Are you a photographer who hosts mini sessions for your clients?! Today we're going over the ins-and-outs of mini sessions, from choosing the dates and themes, to promoting them effectively, to up-selling additional photos and prints, to ensuring your mini session contract is legit and protects you.
What are minis? Mini sessions are abbreviated portrait experiences that usually last around 20-30 minutes and are a reduced fee in exchange for a reduced number of images.
First, you KNOW you need a contract, right? We offer a mini session contract in the TLP Shop and this template contract is perfect for photographers who put together mini sessions during the fall or holiday seasons. This contract template includes all the specific clauses you need to protect your business with mini sessions including venue limitations (let's say you were to hold sessions at a private tree farm), non-refundable full fees, what happens if a family is late to a session (and interrupts the schedule of your day), transferring a session to another family, no rescheduling, up-selling additional images, and much more. Why is having a contract for your mini session so important? You have to make sure to protect yourself, especially during mini sessions when there are so many what if scenarios.
A few reasons you MUST have a contract:
First, this is NOT the same as a family session contract. Even if you offer both, you really need to have a mini session specific contract.
Ensure your clients know that refunds will not be given, but that they can sell their session to someone else. They are paying a retainer, not a deposit. And they need to know about your late policy. If they're 10 minutes late for a 20 minute session, they only get a 10 minute session! Mini sessions are notoriously easy for families to cancel on. Do not take just a deposit. Make sure they are paying your full session fee and signing your contract upfront so they fully understand what cancelling means.
Make sure you're setting up the sessions legally. Is the session on private property with rules you must follow?
You want to lay out the full scope of the session - time, date, location, what exactly they are getting with the package they chose, how they can buy additional photos, etc.
And don't forget about inclement weather. You need to tell your client exactly what happens if it's snowing and you have to cancel. Or what if you're sick?
Here is what I suggest you do to make your sessions go smoothly
1 | Choose a Date and Theme
Fall, Back to School, and Christmas are popular ones! Let's say you choose Christmas - set up a few vignettes that set the stage. Vintage decor and wrapped presents would be very cute! I definitely suggest hosting on a Saturday and a Sunday as weekends are so much easier for a busy family.
2 | Choose the Packages You'll Offer
For example, I offer a 20 minute mini session for $195. This means I offer a session every 30 minutes, giving myself a few minutes of buffer time. A pretty common offering is receiving about 10 digital images (or even 3-5 images and a print - maybe an 11x14!) If you're offering actual prints, this can incentive people to book! I suggest you try to shoot 40-60 images in that time frame. This way you can upsell after the fact! My EXCLUSIVE trick for upselling: Shoot individuals of each family member, the parents, mom and each child, and dad and each child. Another great upsell for a session like this would be offering Christmas Cards!
3 | Promote and Sell Your Sessions Early
Give yourself at least 3-4 weeks of lead time. I use RegBox to set up all of my mini sessions online. Because they now have schedulers, Dubsado and Honeybook are also great options to use! Make sure they pay in advance and sign your contract! Promote on social media - running ads in your area is a great idea! Ask your past clients for testimonials so you can share their happy photos and comments. You can even ask the first 5 people who book with you to promote on their end and if they bring you a referral you can give them a $25 print credit. And make sure to keep up the hype: "Saturday is sold out! Only 3 slots left!"
THIS BLOG POST IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY SITUATION IS DIFFERENT & IS FACT-SPECIFIC. A proper legal analysis is necessary based on your location and contract. Consult an attorney in your home state for advice regarding your contract.