How to Run Campfire Mini Sessions

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As a fellow camping lover, when I first heard the idea of “campfire” limited edition photo sessions, I was instantly hooked! What’s not to love about being outside, the smell of the campfire all over your clothes, and s’mores?!??!

Oh, bless you, s’mores.

There was significantly more planning and preparation needed for these sessions than I was prepared for. Far more than I realized when I first decided to go live on booking them.

So, I’m sharing some ideas (and even a packing list and a suggested timeline!!) in this post in the hopes that it helps even one other photographer out there!

I will start by saying the weather was against me every step of the way for these sessions. Our first date was rescheduled due to the unseasonal amount of rainfall we received in October. Then, my campsites for our rescheduled November date were flooded out and my reservation was canceled.

Lovely!

I’m so grateful for friends who let you take over their house (literally) when everything is falling apart! My lovely friend Sarah graciously opened her home and gave us free reign.

I say all of this to say you have to have a backup plan for your backup plan! Things beyond your control will inevitably go wrong and you’ll need a plan B, or even plan C, to stay one step ahead and managing everything well for your clients.


Furry children make every shoot more FUN!

Furry children make every shoot more FUN!

Props such as a guitar can help clients feel more comfortable and at ease.

Props such as a guitar can help clients feel more comfortable and at ease.


Packing List

  • An assistant (or two!) This is crucial. You will not be able to manage so many moving parts without help. Trust me!

  • Gifts for all assistants and the host (if you’re borrowing someone’s backyard like I had to do after my campsites were flooded out!)

  • For easy clean up: Baby wipes, paper towels, trash bags

  • For the fire: Fire starters, firewood, lighter

  • For convenience of the client: Water bottles, bobby pins (for hair), snacks and drinks, hot cocoa, cups

  • For entertainment: Children’s books, deck of cards, all the makings for s’mores, bamboo skewers for marshmallows

  • For decor: Theme pillows and blankets, mason jars filled with marshmallows, cinnamon sticks, camping lantern, metal and wood serving trays, letter board “I’m just here for the s’mores”

  • For the photog: Camera, lens(es), batteries, memory cards

Bonus tip:

Contact a local arborist to see if they’re planning to cut down a tree anytime soon. If so, they might be willing to cut a few short tree logs for you. I contacted one company and the gentleman was super friendly and helpful. He cut 5 logs in varying sizes and even delivered them to my house - for free!


I can’t believe I forgot to take “behind the scenes” photos! I did, however, manage to take a short video of my guest space. Clients were able to enjoy hot cocoa, water, fruit, veggies, cheese, salami, crackers, Oreos, and fruit snacks before or after their session.

We also set out little games, gum, and mints. We wanted our clients to be comfy, fed, and happy!


Timeline

  • 1-2 Months in advance: Book campsites. Begin shopping for themed decor and props.

  • 1 Month in advance: Contact local arborist about tree logs.

  • 4-6 Weeks in advance: Send your clients a Pinterest board (such as this one I sent to mine) to give them ideas about what they can wear during these sessions. Do not assume people know how to throw together Pinterest-worthy outfits.

    • Along the same lines, it’s important to keep clients informed and to stay in constant communication with them. If you aren’t already using a client management software, you should! I highly recommend Dubsado. If you’d like more information, just leave a comment and I’ll help however I can. Dubsado automates so many things for me that I used to do manually - one email at a time. I can’t believe I used to do all of that on my own!! Dubsado also helps you create and send contracts to your clients. This is especially important if you’re using real fire in your sessions.

  • 2 Weeks in advance: Purchase as many of the items on your list as possible. Be sure to leave chocolate bars in a cool area. Refrain from putting the marshmallows where the temperature will change drastically from hot/cold. That’s how they get sticky inside the bag.

  • Night before: Pack everything in 2-3 cars, besides perishable food. Try to get some sleep! Remember to have FUN!! Your clients will sense if you’re relaxed or if you’re feeling stressed.


 
Offer enough props that mom and dad have plenty of options to keep their kiddos happy and entertained!
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Happy Camper!

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