Fresh 48 at the Hospital | Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer

Nothing compares to meeting your baby for the first time and getting to know him or her in those first hours. I could gush about this experience all day and love reminiscing about this time with both my boys. I still regret not having a photographer to document my eldest son's first days and I'm so glad to have planned ahead for my youngest. Having experienced this special time makes me that much more honored to photograph it for my client families, like this beautiful new mom at the Women and Infant Health Center at Virginia Hospital Center in Northern Virginia.

Mother nursing newborn in hospital bed by Northern Virginia family photographer Nicole Sanchez
New mom smiling at newborn son by Northern Virginia family photographer Nicole Sanchez
Mom holding newborn in hospital room by Northern Virginia family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Whether you deliver at home or in the hospital, it's an incredible time to preserve with pictures or a film. The newborn phase goes by in a flash and it can be hard to appreciate the sweetness when you're adjusting to a new baby, especially your first. Getting the hang of feeding, changing, napping, and trying to eat, sleep, and bathe yourself can take over, so having someone else there to capture the bigger picture is a relief.

Mom comforting newborn baby in hospital crib by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Happy mom smiling at newborn in Northern Virginia Hospital by Family photographer Nicole Sanchez

I love Fresh 48 hospital sessions like this one at Virginia Hospital Center. Seeing a new mom with her baby is a special experience and I appreciate documenting all those early details and sweet moments and thinking about how they will enjoy being able to see and share these first moments both now and years from now.

Newborn baby with lots of hair by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Newborn baby holding mom's fingers by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Mom learning to nurse new baby by Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez

These images are part of a fusion session which included a Fresh 48 film of this newborn and his mom. I'll be seeing them again soon for an in-home session and can't wait to see how much he's changed.

Newborn baby breastfeeding contentedly in hospital by Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez
New mom trying to swaddle newborn baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Yawning baby in hospital by Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Mother cuddling newborn in hospital bed by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Contact me to learn about custom multi-session and combination photo and film packages.

A Christmas Family Film | Washington, DC Family Photographer

The holiday season is such a magical (okay, and sometimes hectic) time, especially with small children. And decorating with a toddler can be hilarious, as I found with this sweet Washington, DC family. Their little guy loved taking the ornaments off the tree while decorating. (May he always love cleaning up so much!) Sweet, fun, everyday moments like this at home with his mom, dad and newborn sister peacefully sleeping nearby, made making this film so much fun. An added bonus was their Chinese crested pup who made a game out of chasing light reflections that my camera made on the wall.

I spent a beautiful December morning with them, as they enjoyed getting accustomed to their newest member who was just under two weeks old. Video is such a special way to capture children. They change so fast. A family film becomes like a little time capsule that you open and remember little things already forgotten, like the adorable way your son pronounces his little sisters name or those crazy cute newborn yawns. I love to imagine these little ones watching this film every holiday season and marveling with their parents at how much they've been.

I'm now booking a limited number of family film sessions in 2018. Contact me today to learn more about planning a film session for your family this year. Still images are included in every family film session, so stay tuned for some beautiful images from this session that I can't wait to share!

A casual birthday celebration | Washington, DC Family Photographer

Photographing a quiet morning with your family may seem like an unusual was to celebrate your child's first birthday. Birthday parties are awesome, but if you're looking to highlight what's unique about this special time in your family life, a casual day at home is the secret to success. That exactly what this Washington, DC family chose to do to mark their sweet son's first birthday.

Parents putting pants on toddler boy in Washington, DC by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Mom and Dad playing with Baby in Washington, DC kitchen by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Birthday parties can be stressful for parents and children alike. Extra people, missed naps, and mixed up routines can be a challenge no matter how carefully you plan. Parties are full of fun moments that make for great photos, but a normal day at home means sharing and capturing what you love best about your family in this fleeting time, from morning naps and breakfast together, to Skyping with Grandma and tickle attacks.

Mom playing on bed with baby in Washington, DC by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Parents playing with baby and smart phone by Washington, DC Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

I loved this sweet family's routine of brushing their teeth together. This little guy may not always love brushing his teeth so much.  It's fun to see the things parents do (often over and over again) to entertain little ones and make life happen (like how it sometimes takes two people to put on a toddler's pants). It's those little things that are so easy to look past in the moment and forget as children move on to the next milestone or crazy behavior.

Baby brushing teeth with mom and dad by Washington, DC Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Family brushing teeth in Washington, DC by Nicole Sanchez Photography

I love photographing the chaos that big family celebrations bring, but there is something equally special about simply showing parents and children with each other. The love they share and the home they create together is what makes childhood memories and celebrating each year so sweet.

Contact me today to learn about planning a session that's perfect for the milestone you're celebrating.

November Favorites | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I unintentionally took December off social media. It started as an experiment in deleting Facebook and Instagram from my phone for a day and then turned into a week and another and another. I checked in from time to time but haven't added the apps back to my phone and I'm not sure I will, at least Facebook anyway. Now that I'm back from a holiday break, I'm excited to share a backlog of photos from November and December, including some amazing client sessions.

