Around Our Clocks - 9am | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Have I mentioned how glad I am that it's summer in Northern Virginia? The first few months of this year were a little rough for us (figuring out the best learning environment for our oldest), but we're doing much better now. Perhaps not least because we can just head outside and play in the dirt when tensions start running high.

Mother and son self-portrait reading a book by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Perhaps you've heard the adage that children are our greatest teachers? Some days I think I must have more to learn than most. I've heard this saying dozens of times since having my first kid, but it has never had much meaning for me until this year.  I guess I thought that lessons from children must be easy or obvious.  But this year's lessons haven't at all been a passive acceptance of simple concepts - for me, at least.  Though perhaps simple in retrospect, I've found in them all kinds of emotional baggage and more personal faults, shortcomings, and mistakes than I was interested in knowing about.  On my good days, I also realize I've found more acceptance, patience, and love - for myself and my family.

Mother and son self-portrait high-fives by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

This sh*t is hard.  And if you're ever feeling like you're the only one who feels that way, know you're not alone.  My social media feeds are filled with beautiful images and sweet moments (ahem, like the ones here).  These are often my favorite ones to post in my own feed because sometimes I'm surprised that even in the midst of a chaotic day, sprinkled with meltdowns, pleading, or yelling (from all parties) - even on those days - we can still have moments like this. Because as imperfect as I am and as often as I fall short, my boys are wonderful examples of what it means to forgive, move on, and be utterly present in this moment of life. 

If you find yourself in need of parenting inspiration, I can't recommend enough the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids resources.

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.  This month was 9am. Continue the circle by visiting Heather Tully to see her May 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.

Three reasons to book a photography session for your family vacation | Washington, D.C. Documentary Photographer

Today I'm sharing a fun vacation session from this sweet family's visit to Washington, D.C.  The D.C. area is such a popular place to visit.  From spring cherry blossoms and Smithsonian museum visits to the Capitol Building, National Mall and monuments - there's no shortage of fun (and free!) stuff to do.  

 Family Vacation Photo in Washington, DC by Nicole Sanchez Photography

I have a soft spot for photographing family vacation sessions. I have fond memories of my own family's vacations to the beach and camping and I love looking back on those pictures with my parents and sister and sharing them now with my own kids.

It can be hard to get the whole family in the frame together though, especially when wrangling little ones. There's only so many times you can ask a stranger to take a picture and, often, one parent becomes the designated photographer and is missing from most photos.  In my family, that would be me (surprise!), so I love hiring a photographer to document part of our trip.  Here are three reasons why:

 Vacationing family in front of Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
 Boy taking a break on National Mall by Washington, D.C. Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

1. No pressure.  Planning a family vacation with children is no joke.  Choosing a kid-friendly location, searching for fun activities, and figuring out logistics is time-consuming and stressful.  And once you arrive at your destination, it's still not time to sit back and put your feet up with a glass of wine (I somehow never realized this until my first vacation as a parent. Go figure. :-) ). Hiring a photographer takes the pressure off of trying to capture all the fun of what your kids are doing and allows you to just enjoy the fun with them with no added pressure.

 Family walking in front of National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

A documentary session also means no need to stop what you're doing to take photos (although a quick portrait in front of the Capitol Building is likely a necessity!). You already have enough to worry about (snacks, public transportation, potty breaks, and, and, and...) - fewer photo interruptions makes for more cooperative family members throughout the day.

 Boy on family vacation in Washington, D.C. by Nicole Sanchez Photography
Boy holding rock by Washington, D.C. Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

2. A local expert I've lived in the D.C. area for ten years and have loved taking my time getting to know all the area has to offer.  Hiring a local photographer means you get access to all their knowledge - including the best places to visit and eat (and the best times to go), off-the-beaten-path attractions, kid-friendly recommendations for everything, and, of course, the best photo opps.

 Family Vacation at Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

I loved planning this D.C. vacation session and getting to know this family a bit before meeting them.  From their love for trains and dinosaurs and a need for time and lots of space for running about with two energetic boys - we were able to make the most of their limited time in the city, while also keeping things flexible, low-key, and stress-free.

 Kids playing in museum in Washington, D.C. by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

3. You were there too.  (Or your spouse.) The point is, it's a family vacation.  And the whole family should be present.  When looking back on these vacation photo years from now, the pictures your kids will appreciate the most will be the ones of you together.  When going through my family photos, my eyes always linger most on the pictures of me with my parents. Some things change and some stay the same and these moments frozen in time are glimpses into our stories.  Who would we be without our family?  These photos help us remember the stops along the way.

 Mom holding son on vacation in Washington, D.C. by Nicole Sanchez Photography

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.