Business + Marketing

The Right Way To Do Mini Photo Sessions

July 26, 2019

By Sandra Coan

© Sandra Coan

Let’s talk about mini sessions.

Mini sessions are one of those things that many photographers have very strong opinions about. Some, like me, love them and do them every year as a special event for their clients; some absolutely hate them. 

If you are in the “I Hate Mini Sessions” camp, listen up.  I’m writing this article for you.

Will Mini Sessions Hurt Regular Business?

I often hear that photographers stay away from mini sessions because they worry that offering a short, less expensive version of their services will keep clients from booking their longer, more expensive packages and, in the end, hurt their business. 

The truth is, mini-session clients and full-session clients have different needs and are looking for different experiences. Offering full sessions and well-timed minis can actually help grow your business by meeting the needs of both types of clients.

Understanding The Mini Session Client

Full session clients love (and need) a long session. They want to spend the time making sure everything is perfect. They don’t want to feel rushed. They are planners. They are coming to you to create heirlooms, not just to get a few photos. 

Mini-session clients, however, want something quick and easy. They are the people who worry that their kids will have a meltdown in a full session. They are the clients who call and say, “I only want one or two photos for the holiday card.” They are frantic, busy parents who are afraid to miss their chance for family photos again this year!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a client sigh at the end of a mini session and say, “I knew my kid could only handle 15 minutes! That was great.” Or, “Thank you so much. This year has been so busy that this is all I had time for!”

Understanding that the clients who want a quick, easy photo session are a different version of your ideal client is really important when planning and marketing your minis. Knowing how your mini-session client is different from your regular client gives you the opportunity to create something special for them and something profitable for you.

Making Your Mini Sessions Special

Sandra Coan, Seattle Film Photographer, Marketing tips for successful mini sessions

Mini sessions must be different from your normal package to meet their needs.

For example, my normal sessions are an hour long. I keep my mini sessions to 15 minutes, which makes it easy for parents who just cannot commit to a longer session, who are afraid their kids can’t hand a full hour, who just want one or two photos from the day.

Also, I only offer my mini sessions once a year, over one weekend in the fall. That is it. Keeping them limited in this way provides an opportunity for those people who have put off booking their photos. It creates urgency, which is a good motivator for busy parents and last-minute planners.

Mini-Session Etiquette: What Not To Do

Where a lot of photographers go wrong with mini sessions is that they offer them throughout the year. Clients can choose to book a full session or a mini session at any time, which eliminates scarcity and turns them from something special into your lowest priced package. That, my friend, will hurt your business.

Instead, turn your minis into an event. Create buzz and excitement around them. Mine have become a tradition that I look forward to every year. My clients love them, and so do I.

Sandra Coan is an industry educator and award-winning newborn and family photographer specializing in studio portraiture, artificial lighting and fine-art film photography. She last wrote about the easy approach to metering for portraits on film.


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