I often get asked this time of year if I do mini-sessions. I used to — I did them in the Spring, and always did them partnered with a local non-profit organization (Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, Arlington Family Connection, Baystate Babywearers, and Arlington EATS have been some of the beneficiaries of this fundraising).
The more I did them, the more frustrated I became with the experience, and the less-well I thought I was serving my clients. Mini-sessions are only really a viable option for a business when they are booked back-to-back with many families coming one after another.
When I get an inquiry asking for pricing of a mini-session and “just a few photos” I see a family that wants the experience I offer and values what I do, but what I do cannot be shrunk down to a 15 minute block of time. The experience I offer and the images that result from that experience take time and space, and when I did mini-sessions, I wasn’t able to offer that and nurture that authentic connection that is a pillar of my portfolio and client experience. It felt rushed and pressured for both me and my clients.
As a mom of 3 kids, I know that quick in-and-out can sound really appealing, but the reality is that with that short of a timeframe, kids may not cooperate, and when time’s up, that’s it. The images I love to create are full of connection and love, while I believe they are totally worth the time, they do take time to get. With only 15 minutes, I’m not able to tailor your session to say something about you and your family. With back-to-back mini-sessions (the only way a mini-session makes business sense for the photographer), you also have the totally awkward moment when the next family is just standing there watching the end of your session, which I know makes so many people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable in front of the camera.
I *love* dedicated family sessions. The extra time helps everyone relax, and allows kids breaks as needed so they can be showing their best selves to my camera — no rushing them through, time for a snack or water break, and time to play the games that get those shots you love. A dedicated family session can be tailored to the needs and personalities in your family — it isn’t a cookie-cutter where everyone has to fit the same box. Because we have that time that is just yours, we have more time for laughs and fun without having to worry about rushing off to the next family.
I had initially done minis because it seemed like a perfect way to give back to the community, and I’ve found other meaningful ways to do that that are more in line with my valuing of my client’s experience. I have now pivoted to offering a set number of donated vouchers for organizations’ auctions to raise more for them and give a better experience.