1. Creative control. At most mini sessions, the photographer is picking the location and scheduling a day’s worth of clients 30-45 minutes apart. Those beautiful sunset photos you pinned on Pinterest… you aren’t going to get them if your session is scheduled at 2 pm. Also, you aren’t choosing the location. The photographer probably picked a nice location for the sessions, but by going with a full session you can put in the time and dialogue with your photographer to make sure every detail is perfectly planned. You can have the urban or rustic setting that is better suited for your family, and plan the perfect outfits to compliment your dream location with suitable props to bring it all together.
2. Time is on your side. I tell my clients that my sessions last 1-2 hours. Why the variance? Well, if we don’t need to be there for two hours and I can get a good gallery of poses in 1 hour, why squirm in the spotlight any longer? However, if we need to take a break, insert an outfit change, or stop and hand out snacks to avoid grouchy toddlers, I’ll stay as long as it takes to make sure you get all the shots on your wish list and I am confident I can provide an outstanding final gallery. Often, I get my best images the last 20 minutes of the hour, not the first. Everyone has settled in and had time to get more comfortable in front of the camera, the lighting is now that perfect sunset glow and everything has fallen into place. If you want to include an outfit change, have more than 1-2 kids, especially young or rambunctious children, a child who is incredibly shy or awkward in front of cameras, or want to include the family pet, a mini session may not give you the time needed to get those perfect photos.
3. Extra care and TLC. Some might argue that this falls into the time category, but I think there is an extra level of TLC clients get from a full session. There is a storytelling element to photography that can get lost in a 30 minute cookie cutter session. I can find out if baby Ben has a special “lovey” that they want to include in a few photos. If Sarah has a favorite hat she wants to wear all the time these days, I can tell mom to bring it along and when Sarah has had enough of taking pictures I can pull out her hat and ask if she’ll let me take some pictures with her in it, and she’s immediately revitalized and ready to cooperate. I can wait for the perfect moment to jump in with that knock-knock joke I’d looked up because mom told me Jack was obsessed with them lately to get the perfect genuine smile.
4. Originality. Let’s face it, you probably aren’t getting the freshest photographer if they’ve already been shooting sessions for 3-4 hours at the exact same location. The photographer does have limited time and is thus looking for “safe” shots, which are nice posed photos of your family in a few pre-planned formal poses that will likely look very similar to the posed formals every other family took that day. There isn’t going to be a lot of time to capture candid images, take a few photos of just mom and dad, or capture those photos mom wants of just dad and son because they share a special bond.
To summarize, there are a lot of benefits to each type of session. If minis are all you can fit into this year’s budget they are a great option, just know that you may not be able to make a lot of special requests or have much customization- you may be perfectly happy with having all the decisions taken off your plate. Alternatively, it may be worth that extra $100 to have that creative control and input to give your photos that extra WOW factor, and end up with custom photos that you’ll really treasure for years to come. Most importantly, just be realistic, with yourself and your photographer. If you have 4 young children, unless they are perfect angels (or are heavily bribed) 30 minutes likely isn’t going to be enough time and you’ll be lucky to get one photo where everyone is cooperating, posed and smiling at the camera…hopefully it’s not the one where you think you look fat.
Cathy & Jenn of CatsMac Photography, Peterborough, Ontario.