Family films are the modern photo album | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

My family is my guinea pig when it comes to testing out new camera techniques and equipment. This has always been the case with photography and is equally true for videography. This summer, I got an underwater bag for my DSLR and had a blast documenting my family at the pool and at the beach. We ventured out of Northern Virginia in July for a family vacation and I started planning for this film the moment I knew we were going. I'm so excited to share it this week!

Each time I complete one of these films for my clients or my own family, I'm struck by what a moving experience it is. I love seeing my children flipping through the pages of the countless photo albums we have, but I've fallen way behind on yearly photo books. I've found that these films say more in 3-4 minutes than hundreds of printed photos can over the course of a year (especially if I'm not even printing them!). Movement, sound, and music convey so much emotion and story. I'm convinced that these family films are our modern day photo albums.

What will our children remember most from this time in their lives?

I've made taking video and making films a priority for vacations and trips to visit with family. My husband has films of himself from childhood and I'm a bit jealous. Childhood is a fleeting time in our lives but memories of events from that time make up a significant portion of our sense of self for the rest of our lives. Thinking about this and wondering what moments of our everyday lives our children are going to remember for the rest of theirs has given me incentive to invest more time in making personal family films for my family and for my clients. 

Films capture childhood characteristics, interests, and events in snippets that can be put in the context of the broader story of our family's life. Films provide a resource for our children and a glimpse into their history that would otherwise be lost, or at the very least subject to the subjectiveness of memory only.

Film captures the feeling of a moment.

With film, you get the sights and sounds and the feeling of what it was like to be in that moment when you were two or four and experiencing your family's beach vacation. You're dropped into that moment in time in a way that a still photo just can't evoke. I love seeing my kids flip through their photo albums and I will continue to make them (though I may never get caught up!). But seeing their reactions as they watch themselves in clips taken six months or a year ago is just priceless. Even they marvel at how much they’ve changed.

I also experimented with drone footage this summer and can’t wait to share that in a future film.

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.

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 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.

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.


A Spring Family Film | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I'm excited to share this family film and the news that I'll be updating my package options soon to incorporate the addition of family films!  It's been a labor of love and growth over the past year+ to learn the art of video, crafting clips into films, and how best to weave that into my documentary family photography sessions.  

I fell in love with documentary style because of the natural way it elevates the beauty and meaningfulness of everyday life.  Looking at images of real, everyday moments with our family reminds us how sweet and fleeting this time is.  It's a visual reminder that what we do matters, even the seemingly mundane daily tasks that make life happen and keep our little people alive. ;-) 

The movement and sound of video adds another layer of emotional connection to the documentary experience.  Seeing your life in motion, hearing your child's sweet voice (and the adorable way she says "Dada") is incomparable to memories that fade and even photos that present only a static visual reminder. 

That's why, for me, creating family films is a perfect marriage with photographs.  You can't print a film and put it on your wall or flip your fingers through its pages of moments.  A film is another piece in the gallery of your family's story.  It's another way to share this glimpse of your family's life in this season for yourself, your children, and future generations.  

Not to belabor the point, but the future generations part is something that really excites me. As a daughter of our family's genealogist, I would have found my family's history much more interesting if I could actually see it.  Even with old pictures as a visual insight, I found myself wondering, "What were they really like? What did they do all day?" That question of what daily life is like is one that anthropologists spend their careers seeking answers for.  

So I'm going to make it easy for future generations to answer this question for my family (assuming the zombie apocalypse doesn't wipe out computers and cloud storage) and hope that this insight into our family's everyday will give them a fun glimpse of where and who they come from. 

I hope you enjoy this fun film with this sweet family.

One Second Every Day - A 365 Video Project Guide | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

Video is quickly becoming the the next greatest thing when it comes to documenting family life. Today's post is a special essay from Whitney Rowland, a fellow documentary photographer in Northern Virginia. When I met her around this time last year, she enthusiastically told me about her One Second Every Day (1SE) project, where she committed to documenting one second of her life for 365 days. When I saw the resulting compilation of her project later, I knew I'd ask her to share her experience and tips for others interested in preserving their everyday in a new way. A way that conveys the beautiful simplicity in life and elevates the mundane into meaningful. 

First, a bit about Whitney, in her own words:

I’m a Northern Virginia dweller who satisfies my wanderlust by eating delicious foreign foods whenever possible. I’m a teacher, yogi wannabe, and fan of stand-up comedy. I sometimes get fancy and use a Canon DSLR or Fuji mirrorless to photograph my life but most of the time you can find me playing with my iPhone and sharing bits and pieces on Instagram

And now, all about 1SE.

