If you’ve been photographing for a while, or you’re a part of any online photography group, you may have seen the term “mini session” thrown around a time or two. They tend to show up around holidays, at the beginning of summer, or during senior photo season.
So, what exactly is a mini session? Normally, photography sessions can take at least an hour or longer, can include multiple location and outfit changes, and can produce hundreds of photos to cull, edit, and deliver. Think of a mini session as a condensed version of this; they’re typically 15-30 minutes, with one location, no outfit changes, and a significantly smaller number of photos to choose from.
Why would a photographer do this? They’re spending less time shooting, and they aren’t making as much money, right? Well, the beauty of mini sessions is that you can schedule multiple in one day, and in as much time as it would take to do one normal photoshoot, you’ll have done anywhere from 5-10 and have made way more money! This is also a great idea if your client has children who can be fussy after sitting and posing for an extended period of time, or if your clients want photos quickly and efficiently. In the end, mini sessions can benefit everyone!
With that in mind, here are our top 5 tips to ensure you have a successful mini session, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned pro!
Picking a theme will help you determine the time of year to shoot.
This first tip is excellent for determining when you’ll offer the mini session. By picking a theme, you can select a time of year around that idea. Selecting a theme will also help you in getting the kind of mini sessions you want. For example, if you’ve always wanted to delve into boudoir photography or you want more couples in your portfolio, offering mini sessions of either around Valentine’s Day will be a perfect idea – this guarantees interested clients who will want to have photos to give as a gift around a seasonally appropriate time!
If you aren’t sure where to start, here are the most popular times of the year for mini sessions:
- Before Valentine’s Day
- Senior photo season (April – July)
- Back-to-school season (August – October)
- Before the holiday season (October - November)
Choose a location that is unique and convenient for your clients.
You will want to pick a location that is familiar but unique enough to draw in clients. It should also be easy to find, and not too far away from your client demographic. The goal of mini sessions is the convenience, and that includes getting your client to the shoot! If they feel like it will be a chore in any way, they will be sure to back out. Popular locations include parks, forests, and downtown city areas.
If you’re worried about inclement weather or prefer indoor shoots, consider renting studio space. Many studios will let you rent for an extended period of time and will have all the equipment you’ll need, along with waiting areas in case clients show up early and decent parking. Just make sure to factor this into your pricing if you decide to go this route.
Promote online, take advantages of gift certificates, and use the power of word-of-mouth.
Next, you’ll want to get the word out there and start getting clients! One great way to do this is to ask for testimonials from previous clients; have them post a positive review on your social media! Also, be sure to take the time to make graphics, flyers and e-mail blasts. If you are struggling to get clients, perhaps offer a discount on prints to entice new people who may still be wary (but don’t undercharge – the clients you want will pay you for what you’re worth!).
Another great way to promote your mini sessions is to offer them as gifts that people can buy for their friends or family. Help a potential customer surprise her grandparents with a quick, cute and romantic photoshoot – you may just end up getting the grandparents and the gift-giver as clients!
Hire an assistant.
If it’s your first mini session, it can get overwhelming very quickly. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider hiring an assistant for the day! They can help you carry your equipment, keep an eye out for your clients as they arrive to show them where to go and keep them entertained if they arrive early and are waiting for their session to start. Also, an assistant can take care of payments if you are taking them that day, so make sure to choose someone that you trust!
If you’re shooting indoors, an assistant can also help you with lighting, along with fixing any hair, clothing, or make-up issues so you don’t lose your spot when shooting. Having that extra set of hands makes sessions so much more manageable!
Keep it simple.
The last tip – and arguably the most important – is to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible for both you and your clients. Give yourself enough time to plan how the day will go and what would happen should an issue arise. Make sure your wording is clear in your promos, and always have contracts. Let it be easy for potential clients to get in contact with you, and explain in as much detail as you can how the day will go and when they can expect their photos, along with how many they should expect. The more ground you cover, the better off you and your clients will be, and the more fun you all can have on the day of the shoot!
Have you tried mini sessions before? What are your tips and tricks to ensure your sessions go off without a hitch? Let us know in the comments below!