It’s hard to keep people’s attention these days.
It’s also hard to convince people to spend a relatively large amount of money at one time.
It’s also challenging to convince people that they need more than what their camera phone offers.
All this seems to spell disaster for professional photographers. I mean, let’s face it, signature sessions are usually long. They can require a decent amount of investment for a – the booking fee, then b – any subsequent things you provide the client. Then, of course, it is professional photography at a time when almost everyone has access to a decent camera of their own.
So, what to do about it?
Yes, you read that right – mini-sessions. Every professional photographer’s favorite service 😉
But in all honesty, (these days) it should be.
And here are 5 reasons why and why you should offer mini sessions to your clients and how they can be lifesavers in the otherwise murky waters of life as a professional photographer.
Moreover, offer high-quality print products to pair with the sessions, and you have your reason why people should seek out your services instead of being content with a poor camera phone image sitting on a forgotten hard drive.
But I digress. The five reasons why you need to start offering mini sessions:
1) Mini Sessions Bring New Clients and Exposure
‘Mini-sessions are like mini dating….’ Or so says renowned maternity and newborn photographer Ana Brandt of Ana Brandt Photography.
Yes, THAT Ana Brandt, who has been known to bring in over $40,000 dollars for her studio JUST from her Santa minis alone!
She finished her quote by adding, “[Mini Sessions] are a great way to introduce yourself and your services.”
Indeed, when she equates them to ‘mini dating,’ that is her point, well two really: 1 – like mini-dating, you're able to see many people in a short time frame with mini sessions. 2 – like mini-dating, people will use the mini sessions as a sort of quick, light, non-committal trial for a fuller service.
And, bonus number 3, mini sessions - often like mini dating - have you see a variety of people you might not otherwise experience in other avenues.
Frankly, we couldn’t agree more.
Mini sessions ARE a great way to get introduced to a large volume of a diverse range of clientele. Sure, they may not all stick and become those ‘ideal clients,’ but they are a great way to boost your exposure and fill that ‘little black book.’
After all, they’re like mini dating 😊
2) Mini Sessions Benefit your Existing Clients as Well
Yet, the other great thing about mini-sessions is it goes both ways. Yes, they help to build that base of the funnel, but they can always circle back and help you to satisfy and keep engaged existing clientele who have already enjoyed a fuller service package or even previous mini sessions offers.
Say you’ve knocked that wedding couple’s big day out of the park; it’s a thing beauty but in the past, or you got through the wonderful family’s big reunion shoot, or that Senior had a wonderful everything-included shoot just before summer, you can’t think of how to re-engage with these clients as you feel like ‘they’re done.’
Well mini sessions are a great reason to circle back to these clients with fun, quick, creative, lighter-on-the-wallet ideas to refresh their picture stock and to keep them thinking about you.
Mini sessions can also prove to be enticing, even for existing clients, for the practical reason of their brevity. Take Ana Brandt once again, who shared an all-too-relatable experience she had highlighting the benefits of offering mini sessions:
“I had a client whose husband did not like photography sessions, but she goes, ‘A mini session – perfect. Thirty minutes: I’m in, I’m out; my husband can tolerate it.’ The husband was there during the conversation and nodded his head like, ‘Yep. I can do 30 minutes.’ So she goes, ‘I’ll go and sign up for it right away.’”
As they say in business, a small sale is better than no sale. Well, for photographers, a quick shoot is better than no shoot.
Offer your clients a variety of experiences with you so that they can choose what’s most comfortable for them. Do that with mini-sessions.
3) Mini Sessions are Efficient Business Operations
OK, I think we’ve established the fact that mini-sessions are short, quick, fast photo sessions for your clients and that they can be a major selling point to get some feet in the door.
However, the flip side of that is for you as a pro photographer and conductor of business, they are (or should be) efficient.
Mini sessions can make you and your studio a lot of money – more on that in a minute - and while it can be a lot in raw, quantitative terms, where they really shine is revenue generated per time spent. In other words, their efficiency.
Many photographers will cycle through around 20 clients for one full day of mini-session work. If done properly this is not a bad experience for the clients either. So, there is certainly potential when doing mini-sessions and doing them properly.
Yet, note that to reach this level of acceptable efficiency with your mini-sessions, you have to make sure you’re prepared.
Now again, pair this thought of maybe 20 clients in one day with some photographers who might not even shoot 20 clients in a whole year! Of course, the specifics of the situation differ, and many of those photographers with less than 20 choose to do so because they can and can still make a pretty penny.
However, the point is these sessions can get you that many people in for your service in that short amount of time, and then you have the ability to get back in touch with them for future endeavors – be it for purchases or more shoots, or both.
As mentioned in the first point, mini sessions are a great way to refresh and boost your network and increase your chances of finding those clients that will allow you to develop into a ‘less than 20 a year’ type of high-end photographer, if that is your ultimate goal.
4) Mini Sessions are a Creative, Unique Experience
But a crucial question that might be running through your mind at the moment is why clients would want to take advantage of mini-sessions.
That’s an excellent question. Part of this we’ve covered already is that they are quick and convenient sessions compared to fuller photo sessions that can take hours. Another reason is perhaps you have a very small or non-existent booking fee for your mini-sessions and instead back-load them encouraging clients to spend on products.
