The Complete Guide To Booking, Shooting, & Selling Photography Mini Sessions
Reach new photography markets, create photo collaborations, and quickly fill empty calendar spots with Mini Sessions! Here’s your complete guide to doing it RIGHT. (Photos by JUSTINE MILTON.)
What Are Mini Sessions?
A Mini Session is exactly what it sounds like: a smaller version of the portrait photo packages you already offer as a photographer.
For example, if your typical portrait client experience or photo session lasts an hour, this photo session should only last 15 – 20 minutes. “Fifteen minutes?!?” you say. “But that’s not long at all!” You’re right – it’s not! That’s why it’s mini!
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A Mini Session is designed to give clients a taste of what you do.
These Sessions Are NOT:
- Your regular photo session offered at a discount. This would undermine your brand, and negatively impact your bottom line!
- Insanely good deals anyone can score at any time. In fact, a Mini Session works best as a limited-time offer!
Don’t damage your brand (or your bottom line) by confusing these photo sessions with cheap photography. What makes this photo session more affordable is its size. Learn more about mini session pricing in our complete guide.
Just like one scoop of ice cream costs less than three, clients will pay less for mini sessions than full sessions.
3 Marvelous Session Scenarios
Offer your Mini Session to your clients with intent and purpose for maximum impact.
#1: Bring in New Clients
Mini Sessions can help bring in new clients who aren’t quite ready to commit to a full session yet, but still want to experience your photography work. And even if a portion of these clients don’t ultimately book full sessions, they can still become brand ambassadors after a WOW client experience. You’ll be surprised by the number of full session client referrals that come from happy Mini Session clients!
#2: Create Collaborations
Mini Sessions make for excellent promotional offers, such as seasonal shoots and holiday cards. (Pumpkin patch, anyone?)
Atlanta photographer Alice Park grew her family portrait business by offering Santa Mini Sessions at a local upscale children’s clothing boutique. Her collaboration with the boutique connected her to numerous portrait clients in a neutral, fun environment.
Get clients. Get paid. Get happy.
#3: Quickly Fill Empty Calendar Spots
If you’re looking at a lull in your schedule, consider filling it with Mini Sessions! Because Mini Sessions don’t require a large financial commitment from your clients, these photo sessions are easier to sell at the last minute. And because these photo sessions are a limited time offer, clients are more inclined to make the purchase while they last!
How To Market Your Mini Session
The most successful Mini Session begins with a bit of photography prep. You’ll need to:
Launch a Landing Page
You need one place where clients can get all the Mini Session details. This can be as simple as a blog post describing your Mini Session and informing clients how to book their own. You could also include these details in your Instagram bio, in your Linktree (or whatever #LinkinBio tool you use), and across your social assets.
Market Your Minis
You could position your Mini Sessions as a “special repeat-client offer.” Then you’d just need to email existing clients inviting them to book minis, or simply add a banner message at the top of your ShootProof galleries informing existing clients of the offer.
You can also use your social media accounts to market your minis and bring in new clients.
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Create Some Social Content
Creating Mini Session-related content on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok is a great way to generate some interest. The best part is: you don’t need to be (or hire) a videographer to make them! Just take a look at what these photographers did:
Customize Your Social Media Graphics
You’ll want to customize your social graphics depending on which platform(s) you’ll be posting on. The size of a Facebook feed post is different than an Instagram Stories post, for example. You can find the latest social media dimensions on Hubspot.
PRO TIP: Get Social Media Savvy
Your Mini Session info should be clear and shareable. Your marketing graphics, images and photos should incorporate three elements:
- A simple message. Don’t overload your Instagram graphics with text. Instead, stick with simple copy: Fall Mini Sessions – October 1st! Provide details and LINK IN BIO guidance in your caption for your client to see.
- Your brand. Your website (or better yet, the simple link to your Mini Session landing page) should be present on each graphic!
- An iconic image. Choose one of your beautiful portraits and holiday cards to entice clients to book. Make sure your clients see your image and say, I want that for MY family!
Curate An Email List
Announce your Mini Sessions directly to your favorite clients (or to a new target demographic) via email! It’s important that you aren’t spamming anyone, so make sure you limit your emails and holiday cards to people who have given you permission to email them – such as past clients, or folks who’ve signed up for your newsletter.
Contracts & invoices for Pros
If you’re collaborating with another business, that business can share your Mini Sessions details with their client list. Provide them with a brand-friendly graphic to help promote your sessions!
PRO TIP: Make the Most of Email Lists
Ready to grow your list? Make sure you create a signup form on your website so curious new clients can get notified when you launch your next Mini Sessions date! We recommend MailChimp for gathering addresses and sending eye-catching emails. It’s FREE for most photo businesses!
Streamline Your Mini Sessions Schedule
The most profitable Mini Sessions are typically scheduled back-to-back, with multiple Mini Sessions photographed in one day.
Short Mini Sessions are ideal, allowing your clients a fast-paced dose of your work without a hefty time-commitment.
