Mini-sessions, when done right, are fast-paced and packed with families. They can be stressful if you try to go it alone. That’s why I’m a huge believer in bringing an assistant to help you with your mini-sessions!
In the past, I’ve used a friend willing to help, a high school student interested in photography, a newer photographer wanting to learn about minis, and even my mom (who just loves to help and support me) as my assistant. I typically pay them $10/hour for their time.
There are a few ways you can use your assistant to maximize their time in the best ways possible:
If you aren’t used to shooting 15-minute minis back-to-back, you’ll learn very quickly that it is VITAL that you stay on-time. You can have your assistant give you time-checks every 5 minutes so you always know how much time you have left.
By using Mini-Sessions Shooting Workflow, you’ll be able to get all the shots you need within that 15 minutes! When your assistant gives you the final 5-minute warning, you will be able to gauge what poses you should skip (like maybe each child individually with mom/dad) so you will finish on time.
If you’re shooting a little ways away from where your clients will be parking, it’s a great idea to have your assistant be there to walk your clients to the spot you’ll be shooting and then back to their car. It takes more time than you realize just walking. When you only have 15 minutes to shoot, you want to make sure that you spend the most time that you can shooting.
Typically I’ll have my assistant tell my families about when they should expect their photos and what the delivery process looks like as they’re walking back to their cars. This allows me to say a quick “goodbye” and send them off so I can start shooting with my next family.
In my famous Final Info Email, I tell all of my families to arrive early to make sure they get their full shooting time. Because of this, we often have families waiting around while I’m shooting.
We take this opportunity for my assistant to help prepare them for our session! She will talk with the kids and start getting them warmed up. If mom needs a place to touch up her hair or makeup, my assistant will show her where she can do that. She also answers any questions they may have before the session.
Because she’s also watching the clock, she’ll usually spend that time going between the next family and the spot where I’m shooting. We have a designated spot for families to wait behind me (so they aren’t accidentally in my shot), so she doesn’t have to walk far for that.
Another thing you can have your assistant do is to help get those beautiful, genuine smiles from the kiddos. Have her jump around, make silly faces, all the noises…whatever works to get the kids to smile!
I tell families to bring bribe candy or a favorite toy, so she’s usually the holder of all the things. I have her stand right behind me so that the kids are looking in my direction, and I just snap away!
In the age of Covid-19, this step is pretty important for the safety of my clients. This year I’ll be having my assistant clean and sanitize any props we have that the previous family touched during their session. This process doesn’t have to be long as long as it’s thorough.
We have minimized our prop usage because we know we’ll be sanitizing between every session. Our sessions are still scheduled back-to-back because the cleaning process shouldn’t be long. (It probably also helps for the next family to see it happening so they feel more comfortable.)
Assistants are SUCH huge helpers, and are 100% worth the cash. They help elevate your client experience while helping you out at the same time.
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