What are mini sessions? If you’ve never had professional photos taken, mini sessions are an easy, inexpensive, and fun way to try it out. Mini sessions are short photography sessions that typically last between 25-40 minutes. It’s also a great way to explore a new photographer, get some new family shots, baby/child milestones or to quickly update a few wall prints in your home. Since these sessions go by quickly, it’s important to be prepared and know what to expect. So now that you’ve booked your Mini Session with me, here are some tips to prepare for your mini-session and make it as easy and fun as possible.
The question on everyone's lips. The most important thing I want you to remember when preparing for your session is that I want you to look like YOU. And while I can provide some tips and ideas for clothing choices, I feel what is most important is that you allow your family's personalities to shine through. I really don't want to direct your wardrobe too much as the memories we are capturing are yours and not mine, so my best advice in this regard is to stick to your personal style. But, with that in mind, I also know that sometimes you might just need a few ideas and there are also a few things that don't photograph well, so if you feel like you want/need a little help then keep on reading.
Wear whatever you and the rest of the family feel most comfortable in, as that will shine through in the photos. Plus being comfortable is important because I will be having you sitting, standing, possibly crouching and maybe even dancing! Plus, I want this session to reflect you as you really are! This isn’t the time to try an eccentric new look if you’re usually quite natural looking for example! Here’s where to start – think about what you wear normally day to day and then think about the smartest version of that look. Also, try and find something in your wardrobe that fits you well, and you feel good in. You’ll feel better and more confident and that will come across in the photos. The main aim is to feel comfy and confident!
It all starts with you
Mum, you're probably the one who thought it was a good idea to get photos, so I truly want you to love them. Choose a piece of clothing or a colour that you love, and work the rest of the family's wardrobe around that. If that means going out and buying a new dress, then go for it! If you have a favourite pair of jeans that make you feel fabulous, then grab those and let's start planning everyone else around what makes you look and feel your best.
COORDINATION IS KEY!
A good rule of thumb is to coordinate but don’t match. Choose one person’s outfit first (usually the person planning the session) and then style everyone around that outfit. recommend a mix of colours that all complement each other. Pick a 2-3 colour palette that flows throughout the outfits and mix patterns, textures and fabrics. So, for example, if you have chosen your outfit and it has rust, sky blue and cream, then a rust skirt and denim shorts on the kids would tie in really nicely with that. Having a few feature colours mixed in with some plainer/neutral stuff works well.
COLOURS, PATTERNS & TEXTURE
Colour is great, but I tend to recommend avoiding anything too bright, our eyes are naturally drawn to anything bright in a photo, and we are trying to focus on capturing your faces rather than your clothes. With colours, I’d recommend more muted tones like olive greens, rust, mustard, dusty pinks, navy, browns etc, so the brightness of the colour doesn’t distract & overwhelm the photo. Neutrals are great but I’d go more for creams, greys or browns rather than black or white as these can be very bright or very dark in some lighting. It's nice to try to include at least one warm colour (rust, burgundy, mustard, brown etc) in your group, especially if we're shooting outdoors like in a park or garden. For an in-home shoot or if you're hoping to frame some of these photos then make sure you think about the rooms in your house and the colours they are - try not to match or clash with your house either! Also you don't have to stick to solid colours only, I think that if one or two people in your family are wearing something patterned this can look great. A floral dress or a subtle patterned shirt can work well, but keep the patterns subtle and ensure they don't clash with each other. However, big spots or stripes can be very distracting, as can any big logos, words or characters. If you want to keep things simple and most of the family are wearing plain clothes, then I’d suggest keeping it interesting with some textures- linen, denim or knits all look great. Layering is always great for visual interest (scarfs, vests, light jackets, etc.)
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER / LOCATION
I know that with the Great British weather, it’s entirely unpredictable but don’t worry I’ll be checking the weather forecast and speaking with you before your shoot to check what you’re wearing is weather appropriate. If it’s hot, light cotton clothing is best as hot and bothered children (and parents!) don’t bode well for a photo session. Equally, if it’s cooler, then jumpers, hats, and coats are needed. Also, colour-wise, there is a lot of bright green around in Spring and Summer so consider complementary pastel hues as well as natural shades. For autumn shoots shades of teal, rusts, claret and mustard work particularly well as do natural tones like camel or taupe. For warmth consider knits and accessorise with a scarf rather than heavy winter coats.
THINK ABOUT YOUR FEET
Same as thinking about the weather, it’s important to consider what you’ll wear on your feet. We could be walking through fields, woods, or perhaps a more urban setting like a city park, but you’ll be on your feet for a while. So cute shoes work well but only if they’re comfortable, and you can walk far in them. For in-home sessions, I have a no sock policy and for outdoor sessions just try and keep your socks simple and low-key. I don't want to see your bright white or colourful striped socks sticking out underneath your trousers. They will simply be distracting!
THE BASIC DON'TS!
So with the question “What should I wear on a photo session with you?” it’s equally important to look at what not to wear. So with clothing please just avoid large logos, thin stripes, bold graphics and animated characters. Also, no neon or super bright/primary colours as they can leave a colour cast on faces and skin. And finally – take your phone and keys out of your pockets! It will really show up on camera and I want you to be as present as possible during the session!
