A new mom on why a newborn photography session is a must | Northern Virginia Newborn & Family Photographer

Meeting new families is one of my favorite things about being a photographer. Developing relationships with families and documenting their family's growth over time is icing on the cake. I caught up with this family, who just welcomed their third little one, for a newborn family film at home. I could gush about newborn details, nursing, naps, and sibling love for days, but instead, I'll leave you with some words straight from this Mama on why she chose to have a newborn family film session, even amidst the craziness of adjusting to life with a new baby.

In the early days with a newborn, it’s oftentimes just a matter of survival day in and day out. And it’s normal to want to get through it before thinking about taking pictures and videos. But it’s so important and priceless to capture those early days. And working with Nicole gave me so much peace of mind. It felt like I was just inviting a good friend over for coffee. We didn’t fuss over what we were wearing or how the house looked. My kids were relaxed and being their unpredictable selves. And she was able to capture so much of what I cherish the most about these early days — the mundane moments that I know will be most precious to me years from now.
— S., Mom of three

They're only this little once. Between sleep deprivation, the other details of life, and time just flying, don't let those early days go by without preserving them! For more from this beautiful family, check out “Three reasons to have your newborn session at home.” And for a trip down memory lane, see how much has changed since our first session in northern Virginia a couple of years ago.

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 have your newborn session at home with siblings | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Whether you're a first-time parent or bringing home your third baby, time is somehow warped during those first few newborn weeks. This is one of the reasons I love newborn sessions at home. With a new baby, and especially if you have other little ones at home, there's no time for anything but the essentials. It may sound stressful, and it sometimes is, but there's something freeing about just giving up all the extraneous things that are pulling at you and focusing only on what matters. 

Toddler boy sleeping on Dad’s shoulder while Mom takes shoes off by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Eventually life has to pull you back in because other things do need to happen, like dentist appointments and oil changes, but for a few short weeks, you have every excuse in the world to tune it all out and just soak up your baby. Or all of your babies. So here are three of my favorite reasons to have your newborn photo session at home. And bonus alert: this was a film session, so I'll be sharing this family's sweet film soon.

  1. Sessions at home are best for kids.

    Introducing a new person with a camera to your kids is enough fun all on its own. Packing up the family and dragging them to another location for photos is a recipe for stress for everyone, especially with a newborn who needs to eat and be changed often. Kids hate being rushed and generally do the opposite of what you’re hoping for when they feel pressured. Having a session at home is immediately more relaxed. Kids are more comfortable and more likely to be themselves, which is exactly what you want captured in family photos.

    Family documentary sessions at home are flexible and made to suit your schedule. Kids need a snack? Great! Baby (or Dad) needs to nap? No problem. Daily rituals like meal times or snuggles or activities like baking or playing a silly game that you made up together are the bread and butter of family sessions. These are the real moments where you’re building connections with your children that will last a lifetime. No coaxing or cajoling necessary.

  2. Home is center of family life.

    Because home is the centerpiece of all that happens in your family’s life, it’s the best place to document the things that matter to your family right now. Whether it's a raucous game of Uno, seasonal crafts at the kitchen table, or sharing a love for baking treats, it’s what you do in your home that makes your family unlike any other. It’s the place you feel safest and most loved. These are the strongest memories that you and your kids will have from this short time in your lives. And it’s amazing to look back on these photos and see how life changes. What seems like a stage that will never end actually does someday to be replaced by something else. These stages come and go throughout childhood and can be easily forgotten if not documented.

  3. Home is part of your family’s legacy.

    I’ve written a lot about the importance of printing your family’s photos. When these photos feature your home, they become an even greater part of your family’s legacy and your children’s emotional foundation. Your home gives insights into who you are and what is important to you. When children see tangible photos in your home that highlight ordinary but beautiful everyday moments, they receive the message that they are important, family is important, and home is important. And that what they do every day matters.

Mirror reflection of family with newborn at home 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 Nicole 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.

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.

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.

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. 
 

Documenting Change - In-home Newborn Session | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Those first days and weeks at home with a new baby are especially sweet. They may also be a blur due to lack of sleep, so documenting them can be helpful in that regard. ;-)  A new baby is a big change for parents, even if they've done it before. For older siblings it can be the most momentous change they've experienced in their whole life.  This little guy had been home about two weeks when I visited his family in Northern Virginia. 

In-home newborn session of Family members each doing their own thing by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Though every family is different, there are some fairly common experiences that come with parenthood and childhood.  One of them is the transition from three to four.  

