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    What Is A Mini-Session? (And What ISN’T)

    What is a mini-session? We'll get to that in a second.

    But you know when you’re starting out in photography and you’re trying to find your thing? Do I like to shoot weddings? Am I a senior photographer? Are newborns my jam? 

    Well I’ve found my thing…and it’s MINI-SESSIONS!! 

    I am a HUGE believer in mini-sessions because I believe they’re the biggest “bang for your buck” when it comes to your time…

    …but only when they’re done correctly.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to a photographer and they use the term “mini-session” but clearly aren’t talking about one! I know it’s one of those fun industry terms, but it’s super important that we all get on the same page about what a mini-session actually is. So get ready, because I’m about to lay it all out!




    First, what IS a mini-session?

    Basically put, a mini-session is a small version of a full session. Think of it as a small bite of a cake. It gives people the taste of a full session and keeps them wanting more.

    Here’s a little overview:

    A Mini-Session IS…

    • 10-20 minutes long
    • Stacked in a specific time block
    • At a location that THE PHOTOGRAPHER chooses
    • On a date that THE PHOTOGRAPHER chooses
    • Includes 3-5 images


    A Mini-Session IS NOT…

    • Longer than 20 minutes
    • A stand-alone session
    • At a location that THE CLIENT chooses
    • On a date that THE CLIENT chooses
    • 10+ images included



    I may step on some toes here, but if your “mini-session” is longer than 20 minutes, it isn’t a mini-session! Minis are 10-20 minute sessions (15 minutes seems to be the sweet spot). 

    If you’re shooting 30-minute “minis,” that’s just a shorter full session. Please don’t call it a mini.

    (And yes, it is absolutely possible to get lots of great photos in that short amount of time. Read “My Mini-Sessions Shooting Workflow” for more on that.)



    Minis are NEVER stand-alone sessions! They’re meant to be shot back-to-back (or mayyyybe with 5 minutes in between) during a specific time block. If you’re shooting a single mini-session on a day, you’re doing it wrong! The purpose of minis is to maximize your time, so stacking them is best. 

    I choose to do mine back-to-back to maximize my time. I have found that I don’t need a buffer between my sessions, so that’s just wasted time in my opinion.



    A great thing about minis is that you as the photographer have full control over the date, location, and time block you’ll be shooting in. 

    I like to use Dubsado to schedule all of my minis. I give my clients the date and time range, and from there they can choose their time slot.

    If a client is wanting to do a session at a specific location or on a specific date, they are more than welcome to book a full session. Don’t let them bully you into doing a mini-session outside of what you’ve already chosen to do!

    A good rule of thumb for me is smash cake, maternity, and newborn sessions can’t be minis. If a client asks to bring their grandparents and do an extended family session, I kindly ask them to book two back-to-back spots so they have enough time.

    # OF IMAGES:

    This one is a biggie. For a mini-session to be a true mini, it shouldn’t include more than 5 images. This is the biggest hangup I see with photographers when it comes to minis. By including too many images, you’re devaluing your full session and taking away any chance of up-selling the full gallery afterwards (which maximizes your revenue). 

    I typically deliver a gallery of 20 images and let my clients pick the 5 that came with their session, or purchase additional images. (Up-selling is my favorite!)

    I use Shootproof to deliver my galleries, and it’s great because you can limit the number of downloads to 5, and all of the up-selling is done through the online shopping cart! No In Person Sales (IPS) or anything like that!




    If you’re thinking about running your first set of mini-sessions, YAY you!! Seriously, minis are amazing and I swear by them. You’re going to love them!

    More Resources:


    You may also like…

    “4 Steps to an Excellent Client Experience For Your Minis”

    “Mini-Sessions vs. Full Sessions (and Why Minis WIN!)”

    “How to Get Kids to Cooperate For Mini-Sessions”

    “5 Signs That You're Ready to Launch Your Photography Business”



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