That depends. What are the personalities of your kids? Do you have really shy kids that take a while to warm up to someone new? Do you have kids (like mine) that go absolutely bonkers when they meet someone new and it takes them a while to calm down? In either case, a 25 minute session probably isn’t the best choice. I also only hold mini sessions twice a year, so the availability is limited.
A standard session is something I am always going to recommend. It allows us time to settle into a rhythm, to lower the stress level, to give your family a few breaks (like letting the kids run off and snapping some shots of the two of you), it’s just a slower pace that I really enjoy. It also provides me an opportunity to really capture the full story of your family, all the details, all the perspectives, all the little moments that you’ll want to hold onto.
My sessions are 1-2 hours long.
”Melissa...there’s NO way my kids are gonna last that long!”
What that time frame means is we have that as the MAX amount of time. If 45 minutes into your 1 hour session, it feels like I’ve got everything I need and the kids seem about done, then we’ll end it there. I keep my camera out until you get in your car, so I’m ready in case a moment comes up that should be captured (which happens a lot). I’m always “reading the room” so to speak to make sure I’m in step with how you all are feeling and doing.
I know that seeing a 1-2 hour session timeframe also can seem like a lot… I hear you...but let me share one reminder with you. My sessions are based in play. We do one or two “everyone looking at the camera” pictures and then the rest of the time, you’re connecting with your kids. I give them activities to do, we run around, you all play games, and the time goes by quickly. Honestly, more often than not, the parents are having to pull their kids away at the end of the session cause we’ve run out of time.
First and foremost, you need to be comfortable. Second, figure out what kind of vibe you want for your session. Formal? Casual? Kind of dressy? I always suggest Mom picks her outfit out first, then build around that. You want complementary colors (not matching, the days of everyone in jeans and blue shirts are done my friends), and usually stick to one person in a pattern. Soft neutrals photograph the best and I strongly advise against bright/neon colors (like orange, anything fluorescent.) and shirts/clothes that have graphics/characters on them.
I also LOVE helping to style my clients, and I have a fantastic partnership with Style and Select which allows me to send you outfits for the whole family to either inspire you with what you have in your own closet, or to purchase pieces from. I also have a few dresses that I’m happy to let my clients borrow too!. So if you want outfit help, just check that box on the questionnaire and I’ll be happy to help!
If it’s an outdoor session (which, for the foreseeable future, it will be), then I do my sessions at sunrise or the hour-ish before sunset. The light is the best at those times of day. If you have little ones and starting a session at 6/6:30pm is too late, but they’re up at the crack of dawn, then let’s plan to meet at 6:30/7:00am! My kids still think sleep is for the weak, so I have no problem meeting you in the morning! Especially if you want to do a location that is more popular or city based, early morning almost guarantees no crowds!
In terms of where your session will be, I have locations scattered all around the state that I use for sessions. I know these places like the back of my hand and I know what they look like in all different kinds of light. They are all different kinds of backdrops too, so depending on what you were looking for (open field, water feature, urban), I’ve got your covered. Most importantly (especially right now), they are off the beaten path which means that there will likely not be anyone else around. I try to find locations that are within a no more than a 30 minute drive max from your home to keep it simple and easy.
The turnaround time for gallery delivery is usually two weeks. In the busy season (September - November), turn around time can be up to four weeks as I’m typically shooting sessions during the week and weddings on the weekends. I edit every single image from your session, so while I know it can be hard to wait, trust me, it’s worth it!