Father and son cooking breakfast in home by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez
Boy showing off his muscle at family breakfast by Northern Virginia Photographer Nicole Sanchez

When I was pregnant with my younger son, even though my older son was very affectionate with my belly and interested in the baby that was growing inside, I still worried that bringing a new baby into our family might traumatize him somehow.  It probably did on some level, but he seems okay anyway. ;-)

Young boy heading out for walk with pet dog and mom with baby in Northern Virginia by Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

Children's responses to a new family member vary, but they are amazing at adjusting to change and it's amazing to watch them interact with their new sibling. The bond siblings share is different than their bond with parents and it's one, as parents, we hope will be forged in childhood and last a lifetime.

Parents waiting for boy Boy sitting in road on scooter by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

During a newborn session it might seem that the primary focus would always be on the baby, but I try to feature each family member and capture a glimpse of their role in the new family dynamic. Older children are learning to navigate life with a little less input from parents, new babies are simply adjusting to life outside the womb, and parents are on a moving spectrum of totally rocking it and just holding on for dear life. :-) 

Boy running away from crying baby by Northern Virginia Family Photographer Nicole Sanchez

It's a mix of lots of love and a bit of chaos.  And documenting those early interactions and moments of adjustment make looking back on this time a little easier and that much sweeter.  


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.

Five Tips for Documenting Your Newborn | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I've always been interested in photography, but I finally decided to learn how to use my camera when I wanted to take pretty photos of my first-born son. After he was born, I found myself wishing I had hired a photographer to capture all those cute newborn details and squishy newborn poses. I tried (and failed!) to get the Pinterest-worthy baby pictures (although I have a ton of baby pictures I wouldn't trade for the world). 

I've had a lot of practice since then, and while I did hire a photographer to document our birth and time at the hospital this time around, I couldn't hire a photographer to live with us for the first month, so during my pregnancy, I made note of the ways I could document the newborn phase myself.  

Here are a few tips based on my experience:

1. Details - My photography interests and style have changed from traditional posed portraits to candid, documentary and lifestyle images, but capturing details is still a must.  Who doesn't swoon over baby toes? :-) But details go beyond baby toes and fingers. It's important to give attention to moments when you feel that little pang of sentimentality - when you know you're seeing something you will want to remember. Something that will be brief and forgotten if you don't capture it. Which brings me to my next tip.  

Documenting Newborn Details | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

2.  Pay Attention to Moments - While the images above are indeed of details, the idea of paying attention to detail is important across all the images in this post. Determining which moments are important to you and making note (literally sometimes, in my case - hello, Evernote) if you aren't able to photograph a moment right away, is key to documenting this time in a meaningful way.  I'll talk more about planning for images in a follow-up post on getting in the picture with your baby.

3. Go with the baby flow - Figuring out your baby is one of the earliest tasks of parenting and it isn't suspended while you're trying to get through your own personal photo shoot.  If your baby (or you!) just isn't feeling it, try again later.  It's helpful to make note of good areas of light in your house and when to find the best light in each area.  That way when you and baby are ready, you know where to go.

4. Happy and not - Not every moment is an easy one.  It wouldn't be parenthood without some stressful moments.  Own it.  Someday you'll look back on those moments and feel strength for having come through them.  It's part of the beauty of motherhood, so try to capture that in your images.

Crying, unhappy baby | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

5. Remember family (but don't stress about it) - We were lucky to have many grandparents come to meet our new son and I knew I wanted to capture those special moments of them with our son. Especially in those early days, it was hard to balance caring for a new baby, engaging with family, and photographing it all at the same time.  So I made peace with the realization that I could not capture everything.  It's more important to just be present and take some down time to rest while others are there to help.  So put the camera down sometimes (or hand it over to someone else!) and don't feel bad about not capturing every moment.  

Newborn with Grandparents | Northern Virginia Documentary Photographer

Another note on the family front, I found it so hard to document moments of my 3 year old and newborn together. For one, 3 year olds move fast.  And while newborns do not move so fast, when you're behind the camera your reflexes aren't so great. So it was hard to think about all the usual composition aspects and camera settings while simultaneously protecting my newborn from his big brother's love. I didn't get many of these, but that's one benefit to the newborn phase - they grow quickly and become less fragile. :-)

Newborn with brother | Northern Virginia Lifestyle Photographer

Finally, I can't leave off without saying it: get in the frame. I'll share more tips in a later post about how to get in the picture with your baby, but for now, here's one of my favorites from the early days. 

Self-portrait with baby | Northern Virginia Lifestyle Photographer

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