Lifestyle Photography

Why I’ve Stopped Doing Mini-Sessions

If you’re not familiar with mini-sessions, it’s when a photographer hosts very short photography sessions, usually 10-20 minutes long, and delivers small image packages, typically around 5-20 images.

I’ve done mini-sessions in years past; I feel like they are expected from most family photographers. But this year, when I was debating whether or not I should put together a mini-session package, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that mini-sessions just aren’t the right fit for me and my photography style. Here are four reasons why:

  1. Mini-sessions felt cookie cutter to me. When doing minis in the past, I started to feel like I was delivering the same images over and over again for every family. With a limited amount of time, I wanted to make sure I was delivering “holiday card worthy” shots. But that meant sticking with a predictable routine of safe shots and poses, and not tailoring each session to a particular family’s needs and personalities - which is the way I prefer to work.

  2. I won’t get my best results in a mini-session. In order to capture a family’s authentic vibe and story, I like to give every family member the time and space to open up, get comfortable, let their guard down, and be themselves in front of my camera. The limited time of a mini-session didn’t allow me to work that way, unfortunately. I felt pressure to get unhappy babies, active toddlers, and shy kids to pose for photos that they weren’t ready to be in yet - not a great feeling.

  3. Mini-sessions don’t tell the whole story. Every session I do tells a family’s unique story, whether it’s a documentary Family Story session or a more traditional Family Portrait session. I like to structure a session to include time for families to play, explore, and just enjoy each other’s company, which is really tough to do in a short amount of time allotted to a mini-session.

  4. The details were missing. I love to capture detail shots during a family session - how a brother and sister hold each other’s hands, how a daughter squeezes her mother tight, how a shy little boy hides behind his dad’s leg. These natural moments always end up being my favorite shots from every session, but I felt like those details were missing from mini-sessions.

So here’s what I think. You should go big and book a full session. Yes, it’s an investment, and often a large one for a lot of families. I totally get it. But you will never regret spending the extra time and money to have a professional photographer document your family, capture your unique story, and preserve your family’s memories.

Enjoy some of my favorite images that I never would have captured within the limits of a mini-session.

Family Photographs: When the Magic Happens

I was so happy to meet Katie and her family. As soon as I read her pre-session questionnaire, I knew we would get along splendidly. And we did! It was such a treat to photograph their family at Pearson-Arastradero Preserve in Palo Alto (one of my favorite local spots, never mind the dusty path!).

My goal with every family session is to make sure that the vibe is relaxed, and easy-going. When everyone feels free to be themselves and comfortable enough to let their guard down in front of the camera... that’s when the magic happens.

The kids and I bonded immediately over PJ Masks. (As the parent of a 5 year old and an 8 year old, I consider myself an expert in all things PJ Masks, Paw Patrol, and Disney Jr. - which works quite well to make littles ones comfortable at a session.)

Katie’s parents also joined us! I love including grandparents in family sessions - it’s always such a special experience for them.

Here are some of my favorite images from this family session. I hope you enjoy them as much as I loved taking them!

Authentically Fun Family Photography | Bay Area Family Photographer

I laughed so hard during this session at a local park here in Mountain View. Give me a family with a toddler, a preschooler, and an elementary schooler - and I’m in my element. The more active they are, the better! (And that’s why you’ll always find me wearing sneakers during family shoots.)

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I know that most parents worry that their kids will act crazy and silly during our photo session. And the truth is… they probably will. I speak from experience with my own kids. But that’s ok! As a storyteller, I never ask or pressure kids to be anything other than authentically themselves. If your kids want to run around during the shoot? No big deal - that’s how I’ll shoot them. And I’ll probably ask the parents to run around too. If they want to climb on Dad? The higher the better, and Dad should get ready to swing them around and toss them in the air, too.

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I’ve got lots of kid-tested-and-approved tricks (and let’s be honest, a fart joke or two) to turn the craziness into magic. Trust me, and we will get GREAT photos that capture your family’s real vibe. I want to give you photos that reflect who you and your kids really are - not a stiff posed portrait with fake, awkward smiles.

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Here are some of my favorite images from Theresa and Vince’s family session. They were such a fun bunch!

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A Growing Family Session | Bay Area Family Photographer

This is the fourth time I’ve been lucky to photograph Rea, Richie and their (growing!) family. Our first shoot together was when Rea was expecting their older daughter, and now that little girl is about to become a big sister in just a few weeks.

I love watching families grow over the years. As a parent myself, I know how the days with babies and toddlers can feel long and short at the same time. Kids grow and change so quickly. I want my families to have the pictures that help them remember what they felt at each stage in their lives.

Congrats Rea and Richie - I can’t wait to meet your new arrival!

Here are some of my favorite images from their session.

A Cozy Afternoon at Home | Bay Area Family Photographer

I started doing in-home family photography sessions this past year, and I just love them! It’s so special to be invited into a family’s comfortable space to document their lives. While epic outdoor locations can be amazing for photographs, to me, there is no location more meaningful than the place where a family lives all of their everyday moments.

