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.



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 really, 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. Podcast - Slow Burn

I've been listening to my husband talk about how Nixon is underrated as a President for awhile, so when I came across Slow Burn's first season about Watergate, I couldn't resist. And I couldn't stop listening (and Presidential politics is not my usual cup of tea).  Season two is all about Clinton's impeachment.  In today's news cycle, I often think that what we're experiencing is unprecedented. Sadly, it's not. This podcast makes that awareness more bearable. 

2. Book - Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings

I posted about the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids resources awhile back. Now that our youngest is two, navigating the family dynamics is a bit harder (read: it's nearly impossible not to have jealous kids when your attention is divided). I'm learning that a strong sibling bond isn't a given and that parents play a big role in cultivating brotherly love. So, I'm loving all the insights and practical suggestions in this book.  One that was surprising was how important it is to dedicate special individual time with each of our kids to decrease feelings of insecurity and promote bonding. It was a lightbulb moment (and a relief!) to realize I don't have to engineer nonstop harmonious family time. 

3. Recipe - Cold Brew Cacao  

Summer may be all but over, but if you've ever read my bio, you know I drink iced coffee all year.  We were recently in New Mexico and I had a delicious cold brewed cacao pinon iced coffee. So naturally, I googled recipes.  And naturally, I haven't gotten around to making one yet, but I'm determined, so stay tuned.

3. Listen - Baby Shark

Maybe you've come across the Pinkfong / Baby Shark phenom already? We heard it for the first time a few weeks ago and now our two-year-old, in that adorable two-year-old way, asks for Baby Shark every day.  Warning: it's an earworm waiting to happen.

4. Food for thought - The Mississippi Delta Chinese - An Audiovisual Narrative

I'm from Mississippi, near the Delta, so I couldn't pass this story over when I saw it.  But even if you're not from the South, it's an interesting audio/photojournalism history of a piece of American culture. Leaving the South to come to Northern Virginia and seeing my home through others' eyes made me more aware of the complex issues of race, wealth, and education there. This perspective of Chinese-American families living in the Delta was eye-opening and a reminder there's always more to see and learn beneath the surface when you're willing to look.

5. Photo favorites

What's a photography blog without photos? I had too many favorites from this newborn session at home, so here's few that I didn't include. Babies never cease to entertain.

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.

How to make maternity leave unforgettable | Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer

I'm so excited to share this Northern Virginia maternity leave family session this week. No matter how long you're able to take off for maternity leave, it's safe to say it goes by too fast. But for such a fleeting time, it makes a permanent impression on your heart.

 New mom and dad smiling at newborn in Springfield, VA by Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 New mother smiling at baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mother kissing baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Those first weeks and months getting to know your baby are unlike any other and are some of the sweetest of all motherhood memories (even with the insanity of little sleep and constant feeding and diaper changes).

 New parents smiling at baby during diaper change by Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Baby making funny face while parents hold him by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mom burping baby on shoulder with dad watching by Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez

That's why I find this time so special to document with photographs. Time somehow passes differently during those newborn weeks. There's less pressure, less to do. Or at least, caring for a new little person takes up so much time and brain capacity, that nothing else is possible. But all that's important is really right there in front of you. 

 Looking over mom's shoulder at nursing baby by Northern Virginia Newborn Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mother doting on nursing baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Milk drunk newborn baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

I have such a wonderful time getting to know the families I work with. I love reminiscing and sharing about my own kiddos and my own maternity leave and newborn experiences. Most of all, I love watching new parents and the wonder they have for their new little one. 