Yet, a third reason could be (and should be) that your mini-sessions are fun, creative, and unique experiences for your clientele.
Of course, not to say your other offers shouldn't be this way, but your mini-sessions should be especially so. In fact, it is often good business and branding advice to stay consistent and true to one style so potential clients can feel confident that they know what they’re getting when they see your advertisements and channels.
However, the other side of that coin is then styles, trends, and consumers may pass you by as you remain stagnant. Thus, you have to find that happy medium balancing a consistent style with staying fresh and trying new things. As a result, photographers may use their bigger packages to stay in that consistent realm of what they display on their marking channels. Then they use mini-sessions as their playground.
Consider letting mini sessions be your fun zone as a photographer where you let loose without fear of angering expecting clients and really letting your potent creativity run wild. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, be it with shoot concept, photography style, product/printing type, themes of shoots, promos, etc.
Mini sessions, by definition, are something outside of your usual offer. Lean into that and don’t be afraid to try new things and be very open about that with your clientele.
In fact, a pro tip, consider straight-up asking your clientele what kind of mini-session shoot they’d like to have. I’ve come across many anecdotes of photographers who did this to listen and do a mini session shoot they never would have thought to do themselves as it's ‘not their thing or style’ but then turned out to be a successful one and sometimes even adopted as a main-stay.
As we were often told in school, ask a question you might have as you don’t know how many other children might have a similar one but are too shy to ask. If you get a few people suggesting an idea, consider taking them up on it, you never know how many others might have similar thoughts but are too shy to voice them.
So, your mini-sessions will be attractive to your clients the fact that they are fast, the fact they are relatively non-committal, which might be a little easier on the wallet, but also they should be fun, creative, and unique experiences.
5) Mini Sessions CAN Make Good Money
OK, now for everyone’s favorite topic – or at least every business owner’s favorite topic. Making money.
Remember when we mentioned that mini-sessions can make you money?
Well, it’s true.
I know. I’ll give you a minute to clean up that coffee you just spit out.
Often mini sessions are derided precisely because they earn photographers no money, or certainly not enough to ‘make them worth it.’ Well, perhaps those mini-sessions are not done right.
Remember what we said earlier about Ana Brandt?
How her Santa mini sessions alone, so that’s just one form of her mini sessions, can make her studio over $40,000.
Or how her Christmas Tree Farm minis can put in her books tens of thousands of dollars even 6 months out of the shoot date.
Or how she has clients who “combined paid almost $3,000 - from mini sessions! And, they wanted to spend more money on top of that.”
So, yes, it’s not just conjecture when we say mini sessions CAN earn you great money. Of course, they can be those money pit nightmares as well, but the reality is it’s not about the activity itself but rather how it’s executed.
The potential is DEFINITELY there. And that’s been documented.
In fact, a great way to realize this potential with mini sessions is to pair them with irresistible print products appropriate for the occasion.
After all, it’s hard to imagine achieving such figures based on booking fees or session fees and digital files alone, especially for mini-sessions.
Add to the fact that Ana certainly offers print products herself. Forgive us for making it clear that it is our products she uses and trusts as well :) And this big-money potential with print products carries over even outside of mini sessions, with pros like maternity and newborn photographer Stephany Ficut having many sales reach over $10,000 for one sale!
Or, boudoir photography legend Jenn Bruno Smith can comfortably boast of earning over $100K in one month.
Or, Danish wedding photographer Angelina Devine, who's also achieved over $9,000 in one sale thanks to print, and who credits offering print products for taking her business from starving artist to the high streets of Europe.
You will find there is a common thread among these four situations and the big dollar amounts they boast.
Spoiler alert: the answer is they offer print products.
So, print products can dramatically enhance the potential earnings you can make in your line of work, and mini sessions – as Ana Brandt illustrates, are no exception to that.
It also explains why some photographers take the approach of 'low in, high out' with their mini sessions in that they require a very small or non-existent booking fee to allow clients to have more to spend on the product in the end, as we mentioned earlier.
Product is, and quite literally can be, the big sellers for professional photographers in mini sessions and otherwise.
Fortunately, we have many options to help realize this possibility of making big numbers on mini sessions. We even suggest starting small and not overwhelming your clients yet giving them a chance to add on or upgrade.
Specifically, some products we recommend pairing with mini-sessions:
Box for Prints / Fine Art Prints
Accordion Mini Book
Mini Sessions are no longer those nightmarish, debt-inducing work experiences. Instead, they now should be business main-stays that will keep your client list at a healthy level, give you a reason to keep in touch with existing clients, and even make you some serious money thanks to their efficiency.
Yes, mini-sessions are, in fact, money-makers. They can be profitable, and they even should be.
Ana Brandt says it best on why you should be sure you offer mini sessions that are profitable, “Your clients will respect you – they will respect the businessperson if you do it at a profitable point."
So don’t be afraid to offer mini-sessions. In fact, strongly consider it for these five reasons, and make them profitable. You will then respect not only mini sessions but also yourself; and your clients with respect you, too.
If you're looking to start offering online, check out our mini sessions bundle - it'll contain mockups, social media templates, and a planner, all available for free by signing up below.