Photographers, this is for you! I got a lot of DM’s after I chatted a bit about my mini session this past weekend, and specifically about how I am typically in a good amount of physical pain/discomfort the day following a mini session. This is pretty understandable for us photogs. We’re not only on our feet all day, but we’re constantly moving. Bending, squatting, laying down, moving things around, lifting things, running back and forth. All. Day. Long. Not to mention we’re holding and moving around with a (in some cases, depending on your gear) pretty heavy camera in our hands the whole time!
The first time I ran mini sessions, I made a LOT of mistakes. I jumped in head first and was so excited, I missed planning for some things that, had I thought about it better ahead of time, would have honestly seemed like common sense. But I learn best by doing and those mistakes allowed me to see what I needed to change for my future mini sessions! Fast forward to today and I am confident in my mini session planning and have implemented some strategies that not only help the day run smoother, but help me to recover and feel back on my feet even faster! I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with mini sessions or who felt like they walked into a brick wall the day after, so I wanted to share some of my secrets with you! Here’s my Top 12 Tips for Running Mini Sessions:
1. Prep 1-2 Days Before: Prepping ahead of time is crucial to setting yourself up for success. Not only does it lower stress and give you peace of mind, but it gives you plenty of time to run out and get anything you may need! It’s also important to remember you’re not just prepping your gear. Use this time to prep anything else you have planned. Special set ups, wait stations for your clients, snacks, etc. If you have an assistant scheduled to help you, ensure they know the plan and are locked in. Make sure any other vendors you have on site that day know all the logistics as well! Last but not least, is your day scheduled and planned out? Do you know your timeline? Ensuring you do all of these things 1-2 days prior, allows you to get a full nights rest and feel confident you are ready to rock these sessions!
2. Gear Backup: Ensuring your gear is prepped and ready to go is something you should always be doing before your sessions. But do you also have backup plans in place in case something fails? Make sure you have plenty of fully charged batteries and clear + formatted memory cards ready to go. Additionally, it never hurts to make sure you have your backup camera handy just in case something goes wrong. Knowing you have these already prepped, and in an easy-to-access location, makes your day run so smooth. Let me tell you from experience, fumbling around looking for a charged battery or trying to find an empty memory card is NOT what you want to be doing during a mini session where time is so crucial!
3. Hydrate + Fuel: As photographers, we are often so worried about our gear and client experience, that we forget to take care of ourselves. YOU are a key element here! Make sure you’re prepping your body by drinking plenty of water the day before, and eating right. No crazy junk food today. Give yourself the fuel it needs to help you have energy all day with a good balance of proteins and carbs.
4. Scheduling Cut Off Time: Set a date/time your clients have until to book your mini sessions. For example, you launch your sessions on a Monday, and tell your clients they have two weeks to the day to book them. Why do this? For one, it creates FOMO and a sense of urgency for your clients to hurry up and book you before you sell out, or before the cut off date. Giving them a strict deadline (and sticking to it!) also sets the tone and reminder that you are running a business and not a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having photography as a hobby, and if that’s your jam, awesome! But the majority of photographers who run mini sessions are doing this as a source of income, and it can be hard for the public to remember that when it comes to small business owners. Set your tone and stick to it. Also, it allows you to know exactly what to expect and to prep accordingly. You deserve the peace of mind of knowing whats coming!
5. Rest Up: Go. To. Sleep. Seriously y’all, the night before mini sessions is not the night to be up late doing last minute prep, or going out and partying. Stay home, watch a good movie or read a book, and turn in early. I promise your body will thank you for letting it get a full and good nights rest before it has to show up for you in all kinds of ways the next day!
1. Hydrate + Fuel: This is the #1 tip on a mini day because it is so easy to forget. It is also the NUMBER ONE thing that has changed how my body feels the day of and the day after! Making sure you have water and food on hand and available throughout the day (and then making sure to actually consume it!) has truly made my body feel so much better. When I used to forget to eat or drink during the day, my muscles would cramp easier and longer, and the next day I would literally feel like I’d had 10 shots of tequila the night before. Ugh. Remembering to take care of myself allows me to feel better, serve my clients better (because I feel good) and be ready to get right back to work the next day!
