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!

Now approaching

2019 HOLIDAY MINI SESSIONS

Each session will be 30-45 minutes at my studio, indoors, and if weather permits we can use the area outside as well!

My studio is located at 56 Arbor St, Hartford CT in the Real Artways building. I'm suite 108! Holiday sessions will be held on November 23, 2019 (unless we've personally chosen a different date together.)

We'll be shooting against an off-white background as well as an Evergreen backdrop, and you'll be provided with a mix of color and black & white images. I'll also have some holiday props available for the silly ones!

 

Holiday Mini Sessions by Christina Wesley Photography

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 minimal. We don’t want to distract from that beautiful little bundle of perfection! 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.

Holiday Mini Session portrait with Christina Wesley Photography

Infants Don't Always Sleep Through Sessions

Since we only have about 30-40 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.

Holiday Mini Session portrait with Christina Wesley Photography

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!

If we are shooting outdoors we could face some wind. Bring hairspray and anticipate any similar needs ahead of time keeping the elements in mind. A little wind can be great! But if it’s very windy, or wet from prior rain, we will likely shoot in the studio instead.

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.

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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  ❤️

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Nov 23rd, 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!

Holiday Mini Session portrait with Christina Wesley Photography

I would love to hear from you.

 Did you book a Mother's Day or Holiday Session?

Tell me about your family so I can relate to them the day of the session.

 

Do you want to book a future session?

I'd love to hear what's keeping you and how I can help this dream become your reality.

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Allison Gray. Adventurous, an avid runner and Hash House Harrier, a dog lover, as good natured as they get, and super freakin' talented. I worked with Allison for the first time in 2017. When we met to get acquainted and talk about our approaching session, she humbly and simply told me that she was an artist. Weeks later, after that session, we went out for lunch and I got to know a bit more about her and what exactly she creates. "I paint pictures of peoples' pets," she told me. She started doing it as a side gig and opened an Etsy shop, but she hadn't anticipated just how much of a demand there would be for the kind of art she was making. Business boomed and her artwork became her full time gig. For an artist that's a huge accomplishment, and totally one she deserves.

This time around I approached Allison in hopes that she would let me come and observe/photograph her process as she works. This is not typically the kind of sessions I photograph, but that was the whole point. Sometimes, as an artist, you find the kind of inspiration you're craving by looking outside of the box. I typically do photograph people more than anything else, but usually my focus is on relationships between people. Relationships between parents and their children, among siblings, and womens' relationships with themselves and their bodies. I often find inspiration not by looking at photography magazines, but instead by looking at Vogue, magazines like Parenting, or even just watching movies. One of my best friends, Jamie Bannon of www.JamieBannon.com, is also a fellow photographer and we take our babes on walks together often. On our walks we do a lot of talking about photography and where our businesses are headed. Jamie and I are both very much inspired by real life and real events, much less by posed and completely controlled portrait sessions, and we talk about our love for documentary style sessions often. I feel like our walks are filled with very productive rants about what we love and hate about running a photography business and what is expected/demanded of us as photographers. I always come away from our walks with a reinforced appreciation for being able to run my own business; for getting to decide exactly what projects are worth time away from my family, and for only getting to do work that inspires me. Blogging is not one of those things that I would say I enjoy spending time on. I don't hate it, but not every session I photograph makes me want to run to the computer and sit there for hours writing about it. I did come to notice though that when I pick up extra projects for myself, those tend to be the ones that excite me the most and end up on my blog. I mostly pick these projects up only when time allows for it or if I feel like my photography could help heal someone going through a hardship. I decided that, regardless, I need to make more time for photography that inspires me and maybe even others. So now I will be picking one up once a month and you'll likely be reading all about each one on here.

This project in particular is my first monthly extracurricular and one that I really, really enjoyed photographing. Allison is an insanely talented artist and a pleasure to spend time with. Her dog Banjo, an adorable boxer who keeps her company around the clock, was the cherry on top!

You can find out a bit more about Allison here.
You can purchase her artwork on Etsy at GoGrayArtwork and on her website at www.gograyartwork.com 
Her artwork has been swooped up by Wayfair and Homegoods too!
Here are a few images from our session. Enjoy!

​About 3 years ago I had the honor of meeting and getting to know Justine Timbro (then, Spada.) She was about to be married to the love of her life, Jordan, and was as excited as could be to embark on their new journey together. About a year and a half ago, they welcomed their first baby girl Carmelina into their lives. Her pregnancy went smoothly, no hiccups, and their baby girl was and still is as perfect as ​baby girls get. Justine decided to open up a home daycare named Mama Bear Day Care and spend day in and day out with ​Carmelina. Twenty months later on April 25, 2018 they welcomed their second child, Lucas Leonard Timbro. After yet another smooth pregnancy they were incredibly excited to meet their little boy!

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​Just a few hours into his ​life I saw the Instagram post that he was here. I was so excited to see his adorable little picture pop up on my screen! This family is so incredibly sweet and although I hadn't yet met her husband or their baby girl I always enjoy seeing the photos Justine posts. Such a happy, beautiful family of faith. As I began to read the caption though I realized that ​Lucas and his family were in need of a really big real life miracle. Little Lucas was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck ​twice and ​some pretty big and scary things were happening inside his little body. His parents nor the doctors had ​any idea about any of it until now.

More...

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​This little guy was in need of lots of TLC, nevermind medical care. Justine and Jordan were completely shocked and incredibly scared. The relied on their faith and the doctors Hartford Hospital  to carry them through the first hours of Lucas' life. Then, another post.

