Mini Session or Full Session?

Photographers typically offer a variety of different sessions. Some have mini sessions and other have only full session options. Some do both throughout the year. How do you know which is best for your photoshoot?

First, a mini session is not just a ‘shorter version of a full session,’ as the name might imply. A mini session is typically multiple families who are photographed individually at specific times on a very specific date at a specific location decided by the photographer. Each family spends a pre-determined amount of time, usually 10-15 minutes, with the photographer. The products included with a mini session traditionally are a predetermined number of digital photos set by your photographer. The digital download agreement ranges from 1 to 10 images with the option to purchase additional ones or the whole gallery later. Again, your photographer predetermines all of these points as part of the mini session package.

On the other hand, a full session is usually much longer, on average an hour, and generally comprises a variety of nearby locations or backgrounds. The full session location and time is mutually agreed upon between the photographer and the single family prior to the session. The products included with a full session depend on your photographer. Some photographers are strictly digital; their full sessions include either the entire gallery or a larger pre-determined number of image downloads with the option to purchase more. Other photographers are product based (like me!) who prefer photo products of your images from a professional print lab. For the purpose of this post, I will not go into further detail regarding photo products (to read more about my business model and passion for photo products, check out the My Services section of my website!).

So which do you choose?

Ultimately, it depends on your motivation for a family session. For example, around the holidays, people commonly want an updated photo for holiday cards. You only need a very small variety of images for your holiday card. In this case, a mini session is perfect. On the other hand, you want to make a family album to give to grandparents for Christmas. In this case, a full session is ideal to give you more image and location variety for your album.

Another example: you want updated family photos. However, your kids have soccer and baseball tournaments what feels like every weekend. You should schedule a full session to allow flexibility for a time that works in your busy schedule. Remember, mini sessions are at a pre-determined date that has little to no flexibility. If that happens to be a day that you’re available, then a mini session can be perfect!

Or maybe your partner hates taking photos. You may want to choose a mini session as an easy compromise since they are typically less than 20 minutes. On the other hand, full sessions are much more intimate. Your photographer has time to build rapport and trust during your session; your partner is more likely to relax, open up, and have some fun with a genuine smile!

Maybe budget is a concern. Mini sessions typically are a financially better options. Mini sessions are sometimes themed as well (Christmas tree photos, Valentine’s photos, back-to-school photos, etc.). The lower cost of mini session may give you more freedom to book frequently throughout the year with a variety of different themes! On the other hand, if there are particular items you want as part of your session (ex. your ultrasound baby photo!), you should schedule a full session to allow that flexibility.

Additionally, maybe your kids are often uncooperative or you want to include your dog. A full session would be a better choice in these scenarios. During a full session, your photographer can take frequent breaks so your kids have time to relieve energy between poses. Full session photographers will also often follow your kids around and capture some really genuine moments of your kids as themselves. Mini session time constraints traditionally don’t allow that flexibility. Likewise, additional family members including pets are also too difficult to coordinate posing within a time restricted mini session.

Regardless of your motivation, there is no time like the present to update those family photos! Still not sure which option is best for you or which options are available for you? Reach out to your photographer! Ready for a full session or want more information? You can reach out to me via my Contact page. If a mini session seems best for you, sign up for the VIP list to stay up-to-date on future openings!

March 9, 2024

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Baileyana Rose