July Favorites | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I have a confession to share. I fell off my last 365. I stopped counting somewhere after 300 images. And even though I was so close to finishing, after completing one two years in a row, I don't feel so bad about it.  I do miss the daily challenge and the unique images that would result from the effort of shooting daily, but there's only so many hours in the day and only so much spare time in a week.  

I still shoot a few times a week and I appreciate the pressure that's been lifted in trying to keep up with editing daily images. I'm sure I'll get back to another 365 project eventually, but for now I'm enjoying the freedom of just picking up my camera when the urge strikes.

Starting this month, I'll be sharing my favorite images from the month. Or in this case, the first ten days of the month, since I haven't edited beyond July 10 yet. :-D

April 365 Project Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Looking back over my April 365 images makes me appreciate how fast life is changing.  A month ago, I was taking pictures of my youngest son pulling up for the first time.  Now he's starting to cruise and even try to stand unassisted.  These are small milestones among the bigger ones like crawling or walking and they tend to get forgotten as children grow and move on to even more milestones.  Looking back on these later, I likely won't remember exactly how old he was when he pulled up for the first time (judging from my memory with this brother!), but I do hope I'll remember the little moments of them interacting together and how, even though the baby has been standing for a month now, my oldest still exclaims, "Look, he's standing!" every time he sees it.

March 365 Project Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Despite a last minute resurgence of winter, spring seems to have finally arrived in Northern Virginia.  We are happy to be enjoying longer days and spending more time outside. As usual, many of my March 365 project images were taken in the morning.  I'd love to have a bit more variety, but I also adore these moments with my family and am glad to have captured them.

Want to learn how to document your own family's day-to-day?  Check out 4 Steps to Stop Time and Savor the Moment with Your Family.  It's a simple and fun plan for documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.

One Second Every Day - A 365 Video Project Guide | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Video is quickly becoming the the next greatest thing when it comes to documenting family life. Today's post is a special essay from Whitney Rowland, a fellow documentary photographer in Northern Virginia. When I met her around this time last year, she enthusiastically told me about her One Second Every Day (1SE) project, where she committed to documenting one second of her life for 365 days. When I saw the resulting compilation of her project later, I knew I'd ask her to share her experience and tips for others interested in preserving their everyday in a new way. A way that conveys the beautiful simplicity in life and elevates the mundane into meaningful. 

First, a bit about Whitney, in her own words:

I’m a Northern Virginia dweller who satisfies my wanderlust by eating delicious foreign foods whenever possible. I’m a teacher, yogi wannabe, and fan of stand-up comedy. I sometimes get fancy and use a Canon DSLR or Fuji mirrorless to photograph my life but most of the time you can find me playing with my iPhone and sharing bits and pieces on Instagram

And now, all about 1SE.

Hello readers! I am excited to be Nicole’s guest blogger today– especially because I am going to share with you all something I feel really passionate about: DOCUMENTING THE EVERYDAY! Oh, and wait… not just documenting but how to make preserving memories EASY. I mean, really really easy.

Sometimes it can feel like we spend just as much time documenting our life as we do actually living it. Between filters, cropping, and uploading our photos – it can become a chore. Most of us lead full and hectic lives that don’t leave a lot of room for capturing the everyday.

After my failed attempt at a 365 project (where I challenged myself to take a single photo every day for an entire year) I realized I needed a better way to document. Before owning an iPhone, I seemed to only capture photos of trips and holidays but I wanted more than a highlight reel - I craved an accurate representation of my life as a whole.

I wish I could look back and see times in my life such as my first year of marriage: hanging out together in our high rise apartment’s laundry room waiting for clothes to dry, ordering take out from our favorite Thai restaurant, celebrating weekends with our friends at bars in DC – the seemingly trivial parts of our life that were actually what the majority of our days were filled with. I’ve learned that no matter what phase, you will never get that time of your life back. Every day is significant and all moments matter. Each year is filled with changes and growth and it all happens so fast!

In 2016, I decided to start a new 365 project. I read an article about an app called One Second Everyday and it sounded like a fun project that would be little work on my end. I would be taking a video every day – which sounded much easier than a photo! No time wasted trying to make an interesting composition, capturing a perfect moment, or editing. I was also intrigued by the idea of showing movement.

