Kim Hildebrand: Mini Sessions on Film

It is no secret that I love Mini Sessions.  They can be a fun and profitable event for a photographer (See my 3 tips for creating profitable mini sessions here).  But I've always shot my mini's digitally.  When I saw Kim's beautiful FILM mini's I knew I had to find out more about her approach.  

This is what she had to say.

From Kim:

Yikes!  Shooting mini-sessions on film!

I have to be honest.  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with mini-sessions.  I loved that I could work with a lot of families in a short amount of time while providing them with their need for a few photos, and that I could earn a good chunk of change doing it.  Win/win!  EXCEPT, when said minis were sucking up all of my free time with culling and editing, especially during the busy season.  That’s what I used to hate. In 2014 and earlier, I took around 300 photos for one mini.  Yes, one 20-minute mini.  And I know I’m not the only one!  

So this year I decided to try using film for my minis.  I was afraid of the change, though.  I was scared I wouldn’t be able to capture what families needed in a 20-minute time frame.  I was worried my regulars, who were used to the fast-paced mini with a million clicks of the shutter, would feel cheated from hearing only 32 clicks.  But I couldn’t NOT try.  I had experienced success with film during regular family sessions.  I knew what I was doing.  I knew that I hated editing and it always caused a bottleneck in my workflow, caused me to stress and then finally get sick.  I was worried about the cost, too.  Part of the money I would make would go back into processing all the film.  But I knew it would save me time on the back end.

I did a little math and figured I would use two rolls of 120 film per mini.  I did a little advertising and scheduled a few different rounds of minis in some of my favorite locations - Boise, ID, Coeur d’Alene, ID, and in my hometown of Seattle, WA.  I had more of a shooting plan ahead of time.  I had an assistant, too, as I had no idea how the flow would go.  I prepped every customer with “the change” and answered questions.  I was ready.

I have to tell you, so many of the kids were surprised at how loud my camera was!  (I use a Pentax 645n. Yes, it is very loud.)  They wanted to know what film was and where the picture was.  They were extremely curious and it was so cute!  I soon realized 20-minutes was plenty of time to capture everything my customers needed.  It was fun.  Families were less manic,  maybe due to the pause in the action while changing film.  They were able to take a breather, even at a mini.  We were all more intentional and focused because we planned more.  But can I tell you the best part??  Packaging up and sending the film off that day and being done.  DONE.  I could move on with regular sessions, marketing, and the 50 million other things small business owners have on their to-do list.

Ten days later I got my notification email and I downloaded all the scans.  It was Christmas!  (So cliché, I know, but so true.)  I perused the photos and got to re-live everything we did that day.  I tweaked a few scans, and uploaded all the galleries that same day.  I sent out the notification emails and I was done and so happy with the results, as were my families.  Win/win!

I will definitely make some tweaks to my system next year, but I will definitely use film again.  It just works for me.

So if you’re a film lover but have been hesitant about using it with minis, I daresay you should try it!