Mar 28, 2017

4 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Family Mini Session

Whether it’s a mini maternity shoot with a toddler in tow or family minis for a special event or holiday, mini sessions with kids pose a whole different set of challenges than standard sessions. Because you don’t have as much time with the family, it can be more difficult to get them to open up and get genuine emotion out of them. In the midst of trying to make sure the kids are under control, you also need to manage your relationships with the parents and still try to get a variety of shots for them to choose from.

After years of honing my own mini sessions, a few tips have always served me well to get the most varied galleries with the most authentic smiles possible.

1. Pick a Versatile Location- Whether it be a beach right next to a forest, or an urban location with different pockets to pop into- a diverse location can make all the difference in a mini session. Sometimes I make sure the light and lighting situations are variable, sometimes the backgrounds look different and sometimes, there are more angles than I can take because of steps or height differences in the location. The mini session locations I choose, including the one showcased in this article, have the ability to look completely different within minutes, which is key when rambunctious kids are in the mix and time is not on your side.

2. Be Your Clients’ Best Friend- At a mini session, you have a short amount of time to make an impression and get comfortable. When you meet your client, immediately act like you are best friends. That includes hugs if you are a hugger, telling them about what your kids did that day, or diving into a parenting topic you know is universal. Acting like you have just picked up a conversation with a friend instead of just having met them, gives your clients a sense of ease and lets them more easily open up with you because you are being open with them.

3. Play with the Kids Before You Shoot- Playing with the kids within the first five minutes has been something game changing I’ve implemented in the past year. I challenge the older ones to races, sing songs with the toddlers and play peek-a-boo with the babies. It immediately sets the tone for a fun-filled session and disarms them. They are no longer begrudgingly here to do something their mom is making them do, they are having fun and you are their friend!

4. Swallow your Pride- We all have moments each session when something just isn’t working. Most people’s instincts are to keep pushing for longer than you should to give your clients confidence in your abilities as a photographer. In a mini session, you just don’t have that luxury. If something isn’t working- say so! It doesn’t matter how long it took to get in that position or get the kids to calm down, just try something else. I’ve found that clients appreciate your professional opinion and are happy to change it up, too.


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About the Contributor: I\'m a Bay Area photographer and mother of two, who has been encouraging tickle fights between siblings and couples to make out on camera (you know, in a classy way), since 2012.


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Joanna Dixon Great advice!

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