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.

Three reasons you should photograph your family's traditions | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I spent a beautiful morning recently with this mom and her 8 month old son at Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia. We walked on the trail along the Potomac River and by the Jones Point Lighthouse, chatted about motherhood, and took a rest and some pictures before heading back to their house to photograph their weekend pancake ritual.

Mom and baby sitting by Potomac River at Jones Point Park in Alexandria, Virginia
Mother and baby son on blanket by Woodrow Wilson Bridge at Jones Point Park in Alexandria, VA

My family has been visiting this park since my oldest son was a baby and as I documented this morning with this mom and baby, I thought about the importance of family traditions and how they enrich our lives and our children's. Here are three reasons why you should celebrate and photograph your family's traditions.

Mom and son on Potomac River bank at Jones Point Park in Northern Virginia

Traditions make up a part of our identity. 

Family traditions tend to get their start in baby's first year. There are naturally lots of firsts, especially around holidays and growth milestones. But long term traditions get their start in the first year too. Parents start to find their footing, develop confidence, and routines emerge that make life more manageable.

Mother feeding baby a strawberry in Northern Virginia kitchen

If you're a mom, you're well aware of how rituals and routines are so important to kids (and your sanity). But they also provide a sense of identity and teach children about their family and their culture. These routines may be simple like bedtime reading and snuggles or family dinners around the table.  These everyday activities make up the foundation that your kids ground their lives in and they are worthy of celebrating.

Mom making silly faces with son in high chair in Alexandria, VA kitchen

They teach us something about what's important in life. 

Some traditions are passed on from prior generations, like favorite recipes or summer vacations at the beach.  Some come about organically and contribute to making life run smoothly, like Saturday morning grocery trips and a visit to the playground.  Whether old or new, traditions are always the result of you, as a parent, making a choice to highlight something that's important, something that honors your family and your love for each other and the life you're building. 

Mom feeding baby homemade pancakes at home in Northern Virginia
Baby smushing and eating pancakes at home in Alexandria, VA

This time is fleeting.

I don't need to tell you how fast time is flying.  Those stages that feel like they're going to last forever, like nursing in bed before nap time or weekend walks around the neighborhood, are going to pass all too soon.  Our kids grow so quickly and are always changing.  Sometimes our rituals and traditions change too.  Sometimes our kids are too young to remember them, which makes photographing these stories all the more important.  Paging through a photo album with your kids and sharing these memories reminds them of how special they are to you and further solidifies that foundation that they are grounding their lives in.

Mother nursing baby from above over shoulder at home in Northern Virginia
Mother and son snuggling in bed before nap time at home in Alexandria, VA
Baby toes in bed snuggling with mom in Northern Virginia

I love hearing about other families' rituals and I especially love photographing them because I know that these memories with their parents are the ones that kids are going to look back on fondly. And someday their own children will too. 

Mom kissing baby's head while snuggling in bed at home in Northern Virginia

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.

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.

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.