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Updated: Nov 9, 2022

I'm going to be honest...every year I have a moment of hesitation when I head out to do Christmas Minis. This is undoubtably because at this time of year, I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed and burnt out. But every year I'm also so thankful to the families who choose me to take their holiday card photos, the couples who choose me to capture their weddings, the people who choose me to show off their business offerings. And when I keep that in mind, the hesitation disappears and I am reminded of how lucky I am to do what I get to do.

So this year, I fully remembered how lucky I am, and I showed up to my Christmas Mini Sessions absolutely pumped to have these wonderful families in front of my camera. And then SOMEHOW every single family showed up with BEAUTIFULLY COORDINATED outfits, WONDERFULLY PERFECT attitudes, and DELIGHTFUL smiles.

Here's a reminder that if you show up with a certain attitude, you can affect the attitude of the people you're with - negatively or positively. Why not make it a positive experience for everyone involved?

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Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Anyone involved in social media marketing/planning/strategy right now will tell you that whatever your content area is, you need to niche down. Really hone in on one hyper-specific area and become a pro of that area. And I totally get the logic. No one wants to be and/or work with the Jack of All Trades/Master of None. I completely understand the allure of a high school senior wanting to work with a photographer who specializes in senior photography. They have the location suggestions, the hair/makeup artist recommendations, and the expertise in posing high school seniors. And that's great! There's nothing wrong with that at all. Pick a wedding photographer for your wedding; a newborn photographer for your newborn photos; a family photographer for your family photos; etc, if that's what you want.

But here's my thing, me, alone, the owner and sole proprietor of Taylor Made Photo KC --- I want to be your photographer for life. For all your big life moments. Book me for your wedding, and you get a complimentary engagement session. So I shoot your engagement session, then your amazing wedding. Then the next year, I shoot some fall photos for your holidays cards. Maybe at some point you need headshots or branding photos for your career. Then you two move into a new house and you want to show it off with some lifestyle photos in it. The year after that, for those that want to have kiddos, we do a pregnancy announcement or maternity photos. Then newborn photos, milestone photos, family photos. And then we have a reason to see each other every year because we're documenting the way your family changes, and it's so amazing.

So it's completely wonderful for photographers to niche down to a specific area - seniors, families, newborns, weddings, whatever. But I won't be doing that because I absolutely love being the one to capture all of your big life moments. I want to be there for all of those big life moments. And I will be there as long as you let me.

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Let's say there's an occasion to get the whole family together - a wedding, a significant anniversary, a big birthday, a family reunion - and you think that seems like a great time to get photos with the whole family and individual family units at the same time. But trying to coordinate that many people, that many households, that many outfits, that many moods, that many opinions, that can all be pretty stressful, especially if 'it's all your idea.'

So what can you do to tone down the tension and make sure everyone has a good experience?

  • Have a photo list of all family combinations you want photos of ready for the photographer. This will help the photographer be able to determine how much time will be needed for the session, but it will also help keep things on track with a checklist. And making that photo list in an order that makes sense - starting small, adding onto that group little by little, (or vice versa) then switching groups - helps a lot, too.

  • Make sure everyone is fed and watered before the session starts. But then bring back-up snacks and drinks. No one is in a good mood when they're hungry. And having snacks on hand that can also be handed out between photos can work as quick bribes for kids who are getting a little restless.

  • During the session, be okay with flexibility and switching up the plan when necessary. Maybe you have a small kiddo who isn't scheduled to be in one of the first photos, but they show up in a great mood and the parents want to capitalize on that before it potentially turns. It's okay to ditch the order of the list if it's for the benefit of getting the best out of everyone. But make sure that someone is keeping track of what photo combinations have been done and which haven't so you don't accidentally forget one by skipping around.

  • With a large group, it's best not to be too nit-picky about wardrobe. You can state a preference for a certain color palette or theme, but within that, let people wear items they want to, whether they're most comfortable in jeans and a shirt or in a dress with accessories. Don't risk having people show up grumpy because they're in clothes they don't like, aren't comfortable in, or don't feel their best in.

  • If your session will have small children, bring along a couple of their favorite toys or books. At any signs of discontent, you can take a break with them and let them play or read to them. And if the worst case scenario is they end up only smiling for photos if they get to have their stuffy with them, then that's fine! What a fun memory for when they're older and they can remember how much they loved that particular item. Plus, isn't having a small distraction in their hand better than having a crying toddler for the photo?

  • When there are physical considerations for any participant, keep that in mind when choosing a location, determining how many different locations you'll use, what props you have (blankets, chairs, stools, etc.), and the terrain. If there is someone who is somewhat limited in mobility, keep your location(s) close to a place you can park, fairly level ground, and bring along seating if that would be helpful as well. Even without mobility considerations, with a larger group, having some seating options to put people on different levels can be really helpful so you can avoid having everyone stand in a straight line.

  • Last tip: have a sense of humor. When you have a bigger group of people, you're going to have opinions and attitudes and preconceptions and ideas about the importance of photos. Kids will take turns having meltdowns. Adults will take turns rolling their eyes or snapping at their spouses. The weather might even go back and forth with cooperating. Keep in mind the reason you're there: everyone is together, maybe for the first time in awhile; the people there all love each other, even if you can't stand each other sometimes; and having photos together is important for so many reasons. When something goes wrong, laugh about it, adjust as necessary, and move on. Don't get hung up on little things not going to plan. Don't get frustrated with little snafus. Enjoy the company of people you love, let your photographer take the reigns, and remember how grateful you will be to have photos of all these people you love at the end of it all.

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