La Femme Boudoir Photography

Preparing for a Portrait Mini Session

May 7, 2019

Mini Sessions are a bit different than traditional, longer sessions. Our time is more limited, and we work more under pressure. That being said, less time can allow for the best kinds of photos! Less posed, real moments. This is a chance to let personalities shine. But sometimes that pressure can lead to a bit of anxious anticipation! I'm here to reassure you that you have nothing to worry about & that you're in a good hands. In the spring I usually hold Mother's Day Mini Sessions, and around the holidays I host Holiday Mini sessions! So this post is geared toward those however these tips can be used toward any family session and any occasion!

How to Prepare for your Mini Portrait Session with an Infant or Newborn

How to Prepare & Dress your Infant or Newborn

Unless you're looking to make a fashion statement, or you're dressing up for a holiday card, I suggest keeping clothing basic and neutral, and any patterns on the more delicate side. We don’t want any distractions from what matters most - your babe's natural, perfect little features! If you have a special outfit you’d like to incorporate, make sure that it fits the baby well and doesn’t crowd their tiny features. Bring a pacifier along for soothing if using one, favorite rattle or stuffed animal, favorite blanket, or anything else that’s important to you or the baby. If you're hoping for sleepy newborn photos you'll want to keep the baby awake for an hour before the session, but not long enough so that they're overtired and cranky, and make sure they're well fed so we don't spend our time together feeding. If you're hoping for photos of them awake, be sure they have a good nap directly before we start our session and plan to feed right before we start. Please bring your baby warmly dressed in whatever he or she will be wearing for the session. Bring along extra milk, diapers, and clothes, plus extra clothes for anyone who will be in the photos just in case of any accidents or spit-ups.

*Side note: Newborns usually require a longer session than a mini, but we'll do our best to get what we can in the allotted time! I wouldn't come with any particular expectations for their performance. We will work with their current mood, sleepy or awake, and make the most of the time we have! Keep following...

sister kissing baby's head

Infants Don't Always Sleep Through Sessions

Since we only have about 20-30 minutes, which is not long for a newborn session, please don’t expect your baby to sleep the entire time. We’ll do our best to prepare them, and then we just work around his or her mood and take what we can get! Luckily I’ve worked with hundreds of babies (including my own 2) so I’ve got lots of tricks up my sleeve and will use all of them to ensure we get the photos we’re hoping for.

How to Prepare for your Mini Portrait Session with a toddler or child

How to Prepare your Toddler or Child for a Mini Portrait Session

Let's be honest. We are all nervous about how our toddlers are going to perform during a photography session. They can be especially unruly if they have a new brother or sister, demanding all of the attention they once had to themselves. Toddlers and children can be very sensitive and emotional little people. The best way to get the most positive behavior from them is to be easy on them. I suggest you keep the expectations very low and don't overly prepare them ahead of time. In my experience, the more you try to "prepare" them, the more quickly they feel overworked and sooner they disengage. If your toddler has just become particular about what they wear, lay out a couple outfits that work for you and let them choose their favorite. Give them some control and tell them they look super cool! Make it fun, tell them you're going somewhere new for a walk, let them bring their favorite toy/wagon/etc. and keep the pressure off. If they act up during the session, we want to distract, distract, distract, and use positive reinforcement only. If they simply do not want to participate, I want you to know that I won't make them and I don't want you to either. We'll keep shooting without them, though, 9 times out of 10 they end up deciding they don't want to be left out and end up participating on their own terms! Win, win.

Let's have some fun!

During the session we want them to have a blast and feel super loved. You may want to bring their favorite toy or book; something that gets them excited but also keeps their attention in a small area. We want their personality to shine, so whether it be tickling them, whispering silly things, or you standing behind me with their favorite stuffed animal talking to them, we are looking for authentic smiles and expression here.  Letting me know your child’s favorites and dislikes can also be very helpful in conversation and will help me gain their trust.

Toddlers like treats, but treats don't have to be sweet!

Toddlers and kids love treats and react well to positive reinforcement. Bring along a few healthy snacks in case hunger strikes (or bribes are needed!) but please do NOT give your child candy or sweets, or tell your child ahead of time that if they’re good they’ll get treats. You're welcome to bring them secretly and we can whip them out if absolutely necessary, but only as a last resort because once that sugar hits we might lose them. I suggest alternative treats like stickers to encourage them.

