Photo mini sessions are fun and exciting to shoot. Mini-sessions, or smaller-than-normal photography sessions, are often touted as a great way to get new clients in the door and introduce people to the custom photography experience. Think of mini sessions as a way of building a brand new clientele base. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
While this might be true, most photographers will also admit these sessions can be a stressful ordeal to organise.
What is a mini session?
A mini session is a concise photo session. A typical photo session can include hours of shooting, multiple locations, and 100+ photos to choose from. Minis are all about short times (15-30 min.), a small number of edited images for the clients to choose from, and a lower price.
They’re extremely popular for photographers. Minis are the perfect opportunity to develop new client relationships and can eventually lead to more full sessions. They are also very popular with clients, usually families. The prices are more affordable and can be a fast way to get professional photos for holiday cards, family announcements, or just a few great images to share with friends.
A mini photoshoot is a short photo session. A typical photoshoot usually lasts 1-2 hours, covers multiple locations, and the photographer delivers dozens of photos to choose from.
On the other hand, the Mini photoshoots last only 30 minutes and include a smaller number of edited photos for you to choose from. They’re extremely popular due to their lower price point, making professional photography more accessible to everyone!
How many photos do you get in a mini photoshoot session?
This is a question we get very regularly. Strange that I have not written about this until now. The problem is not quickly answered. While it’s true that we generally create between 20 and 60 finished images per hour, per photographer, you’ll see that we don’t make promises about the number of images, only the quality. Some folks probably find this ambiguity a little annoying, but let me explain why we refrain from making any guarantees about that.
A 1-hour photography session will provide you with a friendly bunch of photos to browse through and choose your favourites to download, while a 30-minute photoshoot might not give the same variety. In a 30-minute photography session, you could get around 20 photos to choose between, whereas from a 1-hour shoot, you should expect 40-50 pictures to look through.
Also, think about warm-up time! The first 10 minutes of a photography session usually involves some warm-up photos to get a sense of the photoshoot flow. The best images will be towards the end of your 30-minute photoshoot because you are warmed up, and the creative juices are flowing.
Thirty minutes might give you that one fantastic shot, but the more time you book for your photoshoot, the more opportunities you have for capturing those EPIC photos. Check out our range of wedding photography for your wedding day.
It depends on the context.
The shoot context is one of the most significant influencing factors in the number of images we can create.
For example, a shoot on a rainy day will typically yield fewer images than on a sunny day. A projection on a sunny day will typically deliver fewer pictures than a node on a slightly overcast day. Likewise, a shoot where your photographer must not be disruptive will return fewer images than one where they can move about freely, without fear of ruining the experience for someone else. Take a wedding, for example. If the photographer is stuck in one spot for the whole ceremony, they will likely produce fewer images than if they are given the freedom to move around.
Your photographer will try to create as many unique and exciting images as possible, given the context’s limitations.
It depends on the control.
Related to the question of context is the level of control afforded to your photographer. The amount of power given to your photographer often has an inverse relationship with the number of images you receive.
The more control you give your photographer, the fewer images you’ll typically get back. Now, remember, working with a photographer is not like buying a package of toilet paper. Hopefully, the purpose is not the same, either. More is not always better. The reality is, to stumble upon the right images, your photographer will tend to produce more unusable pictures in situations where they lack control. And, thus, will usually deliver more imperfect photos.
However, when your photographer is given full control, they will tend to put more time and painstaking effort into producing fewer precisely the right images. Stylistically, we prefer to sit somewhere between that meticulous pursuit of perfection and the wabi-sabi charm of the unexpected.
It depends on the people.
Speaking of control, people are always autonomous agents. You can’t walk into your shoot and go under anesthesia while your photographer puppeteers your body into the perfect images so that you wake up to perfection. That would be super creepy. So, however much control you’ve given your photographer, the human element will always be a confounding factor.
During the shoot, what people are doing will bear heavily on how many images are produced in the end. During a portrait session, your photographer can help coax you into a great shot. But they can’t make an unhappy baby look happy. They can’t make bean bag chairs look flattering for the people sitting in them. They can’t capture joy if there is only sadness.
So, consider two events: First, a cocktail party where everyone is dressed nicely, looking their best and enthusiastically mingling; and, second, a baby shower where everyone is wearing these silly hats the whole time. The cocktail party will most likely produce more images because the people are naturally setting up the photographer’s shots. The baby shower is going to have a lot of fun and funny pictures too. But how many unflattering but charmingly silly images do you want? The answer is almost always “some, but not too many”. Thus, two events of similar length produce a very different quantity of images.
There’s a reasonable ballpark though
The number of images we deliver varies widely, and we can’t make any promises. However, there are some pretty good ballparks that you may find helpful. If you’d like a more realistic guess, you’ll have to tell us a bit about the shoot you’re hoping for.
- Weddings: For a marriage that takes place all in one location, we will produce around 50 finished images per photographer per hour, averaged across the whole day. For a wedding with multiple locations, that number is typically closer to 40 images.
