I offer mini sessions once a year, to less than ten families, in a Christmas tree farm. While I love getting to see those families each year and spend a little time in a huge field filled with gorgeous Christmas Trees, mini sessions do not fit my style of photography. More so, I believe that mini sessions are not for most families. Before you stop reading thinking, ”she’s wrong’“, please stop and consider the entire article before deciding where your family fits in.
Mini Sessions can be more stressful for parents and kids.
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.
Mini Sessions are not for shy kids or busy toddlers.
The two biggest excuses 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. No matter what type of session you have with me, I’m 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.
A regular family session allows your shy child to warm up to the process, or up to the idea of having me around photographing her family. 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.
Similarly, a busy toddler may need time to run and explore before he’s ready to snuggle with mom and dad for photos. During a family photo session there is 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 of everyone smiling at the camera.
Family photos are about documenting your family as you are right now, 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 can’t 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, to look at your gallery and think, “this is us.” The photos that help tell your story are a series of details, close ups, moments that unfolded because there was time and no pressure to do so. 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.”
One last thing to consider is that 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 for everyone, getting everyone cleaned and dressed and to the location on time – none of that changes with the length of your session. If you’re putting in that much effort, why not get the full benefits of a family session and feel less pressure in the process?