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For the Parents: Preparing Yourselves for a Mini Portrait Session

How to dress yourselves and your family 

Keep clothing simple & coordinated. I know that many of us have animals who shed, so try to make sure clothing is free of wrinkles/lint and bring a lint roller if you do have a shedder. Let me know ahead of time if there’s anything you’re self conscious about so I can keep that in mind during our session. This can include something about your appearance, demeanor, or even that you never know how to smile for photos. We've all been there, and knowing this information will allow me to adjust for those issues. Also, please dress accordingly so that those issues don’t distract you from loving your images. For instance, if you want to conceal your arms then be sure to wear longer sleeves. Your family's outfit colors and patterns should be consistent; brights with brights, neutrals with neutrals, pastels with pastels. Pops of florals or plaids can also be fun! Women: Wear makeup as you normally would, however bear in mind that makeup photographs about 40% lighter than it looks in person so having it done professionally could be the way to go!

Again, these sessions are quick and I will need some time between sessions to sanitize and get ready for the next. Please come dressed and ready to get right into it!

Holiday Mini Session portrait with Christina Wesley Photography

...What NOT to do Before or During a Mini Portrait Session

Please do not feed or promise your children candy or sweets before or during our session. Sugar may send them off the deep end and cut our session short, so we’ll only bust that out if we absolutely need it. If nothing works, we accept that they don't want to participate and treat it as a non-issue and we'll keep shooting. 9 times out of 10, they'll decide to join us again on their own terms.


Please do not wear wrinkled or linty clothing, large bold prints or patterns, zippers, and try to stay away from too-tight clothing. Keep it simple and let stuff that matters be the boldest part of the image:  L O V E  ❤️


Do not come with a very specific image in mind for newborns or infants; we are at the mercy of their mood, so we'll prepare them as best we can and then work with them as they are, awake or asleep, and get the best photos we can with what they give us.


Please do not reprimand, threaten with punishment, or punish your children before or during our session. I know what it’s like to have a child act out or not pay attention when we need it most, and it can be quite frustrating. Please take a step back and let me work my magic. I have some tricks up my sleeve, and if I need your help I’ll surely ask for it! The key here is to keep this fun, positive, and rewarding.


Do not be too shy to make photo/pose suggestions. They’re always welcome! While I usually do things in a certain way for a certain reason, I’m all ears. This is a mini session so we do have limited time, but we’ll fit in as much as we can within that time frame. You're also welcome to send me photos you love ahead of the session so that I can come prepared with that style in mind.


Do not be afraid to laugh and have fun. This isn’t all about posing; it’s about the experience, connection, and the love you share with your family. I’ll put you in the best light, step back to adjust my settings, and if you guys are doing something cute I’m just going to start shooting! If you’re waiting for me to pose and direct you then I’ll do just that. But don’t hold back on kissing and loving on your family and letting them know how much you appreciate this experience with them. Ugh, now I'm getting choked up... 😅

I'm a mother who knows how much these in-between moments count

Smiles are great, but laughs are better. There are many reasons we book sessions like these. We aren't always able to capture our children the way we wish, because let's be honest... most of the time they're better for other people and hardest on us. Not only do I know this from personal experience, but I hear it from parents all the time. Even my children know that there's always a camera nearby, and they expect it to show up, yet Sam always stops whatever cute thing he's doing and runs away once he sees it. I know it's a game to him, and I also know that I literally have 100 million cute pictures of him so what's another? But there's something about the little things that happen between the lines, and those are the moments I'm looking to capture during these sessions, and I'm sure you are hoping I'll catch those too. So don't pay too much attention to me or how your family is doing during the session. On November 15th, or whichever day your Mini Session takes place, you're off the hook. I want you to work as LITTLE as you have to for this. Let him wear what he wants, and let me work my magic. Enjoy watching someone else try to get the photos you wish you could get yourself. Enjoy your family, let them know how much you love them, and let them show you how much they love you in their own little way. Let's have some fun with this! I'll see you soon!


I would love to hear from you.

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