- Engagement Sessions & Couples Portraits: Most typical outdoor Engagement Sessions return between 60 and 100 finished images.
- Family Portraits: This will depend much on the ages of the youngest people involved. A typical family of four will usually receive between 35 and 60 finished images with kids under five years old.
- Business Portraits & Headshots: It would generally be safe to expect to see around 15 finished images per hour.
Indoor portraits of any kind: Indoor images almost always mean bringing our light sources, which will considerably slow the session’s pace. When shooting portraits indoors, we’ll usually produce between 10 and 20 finished images in an hour.
It ultimately does not matter that much.
Your iPhone can snap dozens of images a second. If what you want is just a bunch of photos, then you may as well pull out the phone, spray and pray. In all likelihood, though, you’re after something with greater attention to detail, produced by someone with a creative mindset and a careful thought toward helping you get the images you want—not just a whole bunch of them, whatever they are.
So, while our consumer culture has to lead us to see “more” as “better”, you will be disappointed if you approach your photography needs in that way. Instead, talk candidly with your photographer about your priorities and expectations, and trust them not just to create a lot of images but to create the right number of images.
Why book mini session photography?
- It is affordable, so you can get one done every year with no regrets.
- They’re short, so they’re easy on you and your busy schedule.
- They are just plain fun.
What is the size of your group?
A mini photoshoot works excellent for solo travellers or couples that want some quick snapshots. If your group photoshoot has more than three people, we recommend a more extended photoshoot session so that everyone can get an excellent selection of photos to choose from.
For example, a 1-hour photoshoot might work well for a group of 4 but would be too short for 8 or 10. Extensive group photoshoot sessions tend to be more difficult for a single photographer to work with.
For this reason, we suggest adding more time to allow your mini session photographer the time to direct everyone and make sure the essential group shots and the separate individual/couple shots are captured as well. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Typically, family-of-3 photoshoots are usually fine with mini session photography, but family photoshoots with many generations or small children do best with 1 hour to 90-minute packages.
That seems to be the sweet spot where families receive a beautiful gallery of many photos to choose from, and everyone is in a jolly good mood for the entire duration of the photoshoot session. Small children (and adults!) might get tired, fussy, cranky, and hungry, affecting everyone else, which is ultimately reflected in the photos.
So take a moment to think about your gang and gauge whether the 1-hour photoshoot or 1.5-hour option is best for the family portraits. If your group is six or more, we recommend at least 1.5 hours.
Often, a couple may think they only need a photographer if they’re engaged, getting married, or celebrating an anniversary. While those are the main reasons to hire a professional photographer, mini photoshoots are perfect for capturing all the in-between moments in life, and they are affordable enough to say, “why not?!”
Are you struggling to master the art of the selfie? Never fear! You can get some fantastic photos when travelling alone by booking mini session photography.
A 30-minute photography session is usually perfect for solo portraits unless you have a bunch of photo spots in mind. Usually, we recommend 1-2 walkable locations for these shorter shoots, but multiple marks are possible with an hour shoot! It all depends on what you are looking for in your solo photoshoot.
30-Minute Photo Session Price
We all want a great deal. The 30-minute photo session prices are the most affordable, so if you are on a tight budget, it could be your best option for working a photoshoot into your plans. However, if you have a little bit of wiggle room, we recommend booking a 1-hour photoshoot due to the different photo locations and additional photos you’ll receive. A mini photo session package may cost less, but for only $50-$75 more, you’ll receive double the images, and you won’t feel as rushed!
What’s the occasion?
Are you celebrating something extra special? Go for a more extended photoshoot, and maybe get a little dressed up! Are you booking a photo session just because? Perhaps a mini photoshoot is perfect for you. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Think about tailoring your photoshoot to suit the occasion. Give a significant life event it’s due! We usually recommend a minimum of 1 hour for any surprise marriage proposals due to the planning complexity and the added surprise element. Some of our favourite occasions are:
- Fall mini sessions
- Christmas mini sessions
- Valentine’s Day mini sessions
- Easter mini photoshoot
What’s the best time of the year to offer minis?
Timing is everything. Are you prepared to give up a Saturday or a weekend during your busiest months to shoot sessions that may not be as lucrative as doing a few full sessions on those days? Not to mention the editing time required when you’re already swamped!
A better alternative may be to schedule them when you’re not as busy. During the winter months, choose a holiday like Valentine’s Day or Easter, for which you could put together a themed shoot to draw people. Or, during the summer, pick a day mid-week to offer mini sessions at the beach when families are there on vacation.
When doing mini sessions, some photographers decide to donate all profits to a charity or offer free services. This approach is excellent for making a name for yourself, supporting a cause you care about and creating some great photos to showcase in your portfolio.
Calculating how much to charge
If you’re charging for your minis, there are many things to factor in. Leah Remillét, a creative marketing consultant, has years of experience with this kind of thing and gives this advice related to pricing:
- First: Determine how many sessions you’ll offer.
- Also, are you willing to open more slots if the initial spots fill?
