Making the Most of Your Mini Session, part 1

Fall is here and that means family mini sessions are about to begin. I offer these sessions as an alternative to a full in-home portrait session, which can be a bit long and intense for very young children (and, I’ll be honest, for some grownups). But, given that they’re only twenty minutes long, they go by FAST, and I want my clients to be prepared to make the most of their time in front of the camera.

With that in mind, I’m going to be posting a series of tips and ideas for your mini session and highlighting some of my favorite photos from last year’s pumpkin patch round.

First up, the Hill family, with part 1 of Making the Most of Your Mini Session.


1. Arrive early.

Amy is a good friend of mine, and although she has many wonderful, fantastic, super hero amazing good qualities, she has never been particularly concerned about time.  But to Amy’s credit, she rolled up in her mini van five minutes BEFORE her mini session was supposed to start. And that’s the way to do it. Showing up a little early ensures that we have time to wipe noses, gather jackets, tie shoes, finish snacks, and walk to the chosen location, where you will then have your 20 minutes of shooting time. Since minis are scheduled pretty much back-to-back, if you run late, your time in front of the camera may be cut short.


2. Let the kids be kids.

It is hard — really, really hard — to get some kids to look at the camera. (I live with one right now who ignores it completely, and if she does look, it’s with an enormous, uncomfortable, pained display of teeth that could barely be called a smile.) But that’s okay. Your kids are going to be cute while they’re running through corn rows, picking up pumpkins, and squirming through your tickles. Frame it as a fun activity for them instead of something they’re expected to sit patiently through. Tell them you’re going to go look at pumpkins and a lady is going to take pictures of the family playing together. Tell them you hope they smile a LOT and that afterwards, you’re going out for ice cream (yes, you must do this). And then, relax. Prepare yourself that they might not be smiling at me in every photo, but that they will look like their usual, curious, busy selves.

And on a related note, if you can tell your kid is just not feeling it, is overtired, or is nearing meltdown territory, tell me. You won’t like the photos if they’re mad or crying the whole time, and neither will I.  I’d rather cut the session short and save us all some stress than make “family portraits” something they (and you!) grow to hate.  I can always find another 20 minutes on another day to fit you in if this happens.

2015-09-30_0004.jpg3. Say yes to props!

I’m not usually much of a prop-heavy photographer, but mini sessions are a perfect time to bring out the animals, instruments, books, and hand-lettered Etsy chalkboards (you know what I mean). Props can be fun. And they help make your photos unique.

*Sinkland Farm minis are totally booked for this month, but I do have several spaces still open for November 22 at Joe’s Tree Farm in Newport, VA. If you’re interested, contact me at natalie@nataliegibbs.com.

Want to read part 2?  To continue with more tips, click here!

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    October 1, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    I love these posts! You inspire me to blog. 😀

  • Leave a Reply