photography tips + tricks

Why you might want to skip the MINI SESSION for your family photos

Here's why mini sessions are NOT always the best idea for family photos, especially if you've got young kids.

Mini Sessions might seem like the optimal way to go with getting new family photos, right? I mean, they're low-cost with little time commitment, will give you that one perfect picture for the announcement or end-of-the-year holiday card, and can be a great way to test out a new photographer without making a major commitment, right? I mean... what could go wrong?

BUT PICTURE THIS: You step into this adoooorable new shop that you've never been before. There are So. MANY. Things. to see. You're SQUEEEEEING with glee and getting ready to drool because you just can't stand the cuteness, but before you can do ANYTHING you're suddenly yanked by the arm to the center of the store where everything is just out of sight, and definitely out of reach. You try to sidestep to a colorful shelf that calls your name, but you're redirected again. Told you can't even LOOK in that direction. Frustration mounts, you find yourself checking your watch over and over again, wondering WHEN you can just have a peek... when you're suddenly pulled out of the store and led away.

Not cool, right?

Unfortunately, mini sessions with young kids can be a bit more difficult than you might expect, because this is what it feels like to them. This is what your toddler feels like whenever they're brought somewhere new and magical, and aren't allowed to touch or look or explore at all. And told to sit still and look straight ahead. But SMILE, dammit!

While most moms tend to want to book a MINI session because the kiddos' attention span is incredibly limited, this is actually the opposite way to go. A mini session can be "crunch time" if you're trying to get all those smiling family photos, and with little time to wiggle or play, the kiddos tend to melt down even more.

But by booking a full-length session, there's still in-between time for them to easily make the transition from moment to moment, stop for a snack, and explore the area from time to time. There's also plenty of time for everyone to warm up to the camera, and for authentic personalities to shine through. A full-length session ensures that everyone is able to actually ENJOY the experience all the way through, and alleviates the stress of worrying whether or not the kids will "behave" for the camera.

Now, before you start to panic because you've already booked that mini session or your budget just won't allow for the full session at the moment, let me remind you: the MINI session CAN be an absolute blast. I still actually offer them myself (only at certain times of the year), and get GREAT results every time. But the KEY is to remind yourself that this is, truly, a MINI session. You won't be able to get those 25 dream Pinterest poses or multiple locations or outfits in 20-30 minutes without giving yourself, your family (and the photographer) a heart attack in the process. Instead, pick out one MUST-HAVE photo idea, and leave room for plenty of candid moments. And start saving up for a bigger session to get the rest of those dream photos you crave.

Try this: If time and budget allows, book a FULL-LENGTH session instead of a MINI. It's toooootally worth it. But if you just can't swing it at the moment, start saving up for the future. And for now, pick out one or two MUST-HAVE photographic moments for the MINI, and save the rest for later.

Ready for even more SIMPLE TIPS on how to prep for the most stress-free family photo session EVER? Coolio. Just click here.  


Learn to use your DSLR Camera with this FREE 5-Day SHORTCUT Camera Course

Learn to use your DSLR Camera with this FREE 5-Day SHORTCUT Camera Course

Hi there... I'm Michelle.

I've been running The Suitcase Studio for almost TEN YEARS now (offering FUN lifestyle photo experiences to the adventurous, authentic + AWESOME). But it definitely has NOT been an easy path, especially at the beginning.  


I've always been an observer of people and a collector of stories. I've actually had a camera in my hand since age 9, following in my dad's footsteps to document our everyday lives. But it was all just for fun.

Taking pictures continued to be a hobby of mine as I grew up, got my degree in Psychology, and went on to work in children's group homes and art camps. (Pssst... I STILL use my psychology training and insight on each + every photo shoot as I calm the nerves of parents, maneuver kids out of meltdown mode, and help everyone connect in the most genuine of ways.)


But the funny thing was... I realized that the camera HAD always been there all along, in my hand, every step of the way. And I found my true calling. 

Sometimes you have to kiss a LOT of frogs before you find your prince. // Like, sometimes you have to try a LOT of things out before you find your true calling. Like photography was for me.&nbsp;


I was pretty cocky back then, and figured I could take better pictures than what I saw others charging for, so The Suitcase Studio was born. But the problem was THIS: while I knew I had a great creative eye, my TECHNICAL camera skills were seriously lacking. I shot in "creative auto" mode, and prayed that my clients wouldn't find out and think I was a fraud. Because I was waaaay deep in the "fake it till you make it" mode. 


So I quickly scrambled to figure it all out, and learn the technical side of photography. I scoured the internet for information, spending hours on different forums, blogs, and Pinterest. And I bought book after book on the subject. But it always ended up the same... me on the floor, head in hands, sitting in a puddle of my own tears. 


Because I just didn't GET it. It seriously felt like learning a new language at times. And I felt completely lost. 

Skip right to the parts you WANT to know in this SHORTCUT camera course


It was about that time that I put my big-girl panties on and started investing in the magic of in-person workshops and online courses. And I became addicted. Because they made me actually pick up my camera and PRACTICE. I got uncomfortable. I pushed past my limits. And I GREW.

Things started to CLICK (teehee) into place, when it wasn't all just technical jargon anymore... when I had  REASON for doing what I was doing. When I found my WHY. When I was given a clear-cut path on HOW to do something, from start to finish. And how to manipulate what I learned to adapt it to different scenarios. 


And you know what I learned?


learn how to use backlighting correctly in this free shortcut camera course


I know I'm tooootally going against the grain here. But that's okay. 

Because here's the thing. There's SOOOOO much info out there, teaching you all about the technical ins-and-outs of photography. But so much of it is stuff you really DON'T need to know, and only confuses matters more when you're never taught HOW to use the new knowledge. 


I learned the hard way, so that you don't have to. I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on in-person classes and online workshops, furthering my photography education more and more each year. I've learned all about studio set-ups, lighting, scrims and reflectors. I've learned all about in-depth posing techniques and subject interactions. And along the way, I learned what worked and what DIDN'T work for what I wanted to do. 

And now, I have a signature style that I'm known for...
A bright, vivid look, and a FUN photo experience. 

And I want to TEACH YOU THE EXACT METHODS I now use for shooting. My favorite settings, scenarios, and all the stuff you can SKIP (like the light meter and histogram). 

As a "self-taught" photographer, MOST of my A-HA moments have come during in-depth courses and by simply practicing with my camera. And since I'm all about community over competition, I want to pass along my favorite tips + tricks you simply won't find elsewhere, so that you can creatively + confidently document your everyday moments.


Because REAL LIFE doesn't have to be perfect to be BEAUTIFUL.

Real life is beautiful Learn to capture it better with the Shortcut Camera Course by The Suitcase Studio.

Sign up for the FREE
5-day "Shortcut" Camera Course 

This is the busy mom's guide to getting your camera OFF of auto-mode.  I'll be sharing some of my most sought-after tips + teachings to help you do just that. And after just FIVE DAYS, you'll be picking up your camera with confidence! 


What you'll learn:

  • how to set your camera up RIGHT, right from the start
  • what APERTURE is + why it's the key component to getting the look you crave
  • successfully switching from "auto" mode to APERTURE PRIORITY mode
  • how to get the "iPhone portrait mode" look with your DSLR
  • how to get ah-maaaaazingly beautiful pictures even when shooting in harsh sunlight
  • and more!

Sign Up HERE, or just click the image below. 


And keep me POSTED on your journey! I want to hear about your favorite A-HA moments along the way... just leave a comment below, or share your favorite pictures online using the hashtag #shortcutcameracourse.