Fall is generally the time of year when families start to think about scheduling family photos. Many families are hoping for new photos to use for printing holiday cards and gifts. My photography schedule fills up fast with requests this time of year and I always plan a mini session event in the month of October. Mini sessions allow me to photograph several families all in the same day and the shortened session time is especially appealing to families with little ones. This year, I worked with 8 families which included 16 adults, 14 kids (ages 5 months to 16), and 1 adorable golden retriever. I took over 3,000 images during the 8 mini sessions. I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way to help ensure a happy and well organized event. Here are my top 5 tips...
1. Provide all information in advance. I send out an email to each client several days before the mini session event outlining anything and everything…directions, what to wear, a phone number to call if they got lost that day, what to expect after their session, sneak peek info, gallery details, how to download/print images, rain date, and more. When your clients know this information up front, they are less likely to ask about these details during the session and this will free up your time to focus on shooting.
2. Know your location well. My mini sessions started at 3:00pm and ended at 5:40pm. It was a beautiful sunny day and the light was dramatically different at the start, the middle, and the end. Being familiar with the location allows me to act fast and respond to the changing light accordingly. The photos included in the blog are posted in the order I took them. You will notice a dramatic difference in light from session #1 to session #8.
3. Provide a welcome area. A sign (chalkboard easel from Hobby Lobby), simple snacks/treats, and a few fall décor items works for me. I like to keep it simple and fun. This year, I provided mini waters, apples, and small bags of candy corn. I always have wipes and kleenex available too. Having a welcome area lets people know immediately that they are in the right spot and provides a spot for families to gather and chat before/after the session. It can be challenging and even stressful to get your family ready for a photo session. I want my clients to feel loved and special from the moment they arrive!
4. Timing is everything. I schedule my mini sessions 20 minutes apart and ask each client to arrive 5 minutes early. I do not add in extra time in between sessions. So for example, the first session started at 3:oopm and then the next session at 3:20pm, and then 3:40pm, etc. In the past, I have scheduled 5 minutes in between each session and decided to change that for this year. By eliminating the 5 minutes in between, I was able to add 2 more mini sessions in essentially the same amount of time. I also made sure that each family knew that it was important to arrive on time and that I would not be able to extend sessions for late arrivals due to the schedule.
5. Bring a helper. My husband is the best assistant and I can’t imagine running mini sessions without him. He greets each family, answers questions, gives me a 5 minute warning before the end of each session, and just generally keeps things running smoothly and on time. He also helps load and unload everything for the sessions. Just knowing that I have an extra set of hands to help gives me great peace of mind.