and sounds and the feeling of what it was like to be in that moment when you were two or four and experiencing your family's beach vacation. You're dropped into that moment in time in a way that a still photo just can't evoke. I love seeing my kids flip through their photo albums and I will continue to make them (though I may never get caught up!). But seeing their reactions as they watch themselves in clips taken six months or a year ago is just priceless. Even they marvel at how much they’ve changed.

I also experimented with drone footage this summer and can’t wait to share that in a future film.

Nicole Sanchez Photography works with busy parents in Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland to create stress-free photo sessions that take all the loving, fun, and chaotic moments of family life to make beautiful photos and films that families will love looking at year after year.  Contact me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.