Mini Sessions – Affordable for Who?

Christmas mini session

Buzz Word – “Mini Sessions”

Mini Sessions – one of photography’s buzz phrases right now.  So, what exactly are mini sessions?  Well, many people have them confused with “small” or “short” sessions.  There are some photographers who label their smallest package “mini” (I once did that), but I am not referring to those.  I am talking about the limited, special occasion sessions.

Family session - not a mini session

The only reason mini sessions work for photographers is because we can get many people through in short amounts of time.  When done correctly, they are ONLY profitable when the photographer can book back-to-back clients to cover the overhead costs.  Let’s use Christmas as an example.  Some of the hidden costs might include:
Tree Farm, $50 -$100/ hour
Santa, $60-$300/hour
Props/Backdrop, $200+
Assistant $100+
Editing/Gallery work, 2-5 hours per client 
Varying rates for taxes/insurance (that’s another post because not every photographer is operating legally)

Let’s Break it Down

Let’s say the photographer does 4 hours at the tree farm with a moderately priced Santa for mini sessions. We are looking at a minimum of $1100. If clients are scheduled every 15 minutes, that means the schedule would allow for 16 clients in those 4 hours. Just to break even, the photographer needs to charge around $65 per client for these mini sessions. But, that is not covering the time spent preparing, shopping, marketing, setting up, tearing down, editing, or paying for the photographer’s salary or taxes.

Mini Sessions are Not Always Profitable

As you can see, $50 per client is NOT profitable.  Yeah, you might hear some people say “Oh, they just do it for fun so they can charge less.”  Well, guess what?  We all do it for fun!  We love photography!  But, honestly, would you go to work for free even if you love your job?  Probably not.

This is why mini sessions are offered on specific days.  If you miss out and request a mini session with “just a few” pictures, it is not worth our time and money to do that for you.  At that point you will need to pay for a regular offered package.  I understand that you will only use a few, but the photographer is snapping upwards of 50 pictures to get just the right images for you.  That is a lot of editing and culling after the session.

I hope no one takes this message personally.  I get the request for a mini sessions A LOT, so I thought it was time to offer a more clear explanation.  If you mean to request a small package, then perhaps asking the photographer for their package options would be a better route than requesting mini sessions.

If you need ideas for what to wear for you next family session, read HERE. You can also find some ideas on my Pinterest board.

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