As soon as the cold weather hits in the fall, my calendar explodes with activity. One of the biggest culprits is the annual Holiday Mini Sessions.
I used to be against mini sessions. I didn't like how the format resembled the big retail portrait studio that I once worked in. I prefer to take time with my clients, get to know them before, during and after the session. Mini sessions seemed impersonal to me, and not the route I wanted my business to go. Then last year I decided to try it out. I was surprised at how much fun I had! I realized that my clients understand what they are signing up for with a mini session, and many of them have returned for other types of sessions since their holiday mini, so in the end, I do get to have that relationship that is so important to me.
This year I held sessions on two different dates with a limited number of appointments each day. I had a lot of returning clients, which makes me happy. I also had several new families, which makes me happy, too!
One of my returning families was Sue and John. I shot their wedding last year and was happy to have them back again. They brought their dog, Richie (aka Doofus) and started my day out with a laugh.
John insisted on wearing his santa hat that says "bah humbug" but he was in the spirit anyway. Richie looks like he's smiling in almost every shot. My favorite image of these two came when I changed their pose and John gave Sue a squeeze. It made her laugh and it was a beautiful real moment between them. The affection they have for each other is more obvious in that one shot than in the rest of their session put together. Moments like that are why I love being a photographer.
Another returning family was Jen and her boys. We did a family session last fall and this year they decided to do the holiday minis. Charlie was just not in the mood. At all. Cole tried. Really hard! It was comical in a way, and Jen made jokes about doing a "naughty or nice" Christmas card with the images...which she actually did end up doing. I love when parents can have a sense of humor about their session when things go awry.
Between Charlie pushing Cole away, crying, and refusing to cooperate, somehow I finally captured a smile from him and saved the day. Jen apologized, but honestly, I like the challenge. The fact that through all that, she was happy with the final product, proves to me that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to with my life.
Ruth and Max were mini session rock stars last year, and again this year. They are just about the most cooperative kids I've ever worked with, and look at those beautiful faces!
I'm sure they have their moments, but there is strong sibling love between these two. They show amazing respect and consideration for each other. I feel like it's rare to see such a bond with siblings their age. They held hands several times without being asked. It was awesome. I could photograph them all day.
I met Nolan and Winston for the first time at their mini session. The main purpose of the session was to get a shot of the two of them together. Much easier said than done! As soon as we got Winston in the right spot, Nolan would take off. So we would wrangle Nolan back to his spot and Winston would go the other way! There was a lot of head shaking and laughing. And running after our subjects.
It didn't help that Nolan wasn't the least bit interested in posing for photos, with or without his dog. There were a lot of pouty faces at the beginning and I had to break out the red wagon that I keep on stand-by for kids with the wiggles. I don't know what Dad was doing to get this smile, but it ended up being one of my favorite images of the day.
We put Winston in the wagon. I thought it would keep him in one place. I was wrong. During a break between sessions, I downloaded the morning's images, and I was surprised and elated to see this shot of them. I hate feeling like I didn't get that one perfect shot that my client wanted, and that's how I felt after Nolan and Winston's session, even after capturing the elusive smile. I was so excited, I sent Mom a message to let her know we got it.
Kim was another new client this year, and she asked if we could do half holiday photos and half maternity. Of course, I said yes. Her daughter, Haylee, was a riot and a lot of fun. Kim's fiance, David, was super laid back. They brought a few of their own props to include in the family shots to signify Baby. I love when mini session clients bring things to make it more personal.
Haylee cracked me up multiple times. I can't remember what I asked her to do, but when she struck this pose, I had to shoot it.
As I was going through my bag of props, I came across the fake snow I bought and forgot I had. Haylee was the perfect model for the shot I had in mind for it. I've seen a lot of photographers do similar shots, and always wanted to try it myself. Haylee nailed it! I couldn't wait to get the image into Photoshop to add the effects. It took me a couple drafts, but I am in love with the final image. Get ready to see this beautiful girl all over my holiday marketing next year!
I brought out some of my maternity props and we moved away from the holiday set up for a few poses. Once I had several good shots, I asked Kim if there was something special that Haylee liked to do to connect with her baby brother...so they did this...and melted my heart. They are already a lovely family. I hope I am able to meet their new addition some day.
Day 1 of Holiday Mini Sessions 2016 was a success! Look for my post on Day 2 in a few days!
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger