"Do you do mini sessions?" It's not the number 1 question I get asked by any means, but it is one I get nonetheless. The short answer is no, but there's so much more to it than that.
I'd like to preface this whole thing by saying I'm not knocking mini sessions. Some photographers do them and they do them in a way I'm totally envious of. It is it's own art, just not mine. You're not going to catch Nicholas Sparks writing suspense novels and you're not going to find me shooting minis. I tried once, and there was nothing mini about it for me and I'm not doing it again. Nope.
Mini Sessions are too short. We're talking 15 minutes of mom and photographer trying to keep everyone on their "best" behavior while mom is worried about Sally's bow being in the wrong spot, little Johnny can't get his finger out of whatever hole he just discovered, and dad still isn't even sure why they're there to begin with. Everyone shows up stressed out and hopefully they get that one everyone looking at the camera photo they came for. The Christmas card shot.
The problem is what are we trying to remember here? Are we trying to remember those super cute coordinating outfits mom bought or are we trying to document the way mom brushes that sweet toddler hair from little Sally's face or the way Johnny's arms wrap around dad's neck and his eyes squeeze shut or the way your littles finds you in a moment of uncertainty or that sideways "I'm trying not to laugh" smirk of your pre teen? My vote is for the latter. Those are the moments that make me tick as a photographer.
Ask yourself who these photos are for. Where do you want them to end up? If your answer is Facebook or a Christmas card, mini sessions might be your jam. If your answer is on your wall or in a stunning coffee table album or some super fun square prints that your children can touch, then maybe minis aren't your jam. Maybe you'd prefer a good Nicholas Sparks book over James Patterson. There's no wrong answer here.
90 minutes is way more time to just relax and not worry and to just savor a few "real" moments with your loved ones.
But to prove my point I'd like to show you some photographs from my latest session that happened after the first 15 minutes of shooting (the standard mini session length of time).
I received a message from a photographer/mom I look up to on Instagram the other day that really made my week (maybe my month). The last year has been... interesting. A roller coaster of emotions I guess you could say and one that has made me second guess my path at least once a week. Her words had me a little teary eyed for just a second because it means so much when you receive praise and encouragement from someone you truely respect.
This stay at home mom business is hard (or work at home mom depending on the day). I knew it would be, but when I quit that job that I was super excited about after just one day last year, I had this vision of my kids playing nicely in the playroom (which we didn't even have yet because selling a house can be hard and building one is even harder) which somehow also looked clean in this vision while I sat at a cute little desk editing photos and drinking coffee (that was actually hot) with a Disney soundtrack playing in the background. What is that? Does that actually happen? I mean, some days my husband thinks so and he comes home a little confused about why there are so many dishes in the sink and toys in the living room. Good thing he doesn't actually care that much.
Even with this vision being way off, this was the first year I didn't apply for a teaching job in the last 4 years. I've spent plenty of time feeling discouraged, but I've also had these little moments of encouragement and let me tell you, the encouraging moments are worth 100 times more than the discouraging ones. I've tried to accept these little priases graciously, own my hard work in those moments, and use all of this to push me even further forward. The feeling of people noticing something beautiful in my work or seeing the improvement I've made over this last year is like a drug. I have no choice but to keep going on my journey with photography. That's for sure where I want to focus my energy, even though I don't necessarily know exactly what that might look like going forward.
When that super sweet photographer I was talking about took time out of her day and from her life to leave me, ME!!!, a little message, I was shocked and proud of how far I've come and just so honored that she would notice and think I was worth that time. With her kind words she sent me this picture that I had recently posted on Instagram....
It actually didn't perform all that well on instagram, but I love it an I also can see my growth here. The original image was a tad over exposed, but once I dropped the exposure in post processing, my heart stoped for just a moment. The way the water and her shoulder are illuminated on the left side and the way the wet hair sticks to her back and the blur from freelensing... my momma heart loves everything about it. I love my black and white, but I'd edit this one in color all day, everyday.
