Mini-sessions are a popular buzzword in the photography world, and for good reason—they’re a lot of fun and offer some great benefits. But many people don’t understand exactly what a mini-session is, or how it differs from a traditional full-length photo shoot.
A mini-session is a short photography session that takes place at the location and time chosen by the photographer which gives clients between 3-5 final photographs.
Read on to find out the difference between mini-sessions and full sessions and which one is best for you and your clients. For a quick reference, save (and share!) the infographic we created in the middle of the post. Let's get started!
The term “mini-session” might sound like simply a shorter, cheaper version of a full session, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here are some of the key differences.
Another major difference is that mini-sessions are stacked, meaning you shoot multiple sessions back-to-back. That’s why mini-sessions are cheaper. They allow you to maximize your time and offer volume pricing.
The biggest misconception about mini-sessions is that they are a more affordable custom shoot. mini-sessions are NOT custom. Clients can’t pick the date or location for a mini-session. If the clients are looking for newborn photos or family photos on a specific date, a mini-session is not for this client.
In order for you to charge low prices and still make a profit, you must be able to book multiple mini-sessions back-to-back. That’s why a mini-session can’t take place at a client’s house or on a date of their choosing.
Additionally, a mini-session isn’t longer than 20 minutes and won’t produce 10+ images. If the client wants a longer session and more images, a full shoot will better suit their needs.
Another thing to consider is the actual breakdown of your profit. The average photographer makes a profit between 19-25%. That hour-long $1,000 portrait session nets the photographer just $190-$250 (about $19-$25 per hour before taxes and healthcare costs). And this doesn’t account for the seasonality of the photography industry, meaning your income is inconsistent.
All of this adds up to the fact that a custom, stand-alone “mini-session” isn’t going to earn a photographer any money. To make a profit, you must stick to the parameters of a true mini-session (short, predetermined date and location, and fewer images).
A custom portrait shoot will often include pre-session consultations between you and your client, take place at the clients chosen date and location, and result in 10 or more images presented to clients in an online gallery where they can choose their final prints.
Depending on the photographer, custom shoots typically last at least 45 minutes and give your client many more photos to choose from. They involve more pre-planning, customization, and choice. They will likely be able to incorporate more people and outfit changes if preferred.
Let's break down which type of session best fits your clients needs and will give them the end results they want, and allow you to make a profit for your work.
Any of these will require the client to book a full session.
They are potential clients for a shoot at your mini-session event.
Simply put, a shorter, cheaper custom shoot isn’t a mini-session. Photographers advertise mini-sessions for a specific location on a set date and book multiple clients back-to-back to maximize time and offer volume pricing.
Let’s run through the main differences between a mini-session and a full photo shoot one more time.
Mini-sessions are about 20 minutes and produce 3-5 images and they are mostly limited edition and usually themed. On the other hand, Full sessions are at least 45 minutes and produce a wider variety of images. They give the client the flexibility to choose the date, location, and props. Any time you’re booking a wedding, newborn shoot, or in-home session, you should be charging for a full session.
Both mini-sessions and full sessions offer benefits, but the right session for you depends on your client’s specific preferences and objectives.
We hope we’ve cleared up any mini-session misconceptions. Offering both options is a great way to grow your photography business. Download our mini-sessions 101 e-book for more info on mini-sessions, including planning, pricing, scouting locations, promotion, and more.
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