Since my break also included a lapse in editing personal photos, these are from November and include those that made our holiday card this year.  November is the best month for fall color in Northern Virginia and we often have warm days, so it's a perfect time for capturing seasonal color (and not freezing your fingers).

I think I'll be making a December hiatus an annual event. I've been surprised to learn how many other things I could be doing (including nothing at all) when I'm not scrolling social feeds. It's been a refreshing break to relax a bit, regroup, and set goals for the new year.

Happy New Year!

Want to learn how to better document your own family's day-to-day?  Sign up for my mailing list to receive 4 Steps to Stop Time and Savor the Moment with Your Family.  It's a simple and fun guide to documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.

3 things I've learned from having my own family photographed | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

There's truth in the adage, “practice what you preach.” Especially when you have kids, because they'll be the first to call you out. (Not that I would know from experience or anything.)

The saying applies to having your family photographed as well.  While I love a great family portrait where everyone is looking and smiling at the camera, I love even more the pictures of real life.  These are the ones I most enjoy taking for others and the ones I most appreciate of my own family. 

brothers reading with mother on couch

When I look back on pictures from my childhood, I wish I had more photos of my parents and with my parents. Photos that show them being parents and that also offer glimpses into who they were besides Mom and Dad. That's what images of real life offer. An opportunity to see aspects of your life that you may not see when you're in the moment. These images offer an opportunity for your kids to look back and realize that their parents were regular humans too. Heroic and flawed all at once.

baby tumbling off couch with mom's help

I've hired documentary photographers to document my family's daily life several times in the last few years and every time I've left the experience feeling so grateful to have those moments captured in a way that my children, husband, and I can look back on in years to come.

Having someone photograph my family is so different than doing it myself.  And since I know how it feels to invite a near stranger with a camera into your home and into your life, I wanted to share insights from my experiences and address concerns that some families may have about hiring a photographer to come into your home to document your family life.

mom snuggling son in her lap

1.  Don't worry about feeling awkward.  It's normal. If you feel uneasy, just remember how important it is for your kids to see YOU in pictures of their childhood. 

Often, one parent is the designated (officially or not) photographer in the family, leaving their presence in photos relegated to infrequent cell phone images by other family members, selfies, or the once yearly family portrait for holiday cards.

Of course, in reality you're an integral part of your family's daily life. Working hard to keep the ship running and providing love, support, and fun to your whole family. Having someone else there to photograph leaves you free, even for just a few hours, to just engage with your family.  You may feel a bit awkward or a bit frazzled, but if you just remember your only job is to enjoy time with your family, that is what you and your family will remember and see in your pictures.

mom looking funny trying to entertain son

2. Kids will be kids. Especially in front of a camera.

Kids have a way of doing the exact opposite of what we want them to do when there's an audience, especially a camera. The best thing to do is to roll with it. Have a rough plan and if they have other ideas, adjust.  They'll be more cooperative if they feel heard.  And even if they put on a performance, you'll likely get some funny photos for the trouble.

boy standing on top of toilet edited by nicole sanchez photography

Documentary style photographs capture both the endearing moments and the challenging ones. Parenting can be a roller coaster ride. In the span of just a few minutes, you might experience both a meltdown and a fit of giggles. You shouldn't be shy about preserving both.

3. Don't worry about the dull moments. Or the meltdown moments. Or even the frustrated-with-your-spouse moments.

Real life is funny. And frustrating. Fun. And just hard sometimes. Give your children the gift of reality. Life doesn't always happen in golden light and with pretty smiles. Life is also eating play-doh or playing in the toilet when mom's not watching. And making messes and avoiding getting your teeth brushed.

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boy making face while getting teeth brushed

There will come a time when you no longer have to worry about keeping your kid out of the toilet or throwing a fit or no discernable reason (please tell me this is true??) and you're going to want to remember these hilarious and trying moments, even if it doesn't seem that way in the moment.

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Seeing these images of just a couple of hours from a morning with my family  in October makes me appreciate and love our chaos all the more.  One day these guys will be grown and I'm sure my husband and I will be bored (after we catch up on years of sleep and television watching, that is).  I'm so glad we'll have these images to look back on and see a glimpse of the little people they used to be and the (awesome) parents we once were.

mom tickling son while dad feeds baby

These images were taken by my talented friend Whitney Rowland and edited by me. Check out Whitney's awesome post on documenting One Second Everyday with video on your phone.

A Fresh 48 Newborn Film | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Last week, I shared this beautiful mama's maternity session on Capitol Hill. Today, I am so excited to share her baby's Fresh 48 film! This little boy arrived on a beautiful day in Northern Virginia and it was a joy to document a part of his first day. There is nothing like capturing a newborn. Everything is so fresh, sweet, and new. Even when they're squalling through frigid diaper changes!

Documenting this time on video is a such special way to remember those first moments.  And it goes by so fast, especially when you're in that new parent haze. I find myself looking back on my sons’ newborn images and videos, thinking, “I can't believe he was ever so tiny.”

And, oh, the sounds. Those adorable squeaks and sighs! Video truly captures the essence unlike anything else!