Hello readers! I am excited to be Nicole’s guest blogger today– especially because I am going to share with you all something I feel really passionate about: DOCUMENTING THE EVERYDAY! Oh, and wait… not just documenting but how to make preserving memories EASY. I mean, really really easy.

Sometimes it can feel like we spend just as much time documenting our life as we do actually living it. Between filters, cropping, and uploading our photos – it can become a chore. Most of us lead full and hectic lives that don’t leave a lot of room for capturing the everyday.

After my failed attempt at a 365 project (where I challenged myself to take a single photo every day for an entire year) I realized I needed a better way to document. Before owning an iPhone, I seemed to only capture photos of trips and holidays but I wanted more than a highlight reel - I craved an accurate representation of my life as a whole.

I wish I could look back and see times in my life such as my first year of marriage: hanging out together in our high rise apartment’s laundry room waiting for clothes to dry, ordering take out from our favorite Thai restaurant, celebrating weekends with our friends at bars in DC – the seemingly trivial parts of our life that were actually what the majority of our days were filled with. I’ve learned that no matter what phase, you will never get that time of your life back. Every day is significant and all moments matter. Each year is filled with changes and growth and it all happens so fast!

In 2016, I decided to start a new 365 project. I read an article about an app called One Second Everyday and it sounded like a fun project that would be little work on my end. I would be taking a video every day – which sounded much easier than a photo! No time wasted trying to make an interesting composition, capturing a perfect moment, or editing. I was also intrigued by the idea of showing movement.

The app looks like a calendar and lets you pull up your videos for each day. You choose which video you want, drag your finger to pick a single second, and just drop it in the calendar to save it to your project. The app keeps track of the date and organizes it – making it think-free. You just have to remember to grab a video each day – and the app even has a reminder feature to help with that too!

One Second Every Day 1SE Northern Virginia Family Photographer

The project takes minor dedication… seriously, you brush your teeth more often in a day than you need to whip out your phone and grab a video (and let’s be honest: you are using your phone more than twice a day anyway! Oh, and feel free to film yourself brushing your teeth if you forgot a video that day).

My tips for a successful 365 project:

  1. Start taking videos now. I started mine on January 1st but that doesn’t mean you need to! It is ALWAYS a good time to start documenting! If you absolutely need a distinct beginning and end to quell your OCD tendencies, try doing monthly projects that summarize a single month or make a project that starts on a special day such as your birthday or anniversary. But seriously. Just start now. You will not regret it!

  2. Pick a way to hold your phone while filming and stick with it. I choose horizontal because that is how our eyes see the world and it’s the way TV and computer screens are positioned. It also shows more environment in your footage. You can pick what you want - just don’t mix vertical and horizontal or else your video will look a little wonky.

  3. Mash your clips and watch your progress every so often. It will keep you motivated! I remember watching my January video and it gave me the enthusiasm to continue with the project!

  4. Don’t be shy about pulling out your phone. Just grab some video and get over it. Maybe someone will wonder why you are taking a video of your husband picking out paint at Home Depot but who cares.

  5. Go easy on yourself. You missed a day? So what. I missed a bunch of days in my 2016 and have probably missed even more in 2017. Try to get as many videos as you can and it will be awesome.

  6. Update your calendar every few weeks. You could do this every day if you want. I definitely don’t. In fact, I like to go a week or two because then I can make sure I have a good variety and not too many of the same thing.

  7. Try new perspectives. In a single video, you can try a variety of angles and then pick the one you like the best. Play around and have some different viewpoints across your videos – especially if you find yourself filming in the same places or the same things often. If your videos for a week are strictly of your 2 year old at the playground, try putting the phone on the ground and getting a view of from under the swing as you push him or just his feet as they come down the slide.

  8. Delete what you don’t need or want. Once you select your chosen second for the app, you can safely dispose of the video from your camera roll. Unless it’s a really meaningful video, don’t let it clutter your phone and take up precious space!

A lot of 1SE users have talked about the benefit of self-reflection with this project and that was something I didn’t expect when I started. Not only are you keeping memories alive, you have the opportunity to reflect on what you have experienced. I am physically able to see the things in life that mean the most to me and how they shape me as a person. Also, it’s just plain fun to watch and share with those you love. I can’t wait to show my son what our life looked like the year we found out he would make us a family!

I hope that you are inspired to use 1SE!

2016. The year I turned 30. The year Andrew and I made big life decisions. The year I had great adventures, played with tons of kids, laughed a lot with my friends, and loved my family: one amazing second at a time.

I hope you found Whitney's words as inspiring as I did.  Share your tips for 365 projects in the comments.  And if you're in need of additional 365 inspiration, check out my photo-a-day 365 tutorial.