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

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.

Summer Afternoon At Home Family Film | Washington, DC Family Photographer

I feel like I can't stop gushing about how wonderful video is for rounding out a documentary session.  Capturing the motion and sound of family life and turning it into a film has been a joy for me to add to my sessions this year.  From the fleeting details of babyhood to the hilarious antics of toddlers and beyond, video is perfect for preserving family life. Compiling clips and carefully setting them to music to tell a story that gives a glimpse into a family's everyday is like magic.  Watching it months or years from now instantly transports you back to that moment in time, bringing about memories and emotions already forgotten.  

Here is one of my favorite family films from early summer.  You can check out this sweet Washington, DC family's images from their session here.

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 guide to documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.

Relaxed Summer Session | Washington, DC Family Photographer

It's been a baby bonanza this summer. Besides my own littlest (who's going to be a year old this week!), I've gotten to photograph several other babes in their first year this summer in Washington DC and Northern Virginia. The first year is such a fun time as a parent, getting to watch baby's personality develop (and take guesses at which parent is responsible for specific character traits ;-) ).  It's also a time of learning to adjust to a new family dynamic - a whole new person with new and different needs and wants. Oh, and who happens not to communicate in easy to understand words yet.

Relaxed summer family session by Washington, DC Photographer Nicole Sanchez

One of the things I always marvel about over parenthood is our seemingly never-ending capacity to adapt. Less sleep. Less time. But we make room in our lives to love and nurture these little ones. Adaptability is just what we need. Especially as we learn that just when we think we have things figured out, our little one changes.

One of my favorite things about documentary family sessions with babies is embracing that adaptability and going with the flow. Maybe baby’s schedule is completely off track. Maybe you skipped a nap or are still finishing breakfast at noon.  Taking in the chaos in the context of this tiny human who's changing so fast you want to capture every minute of it is one of the best parts about documenting family life.

It may be hard to see it now, but what you're doing is meaningful and important. And hard work. Your kids may not remember this time. And considering your lack of sleep, you may not either. But these pictures of everyday life tell your family's stories. Of tender care and coming up with endless ways to entertain. Of elation and exhaustion.  It may seem like chaos.  Or maybe you're lucky and it seems just as smooth as you're planning it to be (If so, what is your secret??).  Either way, it's beautiful and it's love.  And you'll want to remember that.

Parents relaxing together after baby is asleep by Washington, DC Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Stay tuned later this week, I have a family film to share from this sweet session in Washington, DC.

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 guide to documenting your family's life with beautiful photographs.


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?

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