7 Top Tips For Running Photography Mini-Sessions

7 Top Tips For Running Photography Mini-Sessions

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For many photographers, especially those who photograph families and children, there are certain times of the year which can be great opportunities for photography mini-sessions.

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If you have done mini-sessions before, you’re probably already a seasoned pro. But if this is your first time doing one, these tips may help. It’s better to start planning months in advance to get the word out before people’s diaries fill up.

Mini-sessions are a quicker photographic session that is captured at lower than your full photographic session rate.

The most obvious opportunity is the Christmas mini when parents book photo shoots for their children or their family for holiday cards or to give to grandparents and family as gift prints. Then there’s Valentine’s day, Mothering Sunday, Easter/Spring, Father’s Day, Summer shoots, Autumn shoots.

Unless mini-sessions are all you do, I suggest deciding on which one to do from the above opportunities instead of offering a mini-session for each month of the year!

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7 mini-session tips

I thought it would be fun to do this in a DO and DON’T format. DON’T forget these are only my suggestions. Ultimately, DO decide for yourself what is best for your business.

1. Choose how many to run

DON’T do more than two in one year.

DO select carefully the ones you want to do and whether you vary them each year or stick to the one or two. Running them more often than this only encourages a client culture of waiting for mini-sessions, much like waiting for a sale. You may lose full-paying clients. Whilst you end up with many new contacts and families, you may be missing the opportunity to market to clients who want to have a longer session with you.

2: Send invites

DON’T invite everybody.

DO invite only the clients who don’t usually go for full-price packages in the first instance or those who have a budget. Extend the invitation to their friends if spaces remain. If you don’t fill up, then you may well decide to make the invitation public. You may find that clients have like-minded friends. Knowing their friends do a mini instead of a full shoot, they may tend to follow suit, even if they can afford the full package. You don’t want your normal full-paying clients to suddenly switch to mini-sessions for their annual photoshoots.

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3. Choosing when to run the sessions

DON’T do several days or weeks.

DO specify one day (2 if you have more than you can take in one day), one location and short time slots. Make sure your time-slots do not have long breaks in-between. Be clear as to the duration of the mini-session, that is, when their time starts and ends. Make this much shorter than your usual photo shoot. It helps to have a short time in-between slots for a bit of leeway in case a shoot runs over. However, not too long in between so your client knows you have to wrap it up as there is another family waiting after their slot is over.

4. Don’t shoot too many images

DON’T overshoot.

DO have a maximum number of images to shoot in mind so you don’t take far too many and end up with more editing hours equivalent to a full shoot. When shooting very young children, we normally have to shoot plenty to make sure we get good ones but don’t labor a pose. Take a few and move on. It helps to have a mental (or physical) list of shots and combinations as well as spots and locations for poses or positioning of subjects to help keep to the session’s time duration.

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5. Outfits

DON’T leave all the outfit planning to your clients.

DO give your clients an idea of the set or backdrop color beforehand so they can plan outfits to suit or you can suggest clothing. I usually ask them to send me photos of their outfits beforehand so we decide together. Having great outfits really make a difference to the final look of your images and may even help strengthen your branding if and when you decide to blog the session.

6. Props

DON’T allow an unlimited number of props.

DO ask them to bring only one or two props or items from home. For example, special teddies or toys for the kids to use as a prop or to comfort them if necessary. Usually, something that has special meaning works well. It’s a bonus if it goes with the outfits too. Again, you can discuss this with your client beforehand during the planning stage.

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7. Gifts

DON’T send the children off without a little gift after their session.

DO show your appreciation. Applaud their effort and reward their time with one small gift like a small bottle of bubbles, sticker sheets or a little car. They will feel appreciated and that their hard work is recognized and valued. Who knows, this might set you up nicely for the next shoot with them where they warm up to you quicker than the last and be more obliging too. It’ll be a win-win.

I hope these tips are helpful. Do share your thoughts on photography mini-sessions and comments below, or if you have more tips to add.

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Lily Sawyer is a wedding and portrait photographer based in London. Her absolute favourite past time is going on "mummy" dates with her kids and husband. Other than that, as a homebody, she is content curled up on the sofa, hot chocolate in hand, watching films with her family whenever she has a free weekend. Check out her work on www.lilysawyer.com Follow her on her fave social media platform Instagram.