Mini Sessions – They’re not always a good idea for everyone…

I’ll be honest, I get requests year-round from existing clients and new clients looking to try us out for the first time, for a Mini Session. Sometimes I just don’t have to time available to walk people through the differences and discuss why it could be a good or bad idea for a mini session for them, so I’m hoping breaking this down a little will help clear that up for someone down the road!

Mini sessions are exactly as they sound, they are mini, i.e. very small. Most of our mini sessions are 10 minutes in length from start to finish. That means you’ve got 10 minutes to get your smiles on, get your kids situated, dog situated, and everyone looking the right direction while trying to make a beautiful picture in that amount of time. That’s not much to work with if you think about it. If you’ve got kids or a dog, think about how long it takes to get your kids shoes and jackets on and get out of the house, or get your dogs leash on to go for a walk… before you know it 5 minutes has flown by! That right there is the reason mini sessions aren’t a good idea for everyone. If you know you can have yourself, spouse, kids, animals all focused and ready to go when your time starts and utilize that whole 10 minutes to capture beautiful memories, then great mini sessions are a good fit for you! If you have someone in your group that can be fussy (kids or adults…) or needs time to warm up to strangers in front of a camera, you could go through your whole 10 minutes with not many photos to work with.

One of our fun holiday mini session themes from the past

We don’t give a specific number of images you’ll receive from a mini session, sometimes a minimum of usually 5+, but that’s because it truly is different for everyone. I’ve given as few as 10 images to a client from a mini session and as many as 80! If you’ve done them and were close to 10, you may want to reconsider a regular session for the next time around. What we do promise is that we’re set and ready for your time slot so that as soon as the clock starts we’re snapping pics and capturing anything and everything we can while you’re in front of the lens. And believe me when I say, we can make magic happen sometimes working with very little!

We usually get requests for mini sessions from potential clients that maybe haven’t used us before for photos, and they maybe want to try us out without jumping into a more expensive session. Which can be a good approach and I understand why people want to do things that way. That was the original reason we started offering mini sessions, to help get in some new clients by offering a reduced price point. And that’s still part of the reason we do them. One thing that has particularly changed over the years for us is that we’ve also expanded on our “themed” mini sessions, offering some unique styles and props so that you can get some one of a kind photos which are often seasonal in nature. We have tried to make our mini sessions more fun by incorporating things like vintage cars, vintage campers, farm animals, snow, just to name a few. So for those additions, our mini sessions can be an economical way to get some photos with those types of add-ins without having to cover the cost completely yourself in a custom session.

Halloween Costume Mini Sessions

Now with all of those things that sound like positive selling points for why someone would WANT to choose a mini session… there are some negatives to point out about them compared to a regular session of your own. For starters, Mini Sessions are scheduled on dates that we choose, times that we choose, and the entire theme or look is chosen and put together without any of your input or ideas. You may have some great ideas, but you won’t be able to use any of them for these. The dates may or may not work for you and your family, so you may miss out because of a scheduling conflict. Time slots are taken on a first-come first-serve basis, so if we’re shooting close to sunset you may get the best possible lighting if you are the first person to sign up. But if you’re the last person to sign up you may get shots taken pretty early which won’t have quite the same look unfortunately. When you’re signing up for a mini session sometimes you can get stuck with what’s left. Versus your own session you can pick the time, the location, the theme/look, really everything.

We love shooting mini sessions, and we offer them several times throughout the year from winter to Christmas. We have fun shooting them, and we love meeting new people and introducing them to our work. BUT, I will admit that when someone wants to see a sample of my work, a mini session photo is not likely going to be the first thing I will show as a sample of what we do. For starters, it’s not what we do most of the time so it’s not a realistic view of what we do and what we’re capable of. But also, since mini sessions can happen no matter the weather or conditions, as well as all of the struggles with clients’ families, kids, pets we don’t always have enough time to capture the best possible photos of a family. Regular sessions are longer, and allow more time to spend on everything. Maybe you show up with a grumpy toddler for the start of your regular session, this happens all the time. The extra time in a regular session gives us time to figure out what will work with him/her, sometimes just getting relaxed and used to the stranger with the big camera in front of them, or it may be figuring out the right bribe to treat them with after you’re done. Either way, we have more time to work through struggles like that. In a regular session we don’t usually have a whole themed decor setup, which means we can move and change if we need to. If we start in one spot and 15 minutes in a big cloud roles in and changes our lighting completely, we aren’t stuck there, we can move and adjust to make sure we keep the best lighting situation for your pictures. So you’re more likely to get excellent results throughout your entire session with the longer time.

Sample from a custom Regular Session

The last phase of mini sessions also varies a little from a regular session. After we shoot the pictures, the processing of your photos is slightly modified in a mini session as well. We do still edit everything, but we do speed up the process compared to a regular session. The overall look and style of your edits will likely be the same as everyone else that took part in the mini session. We usually go through and edit a handful of sample images to find an overall look we want to achieve, and then we use that same principal across all of the photos from that day. We still hand-adjust each one as necessary, but you won’t get any creative edits in this process. All of your pictures will have a similar look and feel to them, versus a regular session you will often get a mix of black and white images and some other styles mixed in there too. Touch-ups are not as in-depth in a mini session either. We always try our hardest to catch and fix things while we shoot, like if you’ve got a piece of grass stuck to your sweater. But in a mini session we don’t have much time to work with, and if we’re already fighting with a grumpy toddler, we may need all of our focus to just be on capturing that one moment he/she might give us a smile. If that means you have a piece of grass stuck to your sweater in all of the pics, we may not edit that out in a mini session, simply because that can require a lot of extra processing time per image and it’s just not a service included with mini sessions. But in a regular session, we would take care of that blemish in all of your photos before you receive them.

We completely understand it, maybe your family or spouse only has a 10 minute attention span, and you know that you won’t get cooperation from them for any longer than that. If that’s the case, definitely sign up for mini sessions so at least you’re not forcing them to be miserable… because that does show in the pictures! Or maybe you have a budget and our mini session price is all that you can fit into that budget, again go for it, we’re happy to have you one way or another! But if your true focus is on an exceptional experience, the highest quality images, and a personalized experience…a regular session is the best choice for you. Regular sessions we can go just about anywhere you want to go to take the pics. We can achieve any look or style you may be envisioning in your mind. We can create unique and sometimes magical scenes to make a truly special session just for you. The relaxed pace of a regular session is also nice for everyone, and I promise, I can make 30 or 60 minutes fly by, even for the least excited spouses!

Some quick comparisons on mini sessions versus regular sessions to clear things up:

Mini Sessions:

Typically 10 Minutes in Length

5+ Images guaranteed (Clients receive 10-40 typically)

Minimal Editing performed after shooting

Prices range from $100-$175

Regular Sessions:

Typically 30-60 Minutes in Length

Unlimited Images (Clients receive 50-200 tyipcally)

Full editing performed after shooting

Prices range from $200-$250

It is of course up to you on whether a Mini Session or a Regular Session is the right choice for you, but we hope you at least put some consideration into the differences. Because in the end, we want you to love your pictures and be happy with the whole experience from start to finish. If you’ve only tried one type of session, it may be worth trying out the other sometime to see which you like better. Both ways have benefits and will give you some great photos! Hopefully this helps clear up some differences between our session options, but please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions if you want to know more about anything we have to offer.


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