Mini Sessions: Why or Why Not for Family Photos

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Mini Sessions why or why not, Issaquah Family Photographer, North Bend, Neyssa Lee Photography,  Family hug photo, Lifestyle family photography

Are mini sessions right for your family? Many parents would argue that the idea of a “quick” photo session is all they need. It makes sense, right? Less time for kids to get crazy.

However, as a Seattle family photographer, I believe that mini sessions are not for most families. Before you stop reading and thinking, ” She’s wrong “, I urge you to keep ready before deciding where your family fits in.

I offered mini sessions for many years early in my business. With experience, I have seen firsthand how much better regular family sessions are for most families.


Keep on reading to discover why.

Mini Sessions can be more stressful for parents and kids.

Mini Sessions why or why not, Issaquah Family Photographer, North Bend, Neyssa Lee Photography,  Photo of mother hugging daughter

By definition a mini session is a limited amount of time. Whether you have 10 minutes or 20 minutes, you feel that clock ticking and want to make the most of every second. Instead of relaxing and just being with your family, moms are often focused on the clock or on how things are going with time running out. Kids can feel that pressure too, when mom’s stressed, so are the kids, and it will all show.

By comparison, a regular family session has no set time limit. While they naturally last 45 minutes to an hour, there isn’t that looming sense of urgency to get “all the photos” done quickly.

There is no time pressure felt during a mini session.

Mini Sessions are not for shy kids or busy toddlers.

The biggest excuse I hear from parents about their reasoning for needing a mini session is that their child has a short attention span for photos.

Hello! They are kids, of course, they have a short attention span for photos. Let’s be honest, my own husband has a short attention span for photos. My approach to family photos is not asking your child to sit and “perform” or smile perfectly for the camera. Instead, a session is about playfully capturing those smiles and their personality.

Mother and son in beautiful light during North Bend, wa family photos

A regular family session allows your shy child to warm up to the process. If she starts out unsure and clingy, chances are, as the family session progresses she will see how much fun everyone is having and take part in the activities (such as exploring the park, throwing rocks into the river with dad, etc). However, a mini-session does not allow her that time to warm up, and the time pressure may even turn her off completely. Not to mention, our kids feel our stress. If you are stressed, they will be too.

Similarly, a busy toddler may need time to run and explore. He needs time before he’s ready to snuggle with mom and dad for photos. During a mini family photo session, there is simply not enough time and space to allow him to explore, be himself, and let his smile shine.

Parents are usually surprised by their favorite photos from their family session.

I completely get the want to have photos of your family that show off how beautiful your family is. We want a nice photo to give to the grandparents and to share on social media. However, there is so much more to having family photos taken than that “perfect” photo. You know the one with everyone smiling at the camera.

Family photos are about documenting your family as you are right now. It is about embracing the beautiful chaos that is raising children. The true smiles and laughter that you bring each other, the way your husband still makes you belly laugh, and the way your son lights up when he looks at you. Your family cannot be boiled down to one photo.

As you scroll through your gallery of images I want you to see your family, to be reminded of this stage. You should be able to look at your gallery and think, “This is us.” The photos that help tell your story are a series of details, close-ups, and moments that unfold. I want you to walk away with a collection of photographs your family will cherish because they are you, not because everyone looks “perfectly posed.”

The ability for a family to relax, settle in, and open up takes more time than a mini session allows for you.

One last thing to consider is the time spent preparing for your family photos.

You will spend the same amount of time preparing for a mini-session as you will for regular family photos. From booking the session, planning out outfits, getting everyone cleaned and dressed and to the location on time – none of that changes with the length of your session. You’re putting in the effort. Why not have the full benefits of a family session and feel less pressure in the process?

Playful family portraits at Tanner Landing Park in North Bend, WA

Convinced your family deserves the low-stress, playful family photo session with Neyssa Lee photography? Contact me to start the booking process.

I also invite you to start picking your favorite location type with my Top Seattle Area Locations Guide.

Mini Sessions why or why not, Issaquah Family Photographer, North Bend, Neyssa Lee Photography,  Photo of baby boy holding mom and dad's hands

More places to explore for Seattle area family photography inspiration:

*The family photo session shared here took place in the gorgeous Snoqualmie Valley.

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