I'M HERE TO HELP :)
My job is to make sure you look your best in the pics and I want to help you do that! If you want to email or WhatsApp me pictures of the potential outfits, I’m more than happy to talk it through and reassure you.
WHAT TO BRING
While I don't use props, for outdoor sessions, some items might come in handy! For example, it would be great to bring a nice blanket, as becomes a place to sit together and we can do all sorts of fun activities around it. Plus some wet wipes, a drink and a few snacks for your children if they get hungry.
GET A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP AND FILL YOUR BELLIES
Easier said than done these days, I know, but getting a couple of decent nights of sleep leading up to the session will do wonders – especially for the kids. Also, make sure kids (and Dads) aren’t hungry as they arrive. Snacks are always welcome!
What if it rains?
In the lead-up to your session, I will keep a close eye on the weather forecast but I don't tend to make a decision until the morning of the shoot as the forecast can be very unreliable. If it is wet we have the following options: change the location to your home and stay warm and dry indoors. Embrace it: think welly boots, clear umbrellas and jumping in puddles! And if you really want shots outside, but the weather is very bad, I am more than happy to reschedule for another date. But please do not worry if the day turns out to be grey and cloudy, overcast skies produce beautiful soft light which is very flattering.
ARRIVE EARLY AND COME PREPARED
Please plan on arriving 10 minutes early to your session to give yourself and your family plenty of time to settle in, walk to the meeting area and deal with any last-minute issues that may arise. Seasonal mini sessions are sometimes scheduled back-to-back and any amount of time that you are late will directly impact the length of your session. Feel free to bring snacks and water for kids or a favourite toy that you wouldn’t mind ending up in the photos. Mini sessions happen quickly so it may take a little one a few minutes to warm up to a new face with a camera, and sometimes a favourite comfort item may help. Also, I won’t discourage bribery for the kids. Maybe bring something special for them to have afterwards if they cooperate (a lollipop?) but don’t let them know what it is until they are done.
RELAX AND HAVE FUN!
Don’t think of it as a photoshoot. Think of it as a few minutes of uninterrupted time with your family. Utilise this family session to be really present, and spend time playing, hugging, dancing and embracing your kids! It's all about playing and enjoying your time together during my family session Relaxed families = beautiful photos. No need for the kids to smile and look at the camera for every shot. My priority is to capture your family's connection with one another, so I will often ask you to look at each other. I want you to play, snuggle, get close….. closer, kiss, tickle, throw the kids around, dangle them upside down and have fun together. I will be darting around trying to get all the angles and images, so you will have a beautiful full gallery to choose from. During the session please don't stress out about how the kids are (mis)behaving! They’re kids and it’s part of the fun of a family photography session to photograph you and capture your natural personalities. So just let go, embrace imperfection, have fun and remember to smile even if your kids aren't!
BE CONNECTED & SHOW AFFECTION
Stay close to one another and always touch: hold hands, snuggle, hug, and put a hand on a shoulder. Make as much contact as you can with your family. This will help show the love and connection you have for one another. So if you don't know what do to with your hands, simply hold your partner, pop them on someone's cheek, play with their hair, or stroke their arm. ANYTHING - just touch!
NO CHEESE PLEASE
Please remember you don’t always have to be smiling and looking at the camera. We will get those shots in the beginning or I will ask you to look when needed. But look at each other, or look into the distance…these candid shots feel more natural and are usually the family favourites. Also, please try to avoid telling your kids to say “cheese”. Instead, tell them a funny joke, or anything you know that will make them giggle instead. Play with them, tickle them, snuggle, throw them in the air, chase them around…just play with them as you would normally do and let me capture these moments. And remember that sometimes, kids do better for the camera when parents aren’t looking. It’s okay to walk away for a minute to let me have a moment with them. That’s when I usually get my best portrait shots.
If you show your kids how excited you are about the session - there's a better chance of them feeling the same. Try to stop being a parent just for those few hours and just enjoy spending time with them. Dads, it will be over before you know it. And Moms, don’t worry. You look beautiful. And no matter how bad you think your kids behaved, I’ve seen way worse, usually in my own home. They did a great job!
Roz Creed is a lifestyle newborn, maternity, and family photographer based in Chiswick, West London. She loves to capture authentic connections between people and families and to freeze those moments in time that pass all too quickly. The areas she covers are Chiswick, Fulham, Barnes, Mortlake, Richmond, Kew, Brentford, Acton, Ealing Hammersmith, Putney, Battersea, Wandsworth, Fulham, Parsons Green, Wimbledon, Hampstead, Belsize, St Johns Wood, Shepherds Bush, Twickenham, Kingston upon Thames, Nortbiton, Teddington, Central London, Notting Hill, Paddington, Kensington & Chelsea, Holland Park, Victoria, Pimlico, Vauxhall, Lambeth, Maida Vale, Kilburn, Queenspark, Kensal Rise, Islington & Stoke Newington. If you live out of these areas that is not a problem, but an additional travel fee may apply.