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Every Minute Counts
While the difference between 15-minute Mini Sessions and 30-minute Mini Sessions may not seem massive, consider this:
You can book NINE 15-minute Mini Sessions between 9:00am and noon; but you can only book FIVE 30-minute Mini Sessions in that same time frame!
15-minute Mini Sessions, scheduled in 20-minute increments = book 3 every hour!
EXAMPLE: 9:00am, 9:20am, 9:40am
30-minute Mini Sessions, scheduled in 40-minute increments = book 1.5 every hour. That’s half as many!
EXAMPLE: 9:00am, 9:40am, 10:20am, 10:40am, 11:20am
If your goal is to reach as many clients as possible and maximize your profits, a shorter session is the way to go!
PRO TIP: Schedule Smart
“My very first mini-sessions were almost a nightmare because some sessions went over their allotted time, and some people showed up a few minutes late for their session, which skewed the timeline. If you plan ahead and add a five- to ten-minute buffer between each session, you’ll have some wiggle room when someone shows up late or wants ‘just five more poses!'” – Tim Hussey, Pixifi
Prepare Your Plan B: Terms & Conditions
Make your Terms & Conditions crystal clear at every level of the process to book one. The success of your booked Mini Sessions rests heavily on your ability to complete them on the day your clients book them, with no refunds or rescheduling.
Empower your clients with gorgeous galleries.
While only you can know what works best for your business, these tips may help you craft Terms & Conditions that will keep both you and your clients happy!
PRO TIP: Even A Mini Session Needs A Contract
Always use attorney-drafted contracts – even for tiny shoots like Mini Sessions. Our Contracts Marketplace has lawyer-created contracts for every genre!
Illness & Inclement Weather
Your Mini Sessions book contract will cover you should you become too ill to work.
In the case of inclement weather, have a plan in place to shoot your photos in a covered area. Consider:
- Parking garages. Open-sided parking garages can provide plentiful light for your photos! Just make sure there is a clean background in the photo – and that the garage owner is okay with you shooting photos there!
- Park pavilions. A large park pavilion offers cover from the rain and lovely light for your images! Just beware the exposure differences between the covered area and the outdoors.
- Atriums at botanical gardens. You’ll likely need a permit and/or individual family tickets to shoot your images in these spaces, but you’ll find beautiful light in orchid houses and other greenhouses at your local botanical gardens!
Client Cancellations & Rescheduling Requests
As a photographer, it may be difficult to set a firm boundary, but it’s important that limited time offers such as Mini Sessions be sold as non-refundable, final purchases. If a client chooses to cancel, they will not receive a refund.
Rescheduling a booked session can be a touchier subject for any photographer because we all understand that kids can get sick and family emergencies do occur. However, a strict book session rescheduling policy is critical if you are to maintain a sane schedule and streamlined workflow.
Consider this policy:
Because Mini Sessions are available on a limited basis, all Mini Session bookings are final and non-refundable. They cannot be rescheduled to another date or time. If you are unable to attend your Mini Session, however, you are welcome to gift or re-sell it to a friend or family member.
You, the photographer and owner of your business, can always choose to make an exception for a special client. But a firm, clear policy gives you the backbone necessary to stand firm as a photographer against a client who is merely taking advantage of you.
Mobile Apps: Made for Mini Sessions!
Put your images portfolio in every client’s pocket with their very own ShootProof Mobile App!
Mobile Apps are the perfect companion to every Mini Session.
- Add up to 100 photographs and images to a single Mobile App – easily every image from a client’s Mini Session!
- Include your sign-up link for your next Mini Sessions!
- Mobile Apps are customized with YOUR branding, website, and contact details.
- Clients save the Mobile App to their smartphone’s home screen for easy viewing any time, anywhere!
- Unlimited Mobile Apps are FREE with your paid ShootProof account!
Use Automated Emails To Sell For You!
When your session is over, your photography sales are just beginning! Email campaigns can effortlessly encourage post-shoot print purchases.
In ShootProof, create a short email campaign (like this holiday sale email campaign) called Mini Session Emails and attach the series to your Mini Session galleries!
I’m so happy your family joined me for a Mini Session!
Click the button above to see your beautiful photos, and enter your password: PASSWORD
Download your 5 favorite Mini Session images for FREE with your one-time-use promo code: SMITH5
Additional downloads and prints can be purchased through your gallery as well! Get FREE SHIPPING on all print orders placed this week!
I hope you’re enjoying your Mini Session photos!
Have you thought about hanging one on your wall? Use promo code HAPPY and save 20% off all 8x10s!
Hurry – your gallery expires in 1 week!
PRO TIP: SELLING
Create unlimited custom discount codes for your ShootProof galleries and images, and use them to prompt print and product sales!
Mini Session YOUR WAY
When it’s all said and done, these photo sessions are meant to boost your brand, cultivate your creativity, and WOW your wallet. Make your sessions and photos work for YOU!