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Tree Farm Mini Sessions

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Tree Farm Mini Sessions

By Paige Cerulli

Tree farm mini sessions are a great way to capture special holiday memories for families and kick off the Christmas season. Professional photographers share tips to help you make the most of your Christmas tree farm mini sessions and celebrate the Christmas spirit.

What is a Tree Farm Mini Session?

Tree farm mini sessions are short photo shoots designed to capture a whole family in a seasonal Christmas setting. Holding these shoots at Christmas tree farms means you’ll have a naturally picturesque and seasonal backdrop that gives you countless shot and posing opportunities. By scheduling these mini sessions back-to-back, you can complete many shoots in a single day without having to travel to different locations or reset props. Families can enjoy these holiday photos for a small investment and you can maximize your productivity.

What to charge for a tree farm mini session

The photographers we spoke with charge anywhere from $300 to $500 for a 15- to 20-minute mini session, which includes digital downloads of 10 to 15 images. The photographers offer families the option to buy additional images, or to even purchase the entire digital image gallery, which can help to maximize your return on each session. 


Posing tips

Kansas-based photographer Cassandra Dickerson, owner of Cassandra Joy Photo + Film, prefers a simple posing prompt for families: Walking. “Walking together will always be a favorite prompt because you can switch up how people walk, the distance between families to provide more layering, and how they interact with one another,” says Dickerson. “It’s a simple prompt, but a great way to get a lot of different photos.”

Lana Ozik of Seattle-based Lana Sky Photography uses several different prompts to get quality photos. She encourages kids to hide behind a tree and play peekaboo. Ozik finds that encouraging younger children to smell a tree and tell her if it smells like bubble gum can also lead to engaging poses.

Prop ideas

The beauty of shooting at a Christmas tree farm is that the farm, itself, is full of props, so you can bring minimal props of your own. “I bring a few blankets, but my photography is much more about the setting and the connection than holiday-themed props,” says Dickerson.

Ozik also chooses to use minimal props during her tree farm minis. “I prefer to do my sessions without props so families can interact with each other instead of with my props,” she says. She brings two blankets for sitting shots and to add variety to the photos. “One blanket will be neutral, and the other will be Christmassy,” she says. Ozik also brings a couple of simple props, like a jingle bell or a small plastic Christmas tree, which she uses to help get the kids’ attention and keep them engaged if needed.

These prop ideas can enhance your shoot:

  • Different colored Christmas-themed blankets
  • A traditional sled
  • A classic pickup truck
  • A few Christmas tree ornaments

What’s the best time of year for a tree farm mini session?

Ozik schedules tree farm mini sessions from mid-October to early November. “This helps to avoid crowds and gives people plenty of time to print their photos,” she explains.

Similarly, Dickerson starts her sessions in late October and continues them until the weekend before Thanksgiving. “I usually do three to four days of minis, which totals about 25 to30 mini sessions,” she says.

Dickerson notes that she loves the feel of tree farm mini sessions. “They are such a kickoff to the holiday season and everyone is excited and happy to be there,” she says. “I stress about all the editing, but I always look back on them and they are favorites from the year.”

Ozik highlights the importance of delivering the images in a timely manner as promised. “People are booking these sessions to use in their holiday cards or social media,” she notes. While Ozik shoots many sessions, she works to deliver the photos within seven days after the client has chosen their images. “I have created systems that allow me to do that,” she says. “I also have an editor [whom] I have meticulously trained and who is very detail-oriented to produce high-quality work.”


What should the subjects wear?

When suggesting outfits for the family to wear, be sure to consider the colors present at the farm. “There will be lots of green with the backdrop, so you may want to avoid a lot of green in your wardrobe,” says Dickerson. She suggests families choose coordinating, but not matching outfits. “Choose two to three main colors and a neutral color (tan, cream, navy, black, white) for your family’s color palette,” she recommends. “Start with one outfit and then build on it for the remainder of the family.”

Ozik also prefers neutral and organic tones. “I like how cozy outfits look on a Christmas tree farm,” she says. “Add a touch of funky, holiday-themed accessories, such as sweaters, hats, and mittens.”

Consider providing families with a style guide and examples of potential outfits that will work well. Don’t forget to encourage families to dress for the weather, especially as temperatures drop in November.

Tips for a successful tree farm mini session

Preparation is key to ensuring a successful mini session, and Ozik gives her clients specific and helpful information to help the session run smoothly. “Over-explain and account for small details,” she says. “For example, you can advise your clients to dress appropriately so the kids are warm and comfortable and enjoy the session.” She reminds families to come to the session prepared to have fun.

Dickerson also makes sure that her sessions end with a fun touch. She focuses on getting the traditional shots of the whole family looking at the camera first. Then, she breaks the sessions down into individuals, siblings, or smaller groups. Once she captures the more formal shots, Dickerson uses the last 10 minutes of the session to have fun with the subjects. “Focus on the connection and the joy between family members,” she recommends. 

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