October 15, 2022

Why I Don't Do Mini Sessions | Pittsburgh Photographer

Family Photos

This time of year, I often am asked if I am holding mini sessions.

If you don't know what "mini sessions" are, they are series of shorter photo sessions, usually scheduled in a block over one or two days. So, for instance, a photographer might book 3 hours for 15 minute sessions back to back, each family or client gets a 15 minutes session. Or 20 minutes. Whatever you decide to do.

The short answer is: I don't do mini sessions very often. Occasionally, I do them for fundraisers. I do them for headshots sometimes, because headshots are easy to do in a short period of time. I have done them for school picture day-style photos. Or if there is a super-cool place that I want to shoot, but something about that location is inconvenient for individual sessions.

A big part of what I love about family photography is getting to know and connect with the family a little bit, and having a low-stress, relaxed session where both kids and grownups feel like they can let down their guard a little. It's how I get all my best shots. The portraits I like to take (relaxed, unposed, authentic) can take a little more time for clients to warm up, relax, open up, feel comfortable. And I just don't get that with minis! I know lots of folks love them, and I get it, they're just not really my style.

In my experience, there are some extroverted kids who do great at the beginning and burn out early; and some more introverted kids who eye me suspiciously for the first 20 minutes and then decide I’m okay and warm up to me. I'm an introvert myself, so I definitely understand!

Kids, especially, can take a few minutes to ease into a photo session. I mean, think about it; It's kind of weird. Your kids don't know me, have possibly never met me, its possible they've never seen a camera that's not inside your phone, they don't understand why they are wearing different clothes. We're somewhere they've possibly never been. I'm a stranger talking to them, possibly directing them.

Often, people think their kids are too rambunctious, or that they won't focus or behave for a full session. I mean this honestly and not as a shameless plug for my full sessions ha ha, but I will say that often kids with shorter attention spans and higher energy levels do much better with the full hour sessions because we can be leisurely, be silly, take breaks, have a snack, etc. I almost always have a harder time with minis because there's so much pressure to get all the good stuff in just a few minutes. 

I love being able to give you the "holiday card" shot, and also all the little unscripted, unplanned, in-between moments. I feel like these are the heirlooms, the keepsakes. Because they show an authentic connection between your family members. And of course, that relationship will change over the years. But when they are grown, to be transported back to this moment when they innocently thought you were the coolest, the funniest, the greatest. I think its worth it!

These photos can remind you how you and your kids were in the world at the time of the shoot. The way kids walk, their posture and body language, their facial expressions, the way they interact with siblings. All of these things are fleeting.

Here are some of my favorite images captured over the years by just letting the kids be kids.