Are Mini Sessions Right for You? | Nashville Family Photographer

Crystal Freemon Photography Spring Hill TN Mini Sessions

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.


That’s the most words I’ve put into a blog post in a long time, but it was a four in one. I guess the big question is will I do min sessions again? Yes, I think I will, and now I will be able to point clients to this blog post to help them decide if mini sessions are a good fit for their family. Maybe I can offer them other times of the year as well. I’ve been thinking about summer sunflower field sessions maybe?

Are you following me on Instagram? That’s a great place to keep up to date on future openings. I have a couple spots left for my Holiday Family Mini Sessions. Or are you looking for a senior photographer? Either way, you can book a session directly from my online booking calendar, or contact me if you have questions.

Love and Portrait Sessions in the time of Coronavirus

Wow, what a week. I hope that you are all finding some peace, love and toilet paper in this time of coronavirus, and above all, staying safe and healthy.

I know you have already received emails from every business you’ve ever associated with on how they are handling things during this time of quarantine, so I’m going to refrain from sending emails on my thoughts. But I will outline them here in case you have a session coming up and are wondering what will happen.

For my portrait sessions, these are generally done in outdoor parks or in clients home where close contact with other people is minimum. I do plan to take extra care in changing the way I do sessions temporarily in that I will rely on my words to guide you into position rather than touching you or your children to move you into the position I would like. This goes for newborn photo sessions as well.

But, if for any reason you are uncomfortable proceeding with a session at this time, please know that I will allow you to reschedule for any date in the future. Please just shoot me an email and let me know and we can postpone your family portrait session until things have settled down.

I was happen to get out into the sunshine and photograph this beautiful family of four at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms in Franklin this week. Little Chase just turned two, which is my favorite age of children to photograph. Look at that adorable smile!

Extended Family Portrait Session at the Factory At Franklin

This is a family that I photograph pretty regularly, and I feel like they keep getting bad luck when it comes to session weather. I’ve shot a session for them in the rain. They had a session last year that was super hot, and then another where it was bitterly cold. They’ve been troopers through every single session and handled it beautifully each time. But it stinks because I generally feel like the weather cooperates for almost all my sessions – even late winter ones, but this one family keeps taking all the hits.

So of course, yesterday, when I arrived at the Park at Harlinsdale Farms where we were supposed to shoot, it felt WAYYY colder than the 54 degrees my phone said that it was. Then five minutes later my phone read 48 degrees. That’s still generally reasonable for a winter photo session, but the wind was so bitingly cold. I was worried that it would be way too uncomfortable to have fun and enjoy the session.

So when Kate showed up and asked if we could try to move the session to the Factory at Franklin, I completely agreed. I wasn’t sure we’d be able to, as the Factory charges a permit fee and I’d always booked it in advance. But the man at the front desk was nice enough to let us get the permit immediately so we were able to move the portrait session indoors, which was so much better than dealing with the bitter wind.

We were also able to slip outside for brief periods before coming back inside to get warm, and there is this nice corridor that was mostly protected from the wind. So all in all, it worked out well. But I still hope that next time they get a nice pleasant, mild day….it’s their turn.

What it’s really like photographing preschool children – Spring Hill TN Family Photographer

Photographing young children is something that I do regularly. If I had to choose one genre or age group of photographs to take, it would be families with pre-school age children for sure. It’s where I am most comfortable. It’s the age group that I am most passionate about shooting (though I still love taking pictures of people of all ages).

I have to remind myself that my clients do not do this regularly. This might be the first time they’ve been to a photo session like mine, and at the very least, it’s the first time they’ve done family photos with a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old (or whatever the case may be.)

Because of that, I try to reassure my clients throughout a session that this is normal. I swear. Listen, photo sessions with multiple pre-school age children is by nature, a little bit of organized chaos. One client I had once called it a beautiful mess, and I love that term. Your kids are doing great. Really, they are.  

I think one thing that makes parents nervous is when I start asking small children to do things, and maybe (probably) they don’t do what I ask. Please believe me when I tell you that I have NEVER met a two-year-old who did everything I asked. Never. Expecting them to follow all my instructions is not age-appropriate or realistic. Also, it doesn’t bother me one bit if they aren’t interested in something I suggest. 

There are three main reasons it doesn’t bother me:

  1.  I have LOTS of tricks up my sleeve. Some kids like racing, some like flying, or Ring around the Roses. Some want to talk. Quite a few like to talk about farts (though I let them initiate that in case mom and dad don’t approve). Others want to interact only with mommy and daddy. That’s all OK.  
  2. I take a LOT of photos. I will delete tons, particularly at a session with small children. But I’m always left with plenty of keepers. 
  3. The only thing I want from your kids is for them to be authentic. Two-year-olds don’t know any other way to be, so whatever happens, we are winning. 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes an image doesn’t tell the whole story. Today I want to talk through what happens at pretty much every session with small children ever, using photos from a family portrait session. So you can read what was happening in real life, and see the resulting image. I’m hoping this will prevent any future anxiety when you think “my kids aren’t cooperating.” I promise you; they are doing exactly what I want them to do.  