But honestly, this photo (or any of my recent images) wouldn't have been possible without a couple things. 1. Those few and far between people who decided to reach out to me in some way and tell me they loved what I was doing and to keep going and 2. The amazing community of women (and a man here or there) on Instagram that have embraced me and insprired me to try new things.
When I started this post I didn't really know where I was going with it. I guess if you take anything from it, I hope it's that you should speak up if you see someone killing it because I can assure you they don't always feel that way. We tend to be our own toughest critics and sometimes we just need someone to say, "Hey girl, your killing it."
So Hey Girl (or Dude), You're Killing it!
I haven't blogged in nearly 6 months. Life has been a bit crazy between kids and new house and all that comes with it and I've wondered if I even still want a blog on my website. Yesterday's session was my clear answer. Yes!!! I do still want a blog!!!! Plus my sister-in-law says she likes it when I write so Krista, this one is for you.
Not all that far back, somewhere between Summer Moon and Donut Palace on Buda's Main Street, I passed a window display that left much to the imagination. There was paper blocking the view to the inside of the building, something new was going here, and I was kind of excited about the cute little logo in the bay window and the name Thatcher. Surely that little circle with the house inside it meant it was something to do with the home and I could only hope it would be a cool little shop. I found the Instagram page and instantly fell in love. Naturally I followed because who wouldn't. Then last week I got an Instagram direct message from Mel singing my praises and asking if I'd like to be part of their Grand Opening. "Events" usually aern't my deal, but I saw this as so much more than that. They loved what I did and just wanted me to come in and do what I do. I wanted to be part of this, but I honestly had no idea it would be so beautiful and expertly curated. Mel and Laura are the real deal.
I was blown away as I stepped through the door. It smelled amazing. The tables were were perfectly set with candles, books, beautiful and natural cleaners, organic linens, glassware, pottery, and wooden home goods. And don't even get me started on the vintage green couch. My first thought was "my goodness, who wouldn't want to spend everyday right here? This is so gorgeous." And then there were these awesome women who were so excited to see and meet me (ME!) and I knew we had something very, very special here in this little town. Y'all, words don't do it justice! Words can't give you the warmth these women do as you enter this space they've carefully created. You have to go. There really isn't two ways about it.
In home lifestyle sessions are quickly becoming my absolute favorite thing to shoot. I thrive on connections and home is the place for most where their connections seem to be the most natural and real. It's so easy to connect in a space that is all your own and reflects who you are. We all love a pretty picture, myself as much as the next person, but these days I feel like we're all looking to get a little something more from our photographs. Lifestyle gives that something more. So the big questions is....
HOW COME PEOPLE AREN'T BEATING DOWN THE DOOR TO BOOK A LIFESTYLE SESSION?
The #1 reason people aren't booking lifestyle sessions is because they believe their house isn't good enough or pretty enough or light enough or whatever enough. I'm here to tell you that belief couldn't be further the truth. In fact, these things probably actually make your pictures even a bit more interesting.
So to prove my point I bring you the sweetest birthday session you ever did see that just so happened to take place in a 660 square foot apartment. That's right, under 700 square feet of challenging light just bursting with love and adorableness. Is that even a word? Who cares? The adorableness was off the charts and a puppy even got a bath in a kitchen sink. Seriously the cutest little session ever.
Remember Wes and Shannon from back in the spring? I stopped by one evening to grab "a quick photo" with them and their pup Sadie as they said goodbye to her. It was the sweetest thing and I was so happy to be able to gift them with this beautiful memory of Sadie.
Well now they're moving. The house is sold, the boxes are starting to fill up and a new piece of property awaits just a few miles down the road. It's an amazing adventure they are embarking on, but first we needed to take the time to celebrate their very first home together as a married couple. You can't take it with you, but I think we found an even better way to remember what this time of their life was like. Congratulations to my beautiful friends on the next adventure.
This type of session is perfect or so many things: Engagements, Anniversaries, Valentines Day, Leaving Old Homes, New Homes, Celebrating Life Before Kids, or Because You Feel Like it