I avoided mini sessions for the longest time, preferring to stick with full-length family portrait sessions. I finally caved this year and began offering some 25-minute mini sessions at the Country Cove Christmas tree farm in Murfreesboro.
Reasons I didn’t want to offer Mini Sessions
I pride myself on capturing images of clients being relaxed and carefree. Sometimes that takes a while and I don’t like feeling rushed. I like to get to know families at a portrait session. I strive to take photographs that capture who they are and how they relate as a family at this point in their lives.
Sometimes, a child or teen, or an adult shows up at a session feeling apprehensive and self-conscious. Maybe a child feels shy at first. Or Dad has been conditioned by studio portraits to be flashing me an uncomfortable smile constantly. Maybe mom is super stressed because they were running late or someone spit-up on the drive over.
By after about 30 minutes of chatting, playing, and being goofy, I find that most people become relaxed and start acting more like themselves. Shy toddlers warm up to me. Dad gets it that I want him to play and interact with the kids. The stress has drained out of mom’s face as things seem to be going better than she expected. All this means that the second half of a one-hour session often holds my favorite images from a family portrait session.
Even more than that, a lot of my favorite images from photo sessions come after we are officially done. When we are chatting and strolling back to our cars. Often, this is when everyone lets their guard down and I notice something special and click a quick “last” photo that becomes one of my favorites. If I’m rushing from session to session, then this relaxed last photo doesn’t get to happen.
Why I decided to offer Mini Sessions Anyway
The biggest reason I decided to give in and offer mini sessions this year are because it had gotten to the point that I couldn’t handle October. Everyone wants photos in October and there are only so many hours in the day.
Mini sessions not only allow me to shoot the sessions in a shorter time, but also it cuts down on editing. I’m importing the photos all at once, culling them in one swipe, and blogging them all at once. Editing is the task I spend by far the most amount of time on. So while I still have to edit a lot of photos, the process is streamlined.
I’m able to shoot more clients and turn fewer people away during the fall portrait season. Also, I am able to offer them at a price that is easier on the client’s budget.
Mini Sessions are not for Everyone
I’ve decided that mini sessions work well for certain clients. Others should stick to full-size portrait sessions, at least at first. The four sessions I photographed this week give a good example of what kind of families are best suited to mini sessions. I will explain why each of them was a good fit.
Family of Three with toddler
Toddlers are my favorite. One of the reasons why they are my favorite is because they are so unpredictable and full of energy. I love that, but also it can mean it can take a while to get all the photos I’d like for a session. Nolan was full of energy at this session. But because it was just him, I feel like I was able to get enough photos that I’m happy with during the mini session. If there had been multiple children, I may have had a hard time getting the appropriate group shots in the short 25 minute time frame. I was able to focus primarily on him and didn’t have to divide my time between multiple kids. Also, I have worked with this family before, which helps a lot as I will discuss more below.
So a family of three is perfect for a mini session. Aren’t they the cutest? And I love the color of his shirt. Perfect.
Family well suited to being photographed
OK, I just hinted that mini sessions might not be the best if you have two young children. And now I’m showing you two young girls (ages 6 and 3) who knocked it out of the park. But they had a few advantages that I think helped. First of all, mom stated in her survey that the girls were pretty happy having their picture taken. I found that to be true.
Also, I had photographed this family before. One can argue that it doesn’t count because it was years ago when Rowan was just a toddler and Caroline had not been born. Clearly, the girls did not remember having a session with me. But the person who usually most benefits from knowing what to expect at a session is dad. James jumped right into this session being silly and playful and fun, and that makes all the difference in the world.
From now on if people have trouble decided what to wear for a session, I’m sending them to Elizabeth. ❤️
Family who has grown up with me as their photographer
This one was a no-brainer. When Margaret signed up for one of the mini-sessions I was immediately happy and knew it would be a great fit. I’ve photographed these two kids their entire lives, including Grayson’s birth. I have lost track of how many sessions that has been. There is no “get to know you” time needed. As always, we had a great time. Though I was sad it was only for 25 minutes.
Family with older kids / teens who I can relate to
This family had a definite advantage in that all the kids were old enough to stand and do whatever I told them to do. However, I wouldn’t automatically assume a min session is a good fit for teens or tweens. Some kids that age can take quite a bit of time to warm up to having their photo taken and may need the entire hour.
I had never met this family before really (other than maybe in passing at school events), but I felt a connection to them already. In the past few months, Leslie and I have become “internet friends”. We have a lot of common and are in some of the same groups. Because of the pandemic, we haven’t had the chance to get together and hang out in real life, but I do feel like I’ve gotten to know her a little. And my oldest daughter is friends with one of the boys and was in drama with him. I believe all that helps in having clients start to feel at ease at a session, and helps everyone to relax quicker than if we had no connection at all and they were meeting a complete stranger.