Me: “You wanna sit on this crate together?” *Baby sister sits down for 2 milliseconds then jumps up to play*. Result: I got it. It only takes a millisecond.
Me: “Very gently, hug your sister. Result: Close enough. 🙂
Me: “Wanna go sit on the blanket?” Toddler: “Shhhh, we are looking for squirrels.” Result: I love a girl who knows what she wants. She’s perfection.
Me: “Sit in mommy and daddy’s lap and I’ll give you a sucker. Result: Suckers always work.
Mom: “Take a big lick of your sucker, like this.” Toddler: Licks imaginary sucker like mom did, instead of actual sucker in her other hand. Result: Hilarious.
Me: “Hold hands.” Result: The third time’s a charm.
Me: “Show me how you dance.” Result: These kids are flipping fantastic.
Me: “Give your sister a kiss on the cheek.” Result: Well, kiss…lick, same thing.”

So as you can see, these two beautiful sweet girls did an amazing job. They did exactly what I wanted them to do….to be wild and free and full of wonder. Because that’s the way it should be. Here are a few more photos from their session.

How to Prep your husband for a Family Portrait Session

When many moms come to me to book a family portrait session, their first concern is if their young children will “behave” for a portrait session. I want to make a deal with you….if you properly prepare your husband or significant other for the portrait session, then I promise I will handle the children. (Also, “behaving” is overrated. I want your babies to be wild and free and real.)  

Things Dads Misunderstand About a Portrait Session:

Think about it for a minute: generally, 100% of my interactions before a portrait session have been with Mom.  (This isn’t ALWAYS the case. I have had dads do the booking, but usually it’s mom.) It’s likely that mom was the one following me on social media, and mom was the one who picked me.  Dad’s probably not read my blog.  He’s also not the one reading all the emails from me preparing you for what to expect at the session.  

Dad may have no idea about my candid style, or the fact that a photo session with me is meant to be playful and fun.  Maybe, in his head, he’s expecting the studio type portrait session of his youth, where everyone had to stand at attention on a tiny black dot and stare unblinkingly at the camera. 

Another misconception dads sometimes have is that we are trying to get “one good picture.”  I try to get what I refer to as the “Grandma shot” early in the session.  That’s the one where everyone is looking at the camera and smiling. It’s the one to send to Grandma…the more traditional look.  But my real goal is to get you a gallery FULL of beautiful, candid images of your family that showcase their personalities and their love for each other.  That takes more than 5 minutes.  

Things Dads do wrong because they aren’t informed:

It’s not their fault.  They are trying to help. But because they don’t know what to expect, or what the desired outcome is, they aren’t being as helpful as they could be.  Here are some things they do because they don’t know better:

  • Telling the kids to “hurry up and behave and we will get this over faster.”  (First, this is gonna be fun.  We don’t want to behave as if it’s a chore.  Also, we want to get lots of fun and candid images.  This is not over after the first good photo.)
  • Telling the kids to “stop goofing off.”  (Sometimes, I’m encouraging them to be goofy because it helps them relax and be real. Don’t worry, not all the images I give you will include that silly monster face.)
  • Staring at my camera the entire session with a clenched teeth smile that clearly says “my wife made me do this.”  

What I want from Dads to make the Photo Session a Success:

Relax.  Be silly.  Play games.  Have tickle fights.  Spin the kids around in circles.  Wrestle.  Tell dad jokes. Kiss your wife.  Hold hands.  Throw the baby in the air (safely).  Misbehave.  

How you can help prepare dad for the photo session:

The biggest thing you can do before a session to make it successful is just to let dad know what to expect.  Make sure he knows it will take about an hour, that we want lots of fun candid images, and that we aren’t trying to get studio-like posed portraits.  Before each session, I send out an email on how parents can help make a portrait session successful.  Share that with dad so he knows what to expect too.  You can even show him the type of photos that you love from my family portfolio so he understands that not every photo needs to be of everyone smiling and looking at the camera.  If dad is informed and knows what to expect, then he can help make the session fun and memorable, which is exactly what we want.

A perfect example:

I chose this session to talk about how to prep dads for family photos, because I think Brian has always done exactly what i wanted him to do at sessions.  I’ve been photographing these two amazing kids since Grayson was in the womb and I shot a maternity session for their family. These kids embody everything I love about photographing young children, and I often have written about how easy it is to photograph them.

But one thing that makes it so easy to photograph them, is that their parents behave exactly the way I want parents to behave at a session. They don’t stress and let the session unfold naturally. They play and interact with the kids, and encourage silliness.

My case in point: Grayson’s pants were a little big around the waist and were sagging down. Brian made a joke that Grayson needed to keep his “booty in his pants.” That somehow evolved into a little silly song that Grayson and Alys both thought was hilarious. It kept him giggling for half the session.

Yes!! That’s the way it should be. That’s what I need from all my dads out there…less telling the kids to “behave” and more “keep your booty in your pants.”