- Calculate the time you’ll spend on each session + culling, editing, design, ordering, and prep for delivery.
- Based on the above, how many mini sessions do you feel you can reasonably book without losing your head?
- Now consider how much income you would like to generate from your mini session event.
- Take your profit goal, divide it by the number of sessions. Ex $5000/14 mini-sessions = $357.14. This gives you a rough ballpark for your price tag.
- Other costs to consider: products, paying an assistant.
Consider how the mini-session cost plays with your regular prices. Mini’s should be a considerable saving from your everyday prices. One of my favourite things about minis is that it gives old clients the incentive to book sooner rather than later and new clients the motivation to try you out!
Setting up online payments
To help save time, many photographers choose to use online payments instead of accepting checks, cash, etc. Many opt to charge for the session upfront or collect a deposit while the client books their appointment. That way, you won’t have to worry about people not showing up. Everyone is paid in full, and you can focus on shooting gorgeous pics!
Reasons Why Your Mini Sessions Fail (and How to Rock Them)!
You aren’t getting the word out about your Mini Sessions.
Many photographers post about their mini sessions on Facebook and don’t use any other method of getting the word out, and they don’t book as many sessions as they want.
While there’s nothing wrong with using Facebook, this should not be your only marketing method to clients.
In addition to Facebook, email your client list (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend starting one now) and ask your network to help get the word out (even better, partner with a local business to do sessions).
You’re not attracting your ideal clients.
Mini Sessions can be a great way to get new clients in the door, but you have to be careful not to attract deal seekers who aren’t the clients you want to have for your business.
Deal seekers hire people based on price alone and want everything for nothing. They’ll complain that your prices are too high (even if they aren’t) and switch based on a small price difference and don’t consider quality at all.
You don’t want them.
So, instead, you need to make sure that you’re appealing to your ideal client and not merely using mini sessions to compete on price with other photographers because that will never benefit your business.
Yes, mini sessions should cost less than your typical session, but they should still be priced to make it worth your time. If you’re unsure how much your time is worth, check out this free pricing guide now. This leads us to our next mistake…
There’s nothing special about your mini sessions except the lower price.
You’ve got to do something to make your mini sessions special. Themed mini sessions that are only available on a particular day are a great way to get people to book. Doing a minimal number of sessions will also encourage people to book now as opposed to waiting. Or maybe you want to offer an exclusive product that is only available for your mini session clients.
Find a reason for people to book the mini-session beyond just “it’s cheaper” and “you get less” because those reasons alone aren’t very motivating to the type of clients you want. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.
You don’t give them the reason to book a full session.
I’m all about over-delivering. It’s a great business to give your client more than you say you will and surprise them with the extras. But with mini-sessions, it hurts your chances of getting them to book a full session later if you over-deliver too much.
For example, if you promise ten images in a mini-session but deliver 25, why would they ever want to book the full session that says you show 25 images? They’ll see that and know that you can do that in a mini-session and not have a reason ever to book a full session.
They may not know that you deliver more than the promised number of images in your full session and decide to stick with mini sessions in the future.
You don’t allow them to upgrade
When someone contacts you to book a mini session, they’ve already got their foot in the door and decided to book with you. Awesome! That’s half the battle! If your goal is to get more clients and turn mini session clients into regular, full-session clients, why not offer them an immediate upgrade on their mini session? This is especially effective if you’re not marking your mini sessions down too much.
Your packages limit your sales.
If you give them all the digital images as part of the mini-session price, they have no motivation to buy anything else from you, and you’ll only make the initial mini session fee you charged.
Instead, give them something small and then offer them additional add-ons after they see their images. You may be surprised at how much they order if they are in love with their pictures and want more than what you offered in your session.
You’re not making in-person sales.
I know it takes a lot of time to schedule in-person sales and go through images with each client. However, you will make WAY more money if you do this than put up an online gallery for them to view and order from.
When they book their mini session, take the time to book their in-person viewing and ordering session simultaneously. Then it’s no extra hassle, and they’ll know up-front that this second appointment is when they will see the images for the first time and that they’re expected to place an order at that time.
You’re not preparing your clients for their sessions.
Mini sessions are often run back-to-back throughout the day, and your schedule can easily get thrown off if someone is running late.
You need to be correctly setting expectations with your booked clients about when to arrive, you need to send out reminders about their sessions, and you need to tell them what happens if they are running late (no session, lost fee, etc.) It’s also important to tell them where to meet you and ideally to have an assistant there who can greet them and reassure them that they’re in the right place so that you can focus on your current clients and the photography part of the day.
You’re not telling these new mini session clients about your other sessions.
There are two parts to this one.
First, you’re not telling them about the other products and services they get when they book a full session with you or explaining the benefits of the entire session instead of the mini session.
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
Second, you’re not marketing to them in the future. The best way to turn these clients into repeat clients is to put them into a client email list and regularly sell them. This is by far the most powerful tool you have out there, as you can almost guarantee people will get an email from you, but you have no idea if they’ll ever see your social media posts or look at your website ever again otherwise.