Fall mini session dates were released Friday and have just about flown off the virtual shelf! For a lot of families, the fall mini session is a traditional once-a-year holiday chore— but they don’t have to be! After five years of hosting fall mini sessions, I have a few tips and tricks to keep the meltdowns (for both kids AND parents) to a minimum. The best part? They’re REALLY simple— just overlooked!
1. Coordinate outfits, don’t match.
When it comes to your fall mini session, deciding what to wear is probably the most stressful task of all. Choosing matching outfits might seem like the easy way to go, but please, avoid that trap. Especially during a mini session when we have less time to truly be in the moment, clothes have to convey the emotion and context of a photo. Choose clothing that looks as though it naturally goes together, not outfits that are forced.
Textures and accessories can play a big roll in the amount of movement and emotion we can create in such a short time span! My list of favorite children’s boutiques can help you find sustainable, coordinated clothing that’s well worth the price!
Keep in mind, the amount of combinations and activities we can get through is much more limited with a mini session. Plan for most of your photos to be of the whole family and major combinations (like all the siblings, mom with all the kids, mom and dad with each other). Since we won’t have time for outfit changes or tweaks, the clothing you and your family wears should be universally cohesive.
Need help? Check out my color palettes here.
2. Get there early.
Your fall mini session will be sandwiched back to back with other families. Straight up, being late means you’ll miss your session and your photographer will not owe you a dime. An extra ten or fifteen minutes can make a huge difference in an already shortened session. To avoid being late, plan on arriving at least a half hour early and if you pleasantly surprise yourself by being able to wrangle your toddler out the door on time, just stop for coffee on the way and enjoy some tunes in the parking lot.
If you are running late, communicate. Give your photographer a quick call or text to let her know what’s going on. She may be able to accommodate you if there have been other cancelations. If not, do your best with the remaining time that you have. Do not expect to be given extra time and do not ask your photographer to make other families wait because you didn’t set an alarm.
3. Make sure littles (and bigs) are fed and rested.
This seems like a no brainer, but every year I get at least a few kiddos that have missed a nap or snack time and are now crumbling into despair. Heck, even some adults get cold and hangry. Fall mini sessions with BP are scheduled in the mornings or evenings, and oftentimes we interrupt sleep and meal schedules. Make sure you account for this in the days or weeks leading up to your session date, so that kids (and parents) are comfortable and happy throughout. Rather than running the risk of littles falling asleep in the car on your way to the session, try to avoid interrupting a nap time completely by laying your child down earlier in the day, or letting them sleep in the day of. Plus, you can never go wrong with bringing snacks!
4. Dress appropriately for the weather.
We photographers are prepared to shoot in just about whatever Mother Nature throws at us! In 2020, she chucked a curveball when our Christmas mini sessions took place in whopping 80 degrees of full sunshine! Just a few months later my warm spring Mothers Day minis took place in a 38 degree wind tunnel. It can be so tempting to throw on a cute outfit and think, “We can manage for a minutes!” but please, take my word for it— you can’t. Stalk hourly weather a few days ahead of time and make sure your outfits match the environment you’ll be shooting in to avoid looking as uncomfortable as you will feel.
Additionally, make sure you know the location in which your session will be taking place. Will you be in a field? On a mountain? In the snow? Appropriate footwear and layering is a must, especially in the holiday season.
5. Get off of Pinterest.
I’ll be frank. As much as I love minis, they open the door for impossible demands that I rarely receive throughout the rest of the year. For a lot of families, this is a traditional chore that must be accomplished in order to create the most perfect holiday card. As cute as they are, please abandon the expectation that your children and spouse will innately be able to channel their inner GAP model to make all your Pinterest dreams come true. At the end of the day, even if your holiday address book is hundreds of addresses long, we are not creating these to impress other people. We are creating to document your life. Your real life. Instead of creating a Pinterest board, create a list of things that you love about your family and what means the most to you— whether that’s a lost tooth or the way your husband hugs you. Leave social media in the car, and let your photographer capture your family the way that it really is.