Tips for celebrating the holidays in a new home - Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Our family moved to a new home in Alexandria in December. We've settled in nicely despite having a laundry list of things to be done. The move, especially coupled with the holidays, got me thinking a lot about family traditions and what makes a house home. It was clear amid the chaos and stress that what mattered most to the kids wasn't our things, but us. Making time to put the list aside and enjoy spending time together with no other agenda was sometimes hard, but it was all we really needed to feel at home. The holidays have passed and the list remains a mile long, but we have a ton of new memories and maybe a few new traditions as well.

I had a holiday session with this favorite family in Northern Virginia who were also celebrating their first holidays in a new home. I've documented pregnancy, newborn, and one year milestones with them and it was so nice to share in their latest, creating new traditions and celebrating old ones to mark their first holiday in their new home. That their extended family was there to share in the love was icing on the cake. Families come to life when little ones are involved and these little guys were the life of the party.

So, in honor of new homes and new traditions, here are a few tips for celebrating and documenting your family's holidays at home:

Let the kids take the lead.

Planning for a specific activity can be helpful, but being flexible about specific moments is key. As soon as your kids know you have something particular you want them to do, that's the very last thing they'll wasn't to do. The best images come from spontaneous interactions and activities they choose themselves. Like impromptu dance parties.

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Invite their favorite people.

Intimate family sessions are amazing. But if you have the opportunity to involve extended family, like grandparents and aunts or uncles. Kids will be most likely to act like themselves around adults that they're comfortable with and it's a wonderful way to highlight those special relationships that will be meaningful to them throughout their lives.

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Savor the small moments.

With a documentary session, there's no need to rush from one activity to another. Those in between moments when your little one comes in for a hug and a bit of rest are truly the sweetest.

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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.

Savoring the sweet with a Christmas family film | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Making family films is a joy. It's so sweet to see little moments in motion that aren't possible with still images. This is my own family's film from Christmas Day last year. It's amazing to watch and see how much my sons have grown and changed. I'm also grateful for the clips of the boys with my nephew who was visiting. And I'm especially happy for the glimpses of our dog who isn't with us this Christmas. :-(

This year brought many changes. Not least of which is Christmas in our new home. I'm excited to document the changes and excited for what the new year will bring. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 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 answer for fun and stress-free holiday photos that your family will treasure | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Holiday photo sessions that capture some of the magic of Christmas and the winter season are a popular choice for families. But dragging your kids out, all dressed up, for a studio or outdoor session (especially with the unpredictable weather in Northern Virginia) doesn't exactly bring on the holiday cheer. Here are a few reasons why documentary family sessions are the best way to capture unique and stress-free photos of your family's favorite holiday traditions.

Mom showing Christmas ornament to toddler
  1. You don't have to leave your house (or your PJs).

    Wake up, roll out of bed, and prep however you like. Family documentary sessions are laid-back. There's no rush to get out the door or into the car. No need to cajole your kids (or your spouse) into getting dressed. You can snack when you need. Nap when you need. Take a break when you need. No worries if your kid has a meltdown or you need to stop

  2. Family connections is strongest at home.

    Home is where you are most comfortable. Most able to be yourselves. And most connected to each other. Without the stresses of worrying about public behavior or restrictive timelines, your whole family can relax and just enjoy being together and doing whatever you find yourselves interested in that day. For a holiday session, incorporating family rituals is a great way to celebrate what makes the season memorable. Whether it’s decorating the tree or baking a family favorite recipe, think about traditions you remember from your own childhood and what you most want your children to remember from theirs.

  3. Memories from home are the foundation our children draw from for the rest of their lives.

    Holiday memories have a particular way of standing out more strongly in our hearts. Preserving them in photos where everyone can be present (and not behind a camera) is a wonderful way to highlight those things that matter to your family and that are the best parts of the holiday season. Being together, sharing love and laughter, and honoring old traditions and creating new ones.


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 preserve family traditions that your kids will remember forever | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Holiday memories are steeped in family traditions.

We take pictures of experiences that are meaningful to us. Places and people we want to remember. Lots of people have the fondest and strongest childhood memories around holidays. They stand out in our memories as more poignant because our recurring family traditions and rituals strengthen the memories over time. And also because we take pictures and videos of them. 

Family decorating for Christmas

It’s so much more than Christmas morning.

Most often, our Christmas photos are from Christmas morning, unwrapping gifts, or playing with new toys surrounded by scraps of discarded wrapping paper, a colorfully lit tree in the background. If we're lucky, there are a few images of our parents too. But rarely do these photos tell more of the story than what happens on Christmas day. This post is my call to take pictures of your family that go beyond the main event.

Family decorating Christmas tree together in Washington, DC

Traditions don’t just happen. We make them happen.

Now that I have kids, I appreciate all the effort my parents, and my mom especially, put into making Christmas a special time for us as kids. Decorating was especially fun. Each year taking out the tiny ceramic village with it's fake snow and lit up houses. Carefully taking out the individually wrapped glass ornaments and the growing assortment of hand made ones from school. And, as we got older, having wrapping parties in the floor passing scissors and tape back and forth whole watching cheesy hold movies. 

I know now that these traditions didn’t just happen. My parents made them happen. And by doing so they shared with us what was meaningful to them and what was valuable to our family.

Father and toddler baking for Christmas

Family photos and videos highlight the best of the holiday spirit.

It's the memories that stand out most for us that we're most likely to pass down to our own children as tradition. And that's why it's important to document more than just the unwrapping of gifts. Documenting this time with your children with photos or a family film is a special way to highlight the best of the holiday spirit. As we all know, it's not about the gifts on Christmas morning. It's about the thrill of anticipation, the magic and mystery, and most of all the joy and love of family. 

Traditions are how we highlight what matters.

Whether that's driving to the local farm to pick out a tree or baking holiday cookies to share with friends and neighbors, traditions are how we highlight what matters.  So this holiday season, document those rituals that are important to your family and preserve those values for your children and for generations to come.

P.S. I’m booking 2019 films and photo sessions now! Happy Holidays!

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.

Photographing Holiday Traditions | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I have a confession to make.  My oldest son is three and I have been woefully lazy about holiday celebrations in our house.  Until this year, we've visited family at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I had an excuse for not creating holiday traditions, because we were always traveling. 

But this year, that came to an end.  We're home for Christmas.  And it only hit me about two weeks ago that I haven't done much to celebrate what a magical time this can be for children. Enter mom guilt galore.  I have fond memories of all the decorations that my mom used to put up in our house and how we'd display on the mantle all the holiday cards we received from friends and family. Decorating the tree was a great trip down memory lane, because we'd use glass ornaments from my mom's childhood mixed in with ones my sister and I created every year at school. 

To be fair, we always have a tree (which I happily decorate with my son) and a few decorations around the house.  And thankfully, my husband loves Christmas lights, so he and my son had fun putting them up this year.  So I haven't had to start from scratch. But when it comes to other traditions - things I want my sons to to look back on fondly and consider hallmarks of the holidays - I have some work to do.  So this weekend, we'll be missing family, but I'm looking forward to celebrating with great neighbors and starting a new tradition of baking and decorating cookies with my son.  

For now, here are a few holiday images from our family so far.

I'd love to hear what your family's holiday traditions are.  What do you remember enjoying from childhood?  What fun things do you do with your kids?  If you need inspiration for documenting your family's holiday celebrations, check out these 25 ideas for Christmas pictures and this hands-free way to document Christmas morning and get yourself in the photos as well.

With any luck, I'll be back next year with some fancy traditions to share.  In the meantime, sign up for my email list below to receive tips for documenting your family.

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!