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​Little Lucas was having his first of possibly many surgeries at one day old​; a tap would be put into his head so ​the doctors could start relieving the fluid ​from his brain.  The doctors diagnosed Lucas with "Hypernatremia” - which simply means that he has a high concentration of sodium levels in his blood. The doctors believe that this correlates with the pressure his pituitary gland was under when his brain had fluid built up, pre-shunt. Reading all of this, as a mother of two living babies and two angel babies, my heart broke for Justine and Jordan. I knew they were strong-- maybe among the strongest thanks to their faith-- but the fear and helplessness that a parent feels when their baby is in pain is unbearable and unimaginable​. Was he going to be okay?  What is baby Lucas going to have to endure throughout this journey? Would he be affected just for now, or for the rest of his life? The next day ​brought ​two more posts.

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​You can literally feel the hope and faith in his father's words. He and Justine were rooting for their baby boy with everything in the​m; LT would go home with them and he would thrive. They felt nothing but hope and thanks for the doctors and nurses surrounding them, helping them and Lucas through this ​tribulation. They thanked each one, and eachother, personally and publicly. ​Love and gratitude at its finest.

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I reached out to Justine the day after I saw her first post about Lucas. I wanted nothing more than to give her a huge, huge hug and console her. No words are the right words when the fate of a woman's child is at stake. The only thing I could possibly offer her that could make a difference, I felt, was photography. I offered to come to the hospital; I felt that sooner would be better ​just in case. ​But she had so much faith that he would be home soon so we decided that we would hold off until then. Two days shy of a month old little Lucas ​was discharged! He was finally going home.

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​Justine messaged me that same day to tell me the amazing news! We set a date for our session the next week ​and I was so excited to finally meet the rest of her family. When I arrived at their house the day of the session everyone was in great spirits, baby Lucas was peacefully napping ​on Jordan, and Jordan's mom was hanging with little Carmelina. There was such a lovely sense of peace and happiness in their home and we all had a great time just hanging out, talking, and photographing. ​Here are some of my favorites from our day together.

Lucas is home but the Timbro Family still has a long road of doctors visits and discoveries ahead of them. If you'd like to follow the Baby Lucas and the Timbro Family's progress, Jordan is on Instagram @Jordan_Timbro and Justine is @Justine_Timbro. They've created an account for baby Lucas and he is @Lucas_Timbro. #LTstrong is their hashtag.

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So this past Saturday was awesome. Just awesome.

Backstory: A couple months back, while attending the CTPPA annual Converge convention, I was so inspired by the speaker I was watching (Marie of www.fearlessandframed.com) that I decided to do an impromptu giveaway on Instagram for a Day in the Life Session. There are a few great things about giveaways: 1. You get to photograph in the way that you love to. Your rules, your style, your favorite kind of magic. 2. You get to make someone's day BIG TIME by giving them photographs they'll love forever and ever and ever. 3. If you're lucky, the winning family will allow you to share the photographs with the world and hopefully convince every mother and her partner that they, too, need their family to be photographed in this fashion. I think this giveaway session nailed those bullets dead on and I'm so in love with that.

So the winner of the giveaway was actually a high school friend named Heather. I explained to her that what I wanted to do was a Day in the Life documentary session with her family. I pointed her to a previous blog post of mine which would lay out all of the details, and just like that she was game! She got her family on board and this past Saturday was the big day.

I can't even put into words how nice and refreshing it is to spend time with such a nice family like Heather's out in their yard on a beautiful, sunny, 75 degree day. Her husband Matt is also from Southington and is just a few years older than us. The first time we worked together was in the studio a little over 4 years ago when their oldest daughter Cameron was just a newborn. Heather and Matt now have three beautiful, spunky, sweet children together and live near Roger's Orchards in the back side of Southington. When I arrived at their house, Matt was just getting home in his truck and Heather was getting the older two kiddos together to go out back with some bubbles. Their dog Bear met me at the front door along with their middle babe Matthew. I could tell Matthew was a little skeptical at first, but he quickly warmed up to me. Cameron and Matthew got their shoes on and ran out to the back patio where we spent a while blowing bubbles & playing on the swing set. Soon after, Dad came out to join us with baby Benjamin, who just woke up from a nap and was beaming with smiles! We caught up on old times, laughed about how much life has changed since starting families, and shared stories of common experiences as parents. When lunchtime hit, Matt threw some kielbasa on the grates of a great big stone fireplace he helped to build, and the family ate outside on the patio. I have to say, their kids are some of the better eaters I've seen! And any parent knows what a struggle mealtime can be, especially parents of  three young children. (#toddlersknowbest.) For the Kowals, though, it was a breeze and a pleasure. After lunchtime, everyone headed inside for a bit of jumping on the bed, followed by books and pre-naptime snuggles.

It’s incredibly enjoyable to be able to just hang out with a family and take pictures with them without the pressures of smiling, posing, and getting everyone to do the same thing at the same time. As a photographer you’re left open to capturing the magic that can only be seen in the details. The moments that, as parents, mean so much to us now and will especially in the future when our babies are grown and off to college. The secret expressions that happen when they’re not paying attention, the silliness when they catch you catching them, and even the shy bits they give us are all part of the beautiful innocence of childhood. And as the parent, when you’re busy lifting your children up into trees and fixing their bubbles, you don’t have enough hands to carry a camera and catch these moments yourself. If only you could just freeze time or press rewind. Well, that’s where I come in. I was there to catch these moments for Heather and Matt so they could leave the camera behind and focus on enjoying their little ones.

Thank you Heather & Matt for participating in the giveaway and letting me be a part of a day in your lives together. It was more beautiful than I could have imagined. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. Xo!

Enjoy the show & don't forget to turn the volume up!

To see more work, visit www.TinaShoots.com

and follow my instagram @tina_shoots.

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