2. Buffer Session Times and/or Schedule Lunch: Y’all. I can not being to tell you how happy I was when I started doing this for my mini sessions. The first couple times I ran minis, they were 30 minute sessions, scheduled every 30 minutes, all. day. long. I was exhausted beyond belief, and it didn’t allow me any time to take care of myself! Now I schedule in (depending on the type of sessions) 5-15 minutes between my sessions and a lunch break for myself! Yes, this means I take on less sessions during the day, but to me it is so worth it. I’d rather work smarter and not harder. So if it means that I take 1-2 less sessions than I would without those buffer times, but I end up feeling great and not loosing a day of work after because I’m stuck in bed feeling like crap..then it is SO worth it to me! It allows me to utilize that time to take care of myself, and bonus, it’s a buffer in case someone runs late or you end up over shooting by a few minutes.
3. Have Help: Having an assistant to help you out not only makes your day run smoother, but allows for a better client experience. Instead of leaving your clients waiting or not knowing where they should go/what they should do while they wait, your assistant can greet them and help them settle in as well as answer any questions. They also can help you out if you need someone to hold your reflector, or move a piece of furniture, or keep the snack table stocked. Now I’m going to be honest, I do not pay to have an assistant on mini days. I typically have a loving friend or family member who is willing to help me out, or have someone who has previously offered to assist me. It’s a great opportunity for someone who is brand new to the photography world to see how mini sessions work (which can be super intimidating!) and learn from someone more experienced. It’s a win-win. You get free help and get to know you’re helping educate a fellow tog, and they get the experience that so few photogs are willing to give by letting them see the BTS of how they run the show! We all started somewhere, remember?
4. Dress Appropriate: Ugh, I learned this one the hard way. I wore uncomfortable jeans and a nice jacket with boots for my first minis because I thought my clients cared if I “looked nice” more than how good their pictures were. Let me tell y’all – they do not care what you wear! They care how they are treated, and the quality of the product they paid for. Your comfort when you are doing so much physical activity is key! I am always wearing leggings and some sort of comfortable sweater/top when I shoot minis now it is a game changer. If I’m not doing something like boudoir where I’ll have to be climbing on a bed, then I am also wearing very supportive tennis shoes!
5. Stretch: Stretch those muscles, baby! Use your buffer or lunch time to do a few stretches and absolutely do a good 10-30 minutes of stretching at the end of the night. Adding in a foam roller is a great idea too. Once I started doing this I noticed a huge difference in how my body reacted the next day!
1. Don’t Over-Exert Yourself: Seems logical, but I think as entrepreneurs this is easier said than done for most of us. I generally will not schedule meetings or shoots the day after a mini session so I can rest. I use this time instead to catch up on emails, office work, and of course – edit!
2. Exercise: Please 👏 Go 👏 Do 👏 This 👏. Nothing fancy here. I’m not saying go to the gym and do a full 2 hour cardio + weights workout. But do some form of exercise the day after to get the blood flowing to your muscles! I typically will do about a half hour walk followed by some stretching. It’s not exactly what I feel like doing, but boy does my body thank me after.
I hope this list helps you ROCK your mini sessions, and ensure you are feeling great during and after! I hear so many photographers complain about mini sessions because let’s be honest y’all, they aren’t easy. It’s hard being on your game all day, plus you’re bouncing through completely different clients all day long. But I can tell you that my mindset towards minis completely changed after I implemented all these practices. I really enjoy doing them now and always end up having a blast!
What do you think? Will you start incorporating these practices into your minis? Let me know what you think of these tips in the comments – and tell me what your favorite one is!
Photos of me taken on my camera by Nikki at Every Wave Photo. Edits are by me. Thanks Nikki for these fun shots!