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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

The secret to a relaxed newborn session with two children | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

What's the secret to a stress-free newborn photography session at home with an older sibling? It's the secret to just about everything in life that involves children. Just take it easy. The moment you plan something is the moment one kid or the other will decide to do something completely out of the ordinary to throw you a curveball. It's Murphy's Law.  The bane of parents' existence, but it can make for a great session.

mom reaching out to toddler while holding baby by northern virginia family photographer nicole sanchez

Children can easily sense when we're stressed. Even newborns. If often will make them more clingy (and whiny).  So if you're worried about everything going perfectly, that's a surefire way to ensure it will not. I'll go even further and say perfect isn't what you want anyway. Life with kids is messy and chaotic. Documenting it as it is, sweet and difficult moments alike, is where the goodness lies. That's where the moments we capture together will be ones you and your children look back on and remember, “that's how our life was.” And it was awesome.

I shared images from my in home maternity session with this Northern Virginia family just a few weeks ago. It was a joy to witness a bit of their journey to becoming a family of four.

father admiring baby son by northern virginia newborn photographer nicole sanchez

The early days of life with a newborn can be a bit of a blur. Between lack of sleep and and seemingly endless routine of feeding and diaper changes and naps, the days may seem slow but they add up so quickly.  Before you know it weeks and months have gone by. So it's especially sweet for me to document those very first days, freezing moments that may otherwise be forgotten in the early days parenting haze.

brothers playing together with parents in northern virginia nursery by nicole sanchez photography

Those days are extra sweet with an older sibling, though they're perhaps a little more chaotic. Nursing sessions are likely less quiet and relaxed and there's an almost constant need to enforce boundaries as a toddler learns the concept of gentle. On top of being exhausted, you've still got to come up with endless ways of entertaining an older sibling and helping them understand their new role as an older brother or sister.

toddler jumping on crib bed while mom holds baby in northern virginia by family photographer nicole sanchez

It's a time of adjustment to a new family dynamic. There are new roles and expectations and some falling back into old rhythms. There's a lot of remembering what life was like the first time around and noting what's new the second time. It is hard and sweet. And so special to photograph.  But I'm probably biased. :-)  

big brother watching mother swaddle baby brother by northern virginia family photographer nicole sanchez

Interested in an in-home newborn session?  Contact me today to learn more about a documentary session for your family.