The app looks like a calendar and lets you pull up your videos for each day. You choose which video you want, drag your finger to pick a single second, and just drop it in the calendar to save it to your project. The app keeps track of the date and organizes it – making it think-free. You just have to remember to grab a video each day – and the app even has a reminder feature to help with that too!

One Second Every Day 1SE Northern Virginia Family Photographer

The project takes minor dedication… seriously, you brush your teeth more often in a day than you need to whip out your phone and grab a video (and let’s be honest: you are using your phone more than twice a day anyway! Oh, and feel free to film yourself brushing your teeth if you forgot a video that day).

My tips for a successful 365 project:

  1. Start taking videos now. I started mine on January 1st but that doesn’t mean you need to! It is ALWAYS a good time to start documenting! If you absolutely need a distinct beginning and end to quell your OCD tendencies, try doing monthly projects that summarize a single month or make a project that starts on a special day such as your birthday or anniversary. But seriously. Just start now. You will not regret it!

  2. Pick a way to hold your phone while filming and stick with it. I choose horizontal because that is how our eyes see the world and it’s the way TV and computer screens are positioned. It also shows more environment in your footage. You can pick what you want - just don’t mix vertical and horizontal or else your video will look a little wonky.

  3. Mash your clips and watch your progress every so often. It will keep you motivated! I remember watching my January video and it gave me the enthusiasm to continue with the project!

  4. Don’t be shy about pulling out your phone. Just grab some video and get over it. Maybe someone will wonder why you are taking a video of your husband picking out paint at Home Depot but who cares.

  5. Go easy on yourself. You missed a day? So what. I missed a bunch of days in my 2016 and have probably missed even more in 2017. Try to get as many videos as you can and it will be awesome.

  6. Update your calendar every few weeks. You could do this every day if you want. I definitely don’t. In fact, I like to go a week or two because then I can make sure I have a good variety and not too many of the same thing.

  7. Try new perspectives. In a single video, you can try a variety of angles and then pick the one you like the best. Play around and have some different viewpoints across your videos – especially if you find yourself filming in the same places or the same things often. If your videos for a week are strictly of your 2 year old at the playground, try putting the phone on the ground and getting a view of from under the swing as you push him or just his feet as they come down the slide.

  8. Delete what you don’t need or want. Once you select your chosen second for the app, you can safely dispose of the video from your camera roll. Unless it’s a really meaningful video, don’t let it clutter your phone and take up precious space!

A lot of 1SE users have talked about the benefit of self-reflection with this project and that was something I didn’t expect when I started. Not only are you keeping memories alive, you have the opportunity to reflect on what you have experienced. I am physically able to see the things in life that mean the most to me and how they shape me as a person. Also, it’s just plain fun to watch and share with those you love. I can’t wait to show my son what our life looked like the year we found out he would make us a family!

I hope that you are inspired to use 1SE!

2016. The year I turned 30. The year Andrew and I made big life decisions. The year I had great adventures, played with tons of kids, laughed a lot with my friends, and loved my family: one amazing second at a time.

I hope you found Whitney's words as inspiring as I did.  Share your tips for 365 projects in the comments.  And if you're in need of additional 365 inspiration, check out my photo-a-day 365 tutorial.  

February 365 Project Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

February was a full month.  So full that I still have three days of it left to edit. :-) We returned from vacation and I've yet to really catch up, although I've made some peace with it.  It's hard not to be mellow about life when the weather in Northern Virginia has felt more like early summer than winter.  It's kind of felt like winning the lottery - or what I imagine winning the lottery might feel like.  You just don't question the good fortune.  :-) The cold isn't quite gone for good, but we've tasted enough hints of spring to keep me going for a few more weeks.

We spent as much time as we could outside enjoying the warmth and made it out to Mason Neck State Park in Lorton, Virginia.  The park has a trail right along the Potomac River and is one of our favorite places to visit in this area.  I'll share more about it in a post to come about great places to visit in the D.C. and Northern Virginia area.

Until then, I hope you'll enjoy seeing these favorites of mine from February. 

Check out my free guide 4 Steps to Stop Time and Savor the Moment with Your Family.  It's a simple and fun plan for documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.

January 365 Project Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

In looking over my 365 photos for January, I noticed a bit of a theme. Our family seems to stay in our pajamas a lot on the weekends. I'm okay with this. In fact, I kind of deem the day a success if I never get out of my pajamas. Maybe not every day, but, at least in the winter, we're kind of home bodies and it's nice to see how much I can get done before getting dressed. And I really enjoy capturing images of my son in his pjs. Soon enough, he'll be too old for dinosaur prints and cute catch phrases. There's something playful and innocent about a child in pajamas. It brings whimsy and imagination to whatever activity they're engaged in and it's fun to bring that to my pictures as well.

