Magnify Small Moments into a Photo Session

It feels like photography clients often seek to photograph only the milestones in a documentary-style, such as weddings or birthday events, as if only the big moments are worthy of hiring a photographer for. They often have a paralyzing way of feeling the need to create a session that makes them look amazing as opposed to documenting the love or subject matter in its natural state (whatever that means for each client). This usually comes from
not knowing they can have a photo session that is unposed, they are too self-conscious to be photographed in a candid manner without being dolled up, or they simply aren’t interested. My heart tells me that we carry many lessons from the smaller moments and that they deserve great recognition. Our learnings become lessons for our children. And in my journey, I’ve learned there truly are clients out there that share this vision.

As talked about in my ebook, Family History Photo Sessions, one of my girlfriends and I were out to dinner, reminiscing “the good old days,” when the idea for a back-to-school shopping session was born. The photos in this blog post are from the session blossomed from that little idea with Stacie of Colorvale and her daughter, Tatum. My friend and I never shopped together growing up, but our stories about shopping with our moms were wildly similar. We realized that our almost-30 selves are now living this one thought which I used to roll my eyes over:

My mom always said, “If I could go back knowing what I know now, I would.”



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Back then, I thought “whatever, mom.” I was eager to get through school and grow up. Life was about tomorrow instead of today.

Back then, back-to-school shopping was about being spoiled with new shoes, new clothes, a new backpack, and school supply galore.

Back then, it was that added bonus of sharing a meal with only mom – something delicious in between stores, which for me meant my Hot Stix cheesy bread and Strawberry Crush soda.

Back then, it was about how unfair it was that I had to get the cheaper, store brand supplies, when I wanted the more expensive Five Star brand notebooks.

But today is different.

The lessons I hold from those memories are far different than the thoughts going through my mind as a child and teenager. Having this gift to photograph these lessons as they are taught will set you apart in your local business to your clients. This is where you can develop your niche – by honing in on a particular area of a photo session much more detailed than the broad term of “I photograph families with an unposed, storytelling approach.”

Learn exactly how I turned a simple shopping trip into a coffee table book worthy session for this mom and daughter.


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Wouldn’t it be amazing to go back in time, knowing what you know now?

Even my worst days as a school girl, if I relived them knowing what I know now, I would have conquered them even better than before. I would have more gratitude for the best days, for friends, for family, and for all I’ve been blessed with. And for these reasons, the idea to do a back-to-school session for a mom and daughter meant so much more than following people around shopping.

This girl will one day find herself in the middle of being an adult.

If she’s anything like me, she will love her life today, but her memories of the days past will tug on her heartstrings. We all have moments where we say, “oh to be a kid again,” and our mind wanders back into the days with little responsibility… we recognize how our problems that were large seem small today. We recognize those that surrounded and supported us in a new light – of unconditional love. And because of this photo session, she has visual proof of this extraordinary time with her mom.

Today, I know these shopping trips were about much more than all the STUFF I got.

Today, I see how these trips to the mall were a form of nurturing, love, kindness, and bonding. While I was grateful for the things I got on those days back then, today I am grateful to have parents that chose to give me the gift of their time and money. These little shopping sprees aren’t a birth-given right, they are a bonus.

Today, as I sit here typing, I see the pile of new shoes for the kids we purchased this past weekend. It’s their new, “fall shoes” and I’m feeling like it’s my turn to be the one doing the giving and lesson teaching.


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Are you a mom? Think about time spent, if not with your mom, with other adults that contributed to your childhood in a great way. Is your vision different now than it was back then over the time shared?

I’m not looking forward to all the “stuff” the kids will get.

I’m looking forward to seeing the excitement on their faces over picking out new items…

and to being spoiled myself in sharing time with them (now understanding and appreciating how my mom felt sharing this time with me)…

and for the days they hit almost 30 and it sinks in just how deep my husband and I love them more than they ever knew… as they find themselves reminiscing about their “good old days.”

If you want to see more of this session and learn EXACTLY how I achieved it from getting the booking, planning, shooting in the mall, challenging light, and more, then check out Family History Photo Sessions (on sale now).

Let’s start a new hashtag #magnifythemoments on Instagram and share with me the real, life moments that have affected you in the deepest way – and made you who you are today. We’ll share some on our Fearless and Framed Instagram account.


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Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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