The Truth About Mini Photo Sessions

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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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Is a mini photo session all you need for your family photos this year? Do you think they are the best option for your family because you are short on time or have a busy toddler? Or maybe other thoughts and worries have crossed your mind. If you’re unsure, or maybe if you’re a true believer in mini photo sessions. This post is for you.

I hear all too often families give excuses why they can only do a mini session. However, I’m offering you three reasons you may not want a mini session. Just in case you’re feeling discouraged, I do think there is a time and place for mini sessions, so at the end of this post I have included the top two groups I think minis are perfect for AND the only three ways to book a mini session with me.

Ready? Here we go!

It takes you the same amount of time to get ready no matter how long your session is.

Selecting everyone’s outfits, getting everyone clean, dressed, and hair brushed and out the door takes the same amount of time no matter if you have a mini session or a full session.

A mini photo session will cause you more stress.

When you are limited on time and worried about getting that “perfect” shot, or the kids behaving, or arriving on time, or the weather, (and the list of worries that we’ve all had goes on), there is a lot more to be stressed about.

First, the kids feel your stress and will act accordingly. Whether they are shy or too busy, you’ll feel the pressure during your shoot as you feel the time ticking away.

Rescheduling a mini session is much more difficult for both ends because there are numerous families involved. Mini sessions will happen rain or shine. You have to be prepared to get wet. A regular family photo session, it’s about what is best for your family, whether that is rescheduling when works best for you or moving to a different location.

“But my kid will only ‘behave’ for photos for 15 minutes anyways.”

I have heard this one A LOT. You could replace “behave” with “sit still,” or “cooperate” but the meaning is the same.

Having family photos taken is not about anyone acting a certain way. I never leave a session saying that kids behaved well or didn’t behave well for photos. It is about having fun together, loving on each other, and capture true connections within your family. This is done through a guided process. A full family session allows time for this to happen.

A mini session does not allow time for your shy child to warm up to having photos taken. They also do not allow time for your wild child to get the wiggles out. (With regards to this, see the above mini sessions causing more stress applies here too).

Families I work with are surprised when their children are asking to stay and play after the portrait session.

Seattle photographer shares mini photo session info

So who are mini sessions for?

With all the things above, it seems like I despise mini sessions. I don’t. I totally understand the appeal to them. They are often less expensive, shorter, and seem like the best of all worlds, fresh photos of your family, quickly.

But when considering mini sessions ask yourself the point of the photos. What is your goal for the photo session? Are you willing to have the extra stress for them?

Now, I do think there are great times mini sessions work well. People that mini sessions work well for:

Mini sessions work well for families with older children.

I’m talking pre-teens to teens. They don’t need to get the wiggles out and can snuggle in and follow prompts more quickly than little kids. However, full family sessions with teens are so much fun as they really start to let go during our time together.

Family portrait session in North Bend, Wa

They also are great for families who have had photos taken earlier in the year but just need a quick refresh.

If you have young children, they grow and change a ton within a year. Maybe you don’t want multiple full family sessions, but one full session and several months later a mini to just capture a couple of details of your family. This helps a ton if you stick with the same photographer so that your children have a better chance at feeling comfortable in a short period of time.

Personally, I have a full family photo session once a year and I take photos of my kids myself throughout the year. (I understand, being a photographer gives me an advantage here, but you can learn to take better photos, just follow my tips I offer through out the year!)

As a Seattle area photographer, I only offer mini sessions in two ways.

  1. A mini maternity session, available to families who are expecting a baby and book a newborn photo session at the same time.
  2. Milestone Sessions – available to families who book either a newborn or a one year full family session, must take place within baby’s first year.
  3. Vacation Mini Sessions – Special Mini sessions are offered each year at locations like Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida.

Convinced that mini-photo sessions are not the best option for your family? Join me for a full family session. Worst case, you try it out and go back to minis. But I bet you’ll feel a weight off your shoulders when you try a regular family session with me this year instead!