Whether youʼre new to photography or a seasoned pro you have either heard of mini sessions or offered them yourself. I have to be honest. I am always so curious about what other people offer for their mini sessions, why they price them the way they do, and how successful they really are.
Because of my own curiosity, I wanted to give you a little insight into my last mini session experience. If youʼre considering offering mini sessions, or changing up the way you already do them, my goal is to help shed some light for you on what worked and didnʼt work for me on my last go around.
I started offering mini sessions a few years ago around the holidays in an effort to give people the opportunity to book a session with me at a reasonable price. Plus, I was getting a ton of emails asking me if I would do them. At ﬁrst I was hesitant because I really love being able to get to know my clients and the thought of a mini session with complete strangers kind of bothered me a bit but I decided to go forth anyway and give it a try.
My ﬁrst experience with mini sessions was not bad at all. My clients were great but I quickly realized that they were a lot of work and not the best in proﬁt. As a result, I decided that I would only be offering them once a year during the holidays. This was the best ﬁt for my business, right? I would constantly see others offering miniʼs for pretty much every occasion. Themed minis, seasonal miniʼs, you name it I saw it. It got me thinking if I was doing something wrong? I thought about this for a while, actually a whole year, and offered miniʼs again during the holidays. This time I offered less and booked up in 5 days. WOW!! Ok, I was excited! My clients were awesome and I yielded higher proﬁts this time around.
I wanted to give you a little bit of background on my mini session experience. The ﬁrst few years I offered miniʼs I did between 10-15 sessions. I had done enough to know that mini sessions are something that I donʼt particularly like doing, but I do like giving people the opportunity to book me at a more affordable price.
This past May, I did my most recent mini session shoot. I usually only offer them during the holidays but this time it was different and I really wanted to help raise some money for the Help Heal Isaac foundation. Profit wasn’t a concern with these minis as my hope was that people would want to help such a great cause!
I advertised them and they sold out in 2 days! I brought along an assistant to the shoot (thank you Carri Wolle) which was so helpful to me. Everyone that signed up for the sessions was awesome and I had 2 returning clients, 1 fellow CMʼr (Carrie Hoener), and then 2 people that had just heard about the sessions.
Most of the sessions went smoothly. One did not go so well and we spent almost the entire 20 minutes just trying to get the littlest one to stop crying when I looked at him. Iʼm not really that scary in person, I promise!
Everything turned out great in the end and I am proud to say that I will be donating $288 dollars to The Help Heal Isaac foundation because of these mini sessions!
I got some great photos for the families and helped a great cause!
So, why in the world did I just tell you all of this and not just cut to the good stuff? Because itʼs important for you to see my ﬁrst mini session experience and my most recent one.
Here are a few things that I learned about mini sessions.
1. Donʼt go into mini sessions expecting to make a ton of money. They are a lot of work during the shoot, the processing, and the presentation. You need to have realistic expectations of what you intend to make and if it goes beyond that, great!
2. Understand that people that book mini sessions like to take advantage of the more affordable option to get photographed by you so donʼt take it personal if they donʼt buy anything else except for what is included in the session or one image. Itʼs not you and they most likely really loved their pictures.
3. Just because itʼs a mini session doesnʼt mean that you canʼt be just like you would on a regular shoot. Remember that this is also an opportunity for you to gain a client for life.
4. If you are including digital ﬁles, prints, cards, etc in the price of your mini session make sure that it is worth it for you. Price out exactly how much it will cost you and go from there.
5. Do not count on print orders from mini sessions. Most of the time people buy more but sometimes they donʼt. Price your sessions as if no one would buy anything else from you and be happy with that price.
For this last mini session I priced it at $150 for 20 minutes and they got one 8×10 print. I did this because I wanted them to go away with something in their hands. Normally I price them at $250 and they get one digital ﬁle sized to a 5×7.
6. Donʼt put the wrong directions down. Yes, I did this and canʼt believe I did!
7. Pick a cause or charity to donate to and form your mini sessions around that. I really loved doing this and I think that my clients did too. Not only was I getting to take photos but I was donating money to a great cause. It really made me feel so great! I challenge you to try it.
In closing, I have fun with my mini sessions and Iʼve gained some great clients this way. I will most likely continue to only offer them during the holidays or if I decide to donate to a cause/charity throughout the year. Mini sessions can be fun and rewarding. Just go into them with realistic expectations of what you will gain and have a clear idea of what you want to offer. But most of all, have fun!
Thanks Melissa for this incredible advice!
Melissa Koehler, California
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Melissa is a portrait photographer based out of San Diego where she lives with her husband and two sons. Her high school darkroom is where her photography journey began and it has continually evolved over the years, especially after becoming a mother and realizing “that time flies so quickly. She currently shoots with a Canon 5d mark ii and a variety of prime and zoom lenses. I strive to capture not only the big picture, but also the little things.” Her passion is clearly her family and photography but she loves comfy pants, coca cola, Bon Jovi, movie theatre popcorn, and cheeseless pizza.