Also, I just have to say, the staff at the Women and Infant Health Center at Virginia Hospital Center were so friendly and accommodating to work with.

Contact me today to learn more about documentary family films.

Capitol Hill Maternity Session | Washington DC Family Photographer

There's no denying that kids make documentary sessions fun. They're unpredictable, full of spirit, and often unaware of the camera, which makes for great photos. So what if you're still working on growing the kid? Is documentary-style a good choice for a maternity session?

Pregnant woman sitting at reflecting pool in front of U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC

Documentary sessions are wonderful for maternity sessions and especially for first-time moms, as I found with this awesome mama in Washington, DC. Together we planned a session that reflected and celebrated both her life and interests before baby and her love and excitement for her growing baby.

Living and working in DC area is a joy for her and I had a wonderful time capturing some beautiful pregnancy images at the Capitol Building on the National Mall.

Mom making a pie during lifestyle maternity session in Washington, DC by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

After that, we captured her love for cooking during a cozy in-home session. Much of pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, is spent marveling at a wondrous belly and imagining the baby growing inside. Documenting that is a beautiful part of maternity images.

Most of all, I love thinking that someday this baby boy will look back on these images and see not only how loved and anticipated he was but also how beautiful and interesting his mom was, even before she became his mom.

Mom holding and looking at pregnant belly in lifestyle maternity session at home

Stay tuned for more of this beautiful mama. I'll be sharing her fresh 48 newborn session soon!

Mom drinking coffee in kitchen during lifestyle maternity session in Washington, DC by Nicole Sanchez Photography

Visit my session information page to learn more about documentary maternity or newborn sessions or contact me today to begin planning your custom multi-session package to document the arrival of your little one.

October Favorites | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We've had mercifully mild fall weather in Northern Virginia this season, though we seem to be making up for it with rain and cooler temps in the last week or so. While I was sad to see summer go, I do love the festivities in October. We visited the pumpkin patch and had lots of Halloween fun. But mostly, we enjoyed some final warm days outside. Here are a few of my favorites from October.

Want to learn how to better document your own family's day-to-day?  Sign up for my mailing list to receive 4 Steps to Stop Time and Savor the Moment with Your Family.  It's a simple and fun guide to documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.

3 Reasons to Print Your Photos Right Now | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Printing photos is one of those tasks I put off for too long and when I finally get around to doing it, I ask myself why I waited so long. Usually it's because I have a hard time choosing what to print and how to display them. Tips for both can be found here. For now, here's a little motivation for getting some prints made. Special bonus is that it's early November, so you've got plenty of time to print for gifts before the holidays!

gallery-wall-of-square-images-by-northern-virginia-family-photographer-nicole-sanchez

Here are 3 reasons to print your photos right now:

  1. Conversation starter - I have several “gallery” walls in my house made from print sets I make with Artifact Uprising a few times a year. They're easy to change out and update, though I like to keep some of the oldest ones around to reminisce. Like the other day, my husband and I stood by a picture of our now 4-year-old when he was around two and tentatively stepping around a giant puddle. Now he just charges through them. Life is busy and it's sweet to be reminded of those moments that seem like forever ago.

  2. Smile bringer - I can't count the number of times walking by a picture of my kids has brought a smile to my face. It's especially welcome at the office where it's easy to get caught up in the daily grind. Seeing a favorite picture of my oldest leaping of the couch or my youngest grinning ear to ear helps me take a moment to reflect and reset.

  3. Family history opportunity - As my son had gotten older, it's become more important to share stories of our family with him. Nurturing family roots is an important thing to do in childhood and pictures can be so helpful. He sees pictures of himself when he was a baby with his grandparents and other family members. Having them on display helps him know that even though we live far apart, he has family that loves him very much.

The more you take the more you can print! Want to learn how to better document your own family's day-to-day?  Sign up for my mailing list to receive 4 Steps to Stop Time and Savor the Moment with Your Family.  It's a simple and fun guide to documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs (worth printing!).

A mother daughter family film | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

When you have multiple children, it can be challenging to carve out one-on-one time to spend with each child. Time spent with the whole family is special, but it's also special and so rewarding to spend a little time with each child individually.  It's amazing the little details and nuances you can miss during the hubbub of daily family life.  One-on-one time, with fewer distractions, highlights those aspects of their personality that are changing so fast and are so fun to watch as a parent.

It was such a joy to spend a morning with this mama of three in Northern Virginia, capturing some special time with her youngest child and only daughter.  As a mother of two boys, it was especially sweet for me to document these mother-daughter rituals like putting on make-up and hair bows and nursing snuggles in bed after a morning of fun.

Film is a special way to preserve a glimpse of family life at any moment in time.  And any time is a great time to capture those details that make childhood and parenting special.  It's amazing how much change you can see, even when watching a film just a few short months later.  From their voice and the cute way they say certain words to the scurry of little feet so excited about life - they're on to the next thing before we know it.  And it's so easy to forget!

Learn more about family film sessions here or contact me to chat about a unique session for your family.