Have you been eager to try mini sessions but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been there, done that, and just didn’t have the results you were looking for? After several years of success with mini session in my own studio, I’d like to share a few ways to help you maximize your mini session potential and help you to have successful mini sessions.
Finding your “Why”
Mini sessions can be a great tool for your business. But why are they good for clients? Why should someone book a mini session with you?
Deciding your why is a BIG part of hosting success mini sessions- it’s where the ball starts rolling. If you don’t know why your customers should book this type of session, they won’t either! There are 3 categories that determine the “why”
- Special price– Is this session special because the price point is considerably lower than your price for full sessions?
- Special time frame– is this at a time or day, week, or year you don’t typically book a full session? Are you hosting sessions near a certain holiday or something that would warrant a need to book?
- Special set– Is this setup special and unique form a standard session with you that would cause your potential client to jump to book?
Your mini sessions need to be at least one of these categories to help ensure the urgency of booking.
My photography business has done well with mini sessions primarily because my “why” is a combination of both a special time frame and a special set.
I typically do not offer weekend spots so that’s when I offer mini session events. I also make sure that my set ups for these events are pretty elaborate- far more styled than a standard photo session.
Setting the Stage
If your why is simply a discounted price, then you do not need to worry about this section. However if you are promoting a special scene or stylized mini session, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Your set doesn’t have to be specific to a time of year or holiday. Yes, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are popular themes. But some of my most successful mini sessions have come from just a creative idea that sounded like fun!
If your set will be outdoors, look for areas that get great lighting throughout the whole time frame you will be shooting. You may need to move your set around throughout the day to accommodate changes in lighting for different time slots.
Also, consider picking a location that offers posing options built right in. A fence to lean against, a big rock to sit on, or multiple natural “backdrops” within the same space work well.
After deciding on a theme, begin creating a list of props you will want to have. Props need to serve a purpose. Ideally, they should be something you can have your photography client interact with (sit on, lean against, hold) and tie into your set theme.
Keep scale in mind! If you’re doing a lemonade stand, for instance, be sure the size of it is appropriate for the age group you are marketing to for this session. If you have a tiny stand for little ones and book a family with middle-school-aged kids, this will no longer work.
Practice with Your Set
I find practice very important to set up some of the key pieces of my scene. I practice shooting the set to get a feel for what is missing, if the scale of the objects is appropriate, and to know how to maximize the potential poses within my set.
Use actual models whenever possible. Enlist the help of friends and family to interact with the set. Many times when I practice with some of the props I plan to use, new ideas are sparked after seeing kids have a great time with it all.
Not only do these practice shots ensure my set up will work for me, but it gets a list going for me on how I will use the space and objects to bring personality and fun to the session.
Shoot your Advertisement
While you may not have the entire set ironed out when you do your practice session, it’s the perfect opportunity to get some key shots that will give your potential clients a feel of what their images will look like come session time!
I try to shoot a series of shots that tell a story and draw you into the scene. Sometimes I will use a full shot- where you can see lots of the details of the set. Occasionally the shots I use are more of a tease of what’s to come.
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I typically decide what images to use for my advertisement based on how much information about the set or theme my clients need to have. For instance, when I did my “Come Dream with Me” sessions, if I hadn’t given them a clear idea of what my set would look like, they would have had NO IDEA what I was going for and may not have found the same urgency to book. On the flip side, my “Festive Fall” mini sessions clearly conveyed the idea of what’s to come by the name alone, so I let my advertisement photo leave a little mystery to it.
However you decide to shoot and advertise your mini sessions, the key is making sure it conveys the feeling of what your mini session client can expect the day of! Be sure these images give an accurate idea of what the session will be like- even if you choose to use an image that isn’t the exact set.
Setting the Specifics for Successful Mini Sessions
Identify Your Ideal Client
If you are looking to do family mini sessions, make sure your price, time frame, and props accommodate families. Be specific on the age range and number of children the set and session time accommodates.
If you don’t set the specifics, you’ll find that things don’t go smoothly. You want your clients to love these images! Props that are too small or for the wrong age group will result in less than impressive images.
Your session fee will vary based on what you are offering, and the area you live in. But don’t sell yourself short! If you are creating an elaborate set, your investment is heavy. Make sure you are covering your expenses and still turning a profit.
I prefer to shoot a full day of sessions in short time frames. For me, 30-minute blocks are best, but I tell clients that the session is 20 minutes. The extra amount of time allows for me to adjust props between clients and allows for wiggle room in the schedule.
What products (prints, canvas, holiday cards, etc.) will your clients receive for their session fee? How much will you charge for prints or digitals? Will you do in person sales or host them in an online gallery?
While “Minis” may be short in time frame, the keys to a successful mini sessions are well thought out and involve strategic planning. Start brainstorming ideas today, make a list, and find new ways to bring life to your portrait photography business through special events. Good luck!