fall mini session tips

by Alicia Gould

fall mini session tips photo

Setting up mini sessions doesn’t have to be stressful!  Really consider what you are offering and who you are offering it to. Answer the following questions and there should be no guessing on either side!

Who: Who is your target audience for your mini sessions?  Are you limiting who can have a mini session? Think about what is realistic, will you let a family with 5 children book a slot?  What about a newborn? A one month old?  Be specific in your promo. For example: “Mini sessions are for families with up to 2-3 children.  Newborns are not included.”

Another thing I like to do is open up the mini sessions to my current clients first, then a week later for new clients.  Announcing mini sessions is a great reason to send out a newsletter!

fall mini session tips photo

What: What are you offering in your mini session packages? Think about how you want to structure your pricing for these; setting up 2 packages completely different from your regular sessions will make these stand apart and also help guarantee your profits.  I recommend creating a smaller package that includes the session, proofs and a few small items that is due at the time of booking.  A more expensive package can be upgraded to after the session, and can include the digital files or larger items.  Be careful about including items that require design and approval time like accordion albums, cards and storyboards.  I promise the design time and revisions will really add up.  If you are going to offer cards, create a gallery of 5 or so cards you are offering and make a policy about choosing images and cards and an additional cost for revisions beyond that.

Think about how to present the proofs.  There are two popular ways to do this, soft proof all of the useable images (basic color corrections, white balance), then let the family choose which 10 they would like to have edited to purchase or you can cull and fully edit the images yourself.

One of the mistakes I made when first offering mini sessions was giving way more proofs than promised.  My thought process was that giving them 20 proofs instead of 10 would guarantee they purchase the upgraded package.  What I was doing though, is undermining what I offer with a full family photography session.  If my clients are getting 20 images at a quarter of the cost, why would they ever book another full session again?

fall mini session tips photo

When: Consider the location you are using, how long it takes you to edit and what the theme of your session is.  For back to school mini sessions, september is perfect.  The weather should be cooler and the trees still provide lots of shady spots.  I normally offer fall mini sessions, keeping in mind almost all of my clients use these images for their Christmas cards.  For me, on the east coast, the trees turn pretty late in October.  I try to time my sessions to coordinate with the changing leaves.  This only leaves me 1-2 weeks to proof the images and turn them around so families will have enough time to purchase their images and create their Holiday cards.

Make sure you have a rain date and that the families are available for both dates! Be clear about your terms; is the deposit refundable? transferable? State so up front.

fall mini session tips photo

Where:  Decide whether you want to schedule a day of mini sessions or set blocks of time.  If you have a studio or an outdoor location really close to you, it may be less stressful to schedule blocks of time.  In the fall I do all day mini sessions.  I start around 9am and book in 30 minutes time slots until about 1pm.  Sometimes in the summer I offer summer minis at a park about 2 miles from my house.  Clients can only book a mini session Monday through Thursday between 6 and 7 in the evening.

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Why: Offering mini sessions are a great, affordable way for your clients to stay connected to you.  The best compliment clients can give you is to come back! Some may not be able to afford a custom photography session every year and some honestly don’t see the need.  It’s nice to give them an option to get a current family portrait or document a milestone in their children’s lives.

fall mini session tips photo

Need some inspiration?  Some of the CMPros are sharing how they promote their mini sessions.

Nicole Begley, Pittsburgh, PA is offering mini sessions for pets in September and November:

fall mini session tips photo
*template from Go 4 Pro Photos

Jenny Miller, Woodlands, TX is offering holiday mini sessions this fall:

fall mini session tips photo

Sarah from Sweet Aqua Photography, GA, is offering back to school mini sessions:

fall mini session tips photo

Candice Wong, Surrey BC Canada, is offering fall baby mini sessions:

fall mini session tips photo

fall mini session tips photoAlicia Gould, New Jersey
CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
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Alicia is a wife, mom, photographer, baby whisperer, project manager, daughter, sister and Jersey girl. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and came to New Jersey when she was adopted at two and has never left! She is supported by her college sweetheart husband and two beautiful children. Alicia is an on-location, natural light photographer who opened the doors to Alicia Gould Photography in early 2008, just four months after the sudden loss of her best friend, her father. For the past six years, she has balanced a successful photography business with a full-time career and family. In 2013, she merged her passion for newborn photography with teaching by creating CMU’s Shooting 207: Newborn Photography workshop. Alicia’s newborn work has been featured around the world in over a dozen languages from the Daily Mail to My Modern Metropolis.

Read all photography tutorials from Alicia Gould.

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6 Responses to “fall mini session tips”

  1. Oct 02 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    these are great tips… my question is how do you advertise these when you already have clients that have booked full sessions… won’t they want to get the same deal? i’ve always wondered that and hesitated on offering these around the same time i have full sessions booked.

    • Oct 02 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Hi Deanna! One of the points that are so important is not overdelivering for the minis. You want to emphasize what the difference is between captuing milestones/christmas card picture and capturing a family session. I also advertise my minis early on so people can decide which is for them. Do you keep your calendar open year round or do you open it as the year goes on. You could open your fall calendar in July and post about your mini sessions in August for example.

  2. Oct 03 2013 at 12:29 pm #

    Any tips about the actual day once it arrives? For example, do you bring a “helper” or put up a sign for the next clients to wait? And if you don’t know the clients well, do you take a picture with their name so you know you are sending the write gallery to the correct client? LOL!

    • Oct 04 2013 at 8:17 am #

      :giggle They all have time slots so I know which gallery to send to which email afterwards :) All my clients have arrived early because I’m very clear on if they miss their time or are late, their gallery is affected and the payment is nonrefundable! I have them text me when they get there. I don’t bring an assistant but I would recommend carving out time to eat lunch or some snacks, it’s exhausting doing them back to back!

  3. Oct 07 2013 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks for the tips, Alicia!!!

  4. Nov 05 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Great ideas here! Thanks so much!

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