 Looking over Dad's shoulder looking at new baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 New Dad holding baby son by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Dad kissing newborn son by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Especially for first-time parents with just one child, there's really nothing but time to just stare in amazement at this new little person you created. Well, stare and test the boundaries of their milk drunkenness. Parenting does come with some perks. ;-)

 Dad kissing mom holding baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mom and dad snuggling new baby on couch by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Baby sleeping in mom's lap with dad on couch by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mom looking at dad while holding newborn 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 me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

July Photo Favorites | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I can't get over how fast summer flew by.  We ventured out of Northern Virginia to meet up with family at the beach and were also lucky to have two visits with grandparents in July. Nothing brings out my camera more than seeing my kids with their grandparents and other family members.  Because we live so far away, I want to relish all the moments of us together and create something for us all to look back on when we're apart.

Lately, I've been taking a few less photos and a lot more video and working on more personal films for my family.  I'm so far behind on printing photobooks and I like to think this makes up for it a bit.  I have plans to email (I'm far too disorganized for paper letters or journals at this point!) each of the films to my sons with a little note about their adventures.  Assuming email is still a thing in the years to come, I like to imagine they'll have a whole library of fun films to look back on as they leave home and start their own families. 

I'll be sharing films from our summer as I get them finished as well as some sweet client films as the busyness of summer winds down and the routines of fall pick up.

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.

June Photo Favorites | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Have I mentioned how summer is my favorite? I try hard to reserve all my weather-related complaints for the winter months and bite my tongue in the summer whenever I start to voice my annoyance at the humidity or mosquitoes (I often fail because they are no joke here in Northern Virginia).

 Boy holding worm in backyard by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Boy holding large grub in back yard by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

There's no shortage of things to do when the weather is warm. Even the rain isn't so bad when you can jump in puddles and play in the mud.  We spend a lot of time adventuring in our backyard, digging for creatures and jumping on the trampoline. I really love how the kids bring about experiences that I would never had had otherwise (hello, giant grub!).  This Eastern box turtle showed up in our garage one day and we kept her for a few days, learning all about turtle habits and habitats, before setting her free again.

 Boy touching Eastern box turtle in Northern Virginia by Nicole Sanchez Photographer

It's fun to imagine what childhood characteristics these guys might carry with them into the rest of their lives.  Like my eldest's love for nature and my youngest's propensity to do everything sooner than his brother did.

 Boy flipping on trampoline in Northern Virginia by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Brothers jumping on trampoline by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

I'm also so excited to practice some underwater photography this summer.  These were so fun to take at our local Fairfax County RECenter pool.

 Boy in swimming pool by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Boy jumping into pool 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 me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.

The best photo sessions for toddlers | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

There's a wonderful time in babyhood when parents are everything. Just the sight of your face brings forth the sweetest smiles in the world. And the simplest gestures or games create the best giggles ever. Thankfully, though children develop interests outside their parents as they grow, this adoration phase lasts well into childhood. I think it makes parenthood just a tad bit easier.  It's also wonderful for capturing some of the best parts of family life. 

 Toddler peeking in on mom in shower by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
 Mom trying to brush toddler's teeth by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

It's these moments that you want to soak up and savor the most. The ones you want to remember on bad days and reminisce about when your babies are teenagers and adults. This time is one of my favorite times to document for families.

 Mom nursing toddler on couch at home by family photographer nicole sanchez
 Mom holding baby at window by northern virginia family photographer nicole sanchez

I last saw this little guy when he was about 9 weeks old. And it was so sweet to see how much he's grown in the last year.  We had planned for some outdoor water play, but the weather was unseasonably cool for July in Northern Virginia, so we had some play time in the backyard and a visit to the park instead. Kids are flexible at this age and especially so when they're in the comforts of their own home.

 mom and dad playing with toddler outside in northern virginia by nicole sanchez photography

Documentary sessions at home are one of the best ways to get great photos of toddlers.  They're most comfortable with you in your own environment and the session is scheduled around your usual routines (meals, nap times, bath time, etc.). I enjoy spending time chatting, playing, and getting to know my families during sessions allowing me to capture all the beauty, silliness, and, sometimes, chaos of real family life.

 mom and dad playing basketball with toddler at northern virginia park by 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 me today to start planning a custom photography experience that's perfect for your family.