For many photographers, mini sessions serve as a wonderful way to get to a larger number of clients in a shorter period of time, among many other things. I hold holiday mini sessions for my clients annually and would love to share some tips and tricks on how to do mini sessions, and why I love offering this service.

Here are my 6 best tips on mini sessions, plus some unique photo ideas to give you a creative head start:

1. Get organized.

You have it set in your mind: “I want to do mini sessions.” Now you have to figure out, when, where, how long, what price point, how many clients you will be taking on, a weather contingency plan, contracts and so on. Seems like a lot? It is. Make sure you have every single base covered and question answered before you start advertising about mini sessions.

2. Advertise.

It’s not enough to know how you’ll run your mini sessions, you need to get the word out! Find the platform that works best for you. Many of my mini sessions participants are repeat clients so they are contacted personally first. From there, I create advertisements on Facebook and Instagram since that’s where my ideal clients spend their time.

watercolor pineapple ad by Allison Gipson

3. Remain organized.

As clients start to book and put deposits down, stay organized. Implement a system so that you can keep track of everyone, their time slots and dates. The better organized you are with all of the paperwork, the more smoothly everything will run while planning and on the day of mini sessions.  I use 17hats to help manage all of my client information, contracts, invoices and other key information. After a lot of research, this system works the best for me. Typically, this is how I would book a mini session and keep it organized:

  • Initial email from client (gather all information – family size, members, names)
  • Send invoice
  • Confirm date/time
  • Send contract
  • Add client to Facebook group
  • Send reminder of session time slot

4. Keep them informed.

This year, I created a private Facebook group for all of those participating in holiday mini sessions. In the past, I have used newsletters/emails and saw that no one was reading them or even opening them. In the group, I was able to go “live” and speak directly to all of my clients at once.

I view mini sessions as a collective movement – we all needed to work together to make them successful. In this instance, I don’t think there is ever too much information for clients, and they all agreed. Things that were stressed in our group: where to park, where to meet, what to wear, being on time, and all of the other “what if” questions.

I even went “live” on the days of the mini sessions to show clients exactly where I was standing and what to look for. This served as a wonderful platform to get information out all at once and provided even one more source of communication from me to clients.

black and white photo of boy laughing by Allison Gipson

5. Be prepared.

On the day of your mini sessions you will naturally have all of your camera gear, props and paperwork all ready but don’t forget snacks and water and a “just in case” kit. Also, a huge help this year was my assistant. She helped with many aspects of the day and was a huge help with everything from greeting clients and checking them in to helping with the families and children.

Also, be prepared for anything. Your clients might be late, unprepared or grumpy. It happens. Be ready to help and work with each of them. While you are looking at the day as a collective whole, remember each client still has individual needs.

6. Get to work.

Edit, edit, and edit. With mini sessions, I work on a slightly modified delivery schedule than full sessions. My goal is to get photos out as fast as humanly possible.  I know that clients are looking to use them mostly for holiday cards. I always keep that in mind so they have time to order and deliver their cards. Make sure you include a timeline in your contract and they understand the terms of how their photos will be delivered.

As a lifestyle and documentary photographer, I used to think that mini sessions were not something that could be incorporated annually into my business. While there are many pros and cons to holding mini sessions, you can’t look past the number of families helped in such a short period of time and the amazing memories and moments captured.

picture of 3 little girls looking up and smiling by Allison Gipson

Still on the fence? Why not use a theme for your mini sessions? Think outside of the box. Do you have something unique in your hometown that you could incorporate? Something your clients love to do? Use those unique ideas to create a one-of-a-kind experience.

Here are some different outside the box ideas for mini sessions…

  • Snow Day Mini Sessions
  • You are My Sweetheart – Valentine’s Day Mini Sessions
  • March Mini Madness
  • Easter Mini Sessions (egg hunts, dying easter eggs, chocolate anything, flowers, spring, the list could go on and on)
  • Summer Fun
  • Beach Baby
  • Red, White and Blue Minis
  • Gone Fishing Minis
  • Catching Fireflies Mini Sessions
  • Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere
  • Mommy and Me Minis
  • Daddy and Me Minis
  • Coffee Date
  • Back to School Mini Sessions
  • Pumpkin Patch Minis
  • Fall Leaves Mini Sessions
  • Holiday/Christmas Minis