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Lesley and Jeff were some of my first clients. I have loved capturing their family and their boys throughout the years. They moved into a new (gorgeous!) home this year, so we celebrated that with a comfortable lazy afternoon at home. When energy started running high (see: the bed jumping photos), we got outside into their neighborhood to explore, laugh and run around.

Here is a peek at some of my favorites from this session.

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A Playful Family Afternoon | Bay Area Family Photographer

Every family is different, so every family photo session should have it’s own unique feel! My goal as a photographer is to have each session reflect a family’s true personality and character. I start off with a pre-session questionnaire to start getting to know the family. Then we work together to pick a location. There are a few things I look for when picking a location:

  • It should be meaningful to the family in some way.

  • It should have a variety of settings so that the family will have a diverse image gallery.

  • It should be a great backdrop for a fun family activity.

I loved photographing Clare and Philippe’s family earlier this fall. We chose their neighborhood park, which was perfect for a casual, relaxed vibe. The family rode their bikes over, which set the tone perfectly. We explored the park, rode bicycles, and played on the playground. I loved capturing a typical, playful afternoon with their family.

Here is a peek at some of my favorites from this session.

Splashing on a Rainy Day | Bay Area Family Photographer

I had so much fun photographing Devon and Ken’s family in November. This was a session that almost didn’t happen. We had to reschedule it twice due to the bad air quality from the horrible wildfires here in Northern California. We were so happy to finally get some much needed rain, and we certainly weren’t going to let that stop us from having our session.

So we decided to embrace it. We threw on rain boots, rain jackets, and got outside, just as the sun came out, to make some rainy day magic. I love photographing when it’s wet out. The air feels fresh and clear, the light is pretty, and the colors are typically bold and vibrant.

Family sessions are best when we play, explore, and have a bit of adventure. I love when families trust my vision and aren’t afraid to get silly (a little bit wet!) in the interest of making some great, memorable images. And who doesn’t love jumping in puddles?

Here is a peek at some of my favorite images from this session.

Photographing Toddlers | Bay Area Family Photographer

I dig two-year-olds. It’s one of my favorite ages to photograph. I’ve got lots of toddler tested and approved tricks, but two-year-olds absolutely make you work for it. Just see how sweaty and tired I am at the end of a session with toddlers! I like to give them the space be themselves, explore, and get comfortable with me and my camera. I will always follow their lead and never pressure them to do anything other than be authentically themselves. Stuffed animals and lovies (or even mom’s car keys!) are always welcome. Once we get in a groove with each other, magic happens.

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As a parent of little kids myself, I know how endlessly exhausting days with a two-year-old can feel. But those moments are also fleeting, and before you know it… your two-year-old is taller, leaner, off to kindergarten, and a full-fledged big kid. I want to stop time for my families so they always remember how they felt and what they were like at this stage in their lives.

This is the third time I’ve photographed Rea and Richie and their family. I first photographed them when they were expecting their daughter, then again shortly before her first birthday, and now as she is an active, adorable toddler. Take a look at some of my favorites from this session.

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Family Photography Matters | Mountain View Family Photographer

One of my favorite things about family photography is watching families grow over the years. I want all of my families to have a memory of exactly what their family was like at an exact moment in time. I would love to capture these memories for your family this year.

Making Memories

This is the second time I've gotten to spend time with Deborah and her family for a photography session. I couldn’t believe how much they’ve grown since our first session together. Their son was just a toddler at the time, barely walking without holding his dad’s hand. And their daughter, who was just finishing up preschool, is now growing into a thoughtful, kind and smart big kid.

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The Little Moments

As a parent myself, I can't quite believe how fast the moments that you swear you'll never forget start to slip away. Siblings holding hands and giggling together. A dirty little hand holding rocks. Snuggling in dad’s arms. Whispering in mom’s ear. When I think of my favorite memories, it’s always the little moments and small details that make my heart full.

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A Summer Evening at the Park| Mountain View Family Photographer

I first met Michelle and her sweet family last fall for our first photography session together. I was thrilled to shoot another session for them again this year.

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At Home Portraits

We started off the evening at their home. This session was just a few days before they moved from the Bay Area to the East Coast. We did a short shoot in front of their home and included the family dogs, Sandy and Reese. I was more than happy to love on these sweet dogs a little bit.

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Off to the Park!

We headed off to their neighborhood park here in Mountain View. They had done some previous family sessions at this location, so it was a nice way to wrap up their time in the area. My own family used to live in the same neighborhood, just a few blocks away, so heading to this park brought back a flood of memories for me. Both of my kids were born in this neighborhood, and we spent a ton of time here when they were babies and toddlers. It was great to see it again, and especially to see it hold special meaning for another family too.

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Time to Play!

I structure my sessions to leave lots of time and space to play, explore and relax. I want my sessions to be a way for families to connect with each other and spend time together. What better way to do that than through play? We ended our session with the girls swinging, climbing, and showing off their crazy good monkey bar skills.

 

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