I can't believe we're already so far into February. The year has gotten under way with a flurry of activity, some planned and some unexpected.  Just when I think I have it all figured out, I'm reminded that life ebbs and flows.  Nothing really stays the same for too long. And while I can appreciate the excitement and lessons that change (or disruption) brings, I'm also appreciative of the value of downtime and days where I can stay in my pajamas and recharge.

We ended January outside Northern Virginia with a vacation at Disney World and I'm excited to share those photos in a later post (though I took a lot less than I planned!).  I've been pretty easy on myself with missed days in my 365 project lately, and I'm looking forward to some spring weather (is it too soon to be hopeful?) that brings a bit more motivation with all the new growth and longer days. 

How's your 365 project coming along? If you haven't started one or need some motivation, check out this post. And while you're at it, sign up for my newsletter below to receive tips for documenting the beauty in your family's every day.

December 365 Project Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Last month we enjoyed lots of time at home, but also had some adventures.  We had some unseasonably warm weather in Northern Virginia and made it out to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  I also swallowed my fear (!) and took my 3-year-old (and our baby too!) to the library.  One of my favorite places.  And to my delight, he loved it too.  The little one slept through the visit. :-)  I'm looking forward to going back.  

Many people have embarked on a new 365 photo project this January. Some for the first time. Some starting a second, or third, or __ project.  I still have about 100 days left in mine.  This is my third year doing a 365 project and I'll likely continue after a brief break.  I shared some of the lessons I learned and tips for completing a 365 here.  In December, I went easy on myself when I missed a day.  Although, this week I have renewed motivation for being more "on it."  

Looking through my favorites from December reminds me of why documenting our family's life and lifestyle is so important to me.  I want to have images to remind me of these everyday moments.  These quiet times for reading and snuggling.  These times of childhood magic and wonder and adventure.

One of the best things that a 365 project can do for your photography (aside from preserving moments for your family) is force you out of your comfort zone.  When you're struggling to find something interesting to take a picture of or it's the end of the day and there's no light left in your house, you have to get creative in making images.  Sometimes they're successful and sometimes not.  So this month, I'll be reminding myself of this when I realize I haven't picked up my camera and I'm tempted to just go to bed.  I look forward to sharing my results with you next month.

Have you started a 365 project this month?  What tips do you have for making it a fun experience?

If you'd like to receive more tips for documenting your family, please sign up for my newsletter below.

November 365 Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

We had much to be thankful for this November. But with the impending cold, shorter days, and the end of maternity leave, there were more than a few days this month that left me less than inspired to take pictures. I spent lots of time snuggling my boys and relishing the relatively care-free days before heading back to work. Here are my favorite images from this month.

I hope you have many reasons to be thankful this season.  I'm looking forward what December brings and especially to creating new traditions with my family. This will be the first year we're not traveling to visit family outside Northern Virginia.  Although we'll be missing or other family, it will be fun celebrate our first Christmas at home together.

Check out my original 365 post to learn more about doing a 365 project of your own.  You can start any time you like, but lots of people like to start on January 1, so you've got perfect timing!  Also, sign up for my newsletter below to receive tips on documenting your family and encouragement to get those images printed!

October 365 Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

October went by quickly, no surprise. In Northern Virginia, it's always a mix of warm, almost summer-like days, mixed with cooler ones with a hint of chill. We started to get a bit of color in the changing leaves, but it doesn't really kick in here until early November. So we embraced it and tried to make the most of the dwindling warmth and lingering light. And it makes for great trick-or-treating weather.

Learn more about 365 projects here.  And join my mailing list below to receive tips for documenting your family.

September 365 Faves | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

One of the many benefits to shooting a 365 project is that, even though time still flies (how is it fall already?!?), when I look back at the month's images, I feel as though I've preserved pieces of our life that I might have otherwise forgotten.  September was filled with sweet newborn details and quiet time spent enjoying maternity leave.  Time marches on (is that too cliche?) and as I strive to relish the present, I'm also grateful to have documented these moments to savor months and years from now.   

Here are my favorites from September. For tips for starting your own 365 project, check out my post on documenting the long term

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