Mini Sessions: Are They Right for You?
So-called “mini sessions” are a growing trend in the world of photography, and for good reason. They’re quick, convenient, and in many cases produce wonderful results; but mini sessions aren’t for everyone. If you’re considering booking a mini session, there are a few things you should consider first.
What is a mini session?
A mini session is a compressed version of a full photo shoot, typically lasting about 30 minutes. Mini sessions take place in pre-determined locations that, as a photographer, I am comfortable and familiar with. Some mini sessions will be in-studio, while others will be held at an outdoor location with reliably good lighting and background.
As well, mini sessions take place at pre-determined times that not only fit well with my own schedule, but that are also the most likely to have good lighting.
Why consider a mini session?
So, why should you consider booking a mini session? Usually, the biggest advantage to minis is the cost. Since a mini session takes less time and produces fewer photos, they are less expensive to book than a full custom session. This is particularly beneficial if you are just looking for a few photos to commemorate a milestone or fulfill a particular need, such as updating a few frames around the house or capturing a great shot for your holiday card. Minis are also great if you’re trying out a photographer for the first time, and would like to get an idea of their style without making a substantial investment.
30 minutes is enough time for great photos of any cooperative subject. That means that a mini session might be for you if you’re looking for maternity photos, candid mother and child portraits, baby photos (minis work great for 6-9 month old babies that can sit up but are not too mobile yet), or photos of your school age children. That being said, mini sessions aren’t for everyone.
Why avoid a mini session?
Because mini sessions are, well, mini, the time limitation can become an issue. More reserved children often need coaxing or a bit of warm up time before they’ll sit still and smile at the camera. Should your child starts crying at the beginning of the session, there likely won’t be enough time to get him smiling before the session is over.
Toddlers are often too restless to sit or cooperate for more than a few seconds at a time, so it can be challenging to capture smiles and eye contact in such a short time frame. However, if you would like to capture some candid, playful family moments with your toddler, a mini can really work for you.
Minis can also be a great choice for capturing a few intimate moments cradling your newborn in your arms, but are not a good choice for posed newborn photos, which require a significant amount of time built into the session for feeding, changing, and lulling baby into that deep sleep that is required to position their little hands and bodies just perfectly so.
With any subject who needs some time built in to convince them to cooperate, mini sessions just aren’t long enough to guarantee good photos. For newborns, active toddlers, and large groups (more than 4 people), you’ll probably be happier with the results of a full-length session instead.
In addition, if you’d like photos at a particular location or a particular time (perhaps because of a busy schedule), mini sessions will not allow you this flexibility, as the location and time are predetermined. In this case, also, you might also consider a full-length, custom session instead.
The Long and Short of It
If you’re thinking about booking a mini session, go right ahead and book it if:
- You’re looking to save a bit of money on your photos or
- You’re trying out a photographer for the first time.
- You’re hoping to get a small amount of great photos.
- The subject of your photos is likely to be cooperative or
- You would like to capture interactions and candid moments rather than anything too posed.
However, you might want to reconsider a mini and instead book a full-length session if:
- You would like posed newborn images.
- You have an active toddler, a shy child, or a large family that you’d like photos of.
- You’d like a particular location or
- You’d like a specific time.
Mini sessions are wonderful for many people, but they’re not for everyone. Remember to pick the session type that’s right for you and your family, and you’re bound to be pleased with the results!