I know what you’re thinking… Wait WHAT? Why would you not offer “mini sessions?” I receive a lot of inquiries asking if I have any mini sessions going, or when I will have them. I get it. They are super popular! Especially for specific times of the year and holidays. As my business has grown and continued to grow, I have really dug deep to understand my “why” behind why this career means so much to me. This has led me to personally reflect on my pricing structure, what I offer my clients, and ultimately make the decision to not offer mini sessions. I want to shed some light on how I came to this decision and the reasoning behind it.
There are a few main reasons that I’m not totally in love with mini sessions and won’t be offering them to my clients. The first one is time. I don’t believe mini sessions send the message that I value my time or my clients time. I know my storytelling sessions are valuable. From the first inquiry to the moment I send out all of those hand painted images, I am invested. I am invested in telling every single unique story that my clients bring to me. I strive to make each session a high-end, adventurous, and unique experience. I know the importance of what I am able to offer each family that chooses me document this season in their lives, and I don’t want that to ever change.
I was receiving inquires with phrases like “what would you charge for a small session with a few photos?” I realized that many of the inquiries I was receiving for mini sessions actually craved the full experience of my storytelling sessions, but with a cheaper price tag. When I finally sat down to think about this and how I was feeling I realized that my work IS special, unique, and worthy of a full investment not only in money, but also time. I am able to give so much more to each family that has chosen me. To me, mini sessions don’t offer the same valuable experience that my clients deserve, so I have decided I won’t be offering them. I would rather have families that are all in or not at all.
Another reason I don’t offer mini sessions is because of the way I love to shoot and the way I handle every aspect of my storytelling sessions. I am a storyteller at heart. I always have been, and connection is so important to me. Not only the connection between my families, but the connections that I have with them! I know one of the main reasons of what draws people to my work and makes them fall in love with the images I capture are those connections and my ability to tell the stories I am able to visually capture. I believe that to get those real and raw moments between a mother and her babies I have to be able to connect with them. Form the moment they inquire I am asking questions about who they are, what season they are in, and what their story is like. I have to get to know them on a deep and personal level other than just their “photographer.” I intentionally get to know my families as friends because the second they view our time together as friends hanging out listening to music, mamas chatting it up about the good, the ad, and the ugly they open up to me and the magic happens! I am no longer the professional photographer they hired to snap a couple of photos, but a dear friend who came along on this adventure with them and happens to capture the beautiful moments they are sharing with their loves. Mini sessions simply do not give me enough time to really dive deep and get to know my clients on a real and raw level. The work I produce during a mini session often leaves me feeling like I am lacking and isn’t worthy of what I know I am capable of producing.
The last thing is the logistical break down of mini sessions. I personally hate it. Here is an example…
Fall Mini Sessions
- 30 Minute Session
- One or two specific days or weekends out of a month
- Specific Location
- Possibly a Theme/ Props/ Very Specific Posing
- 20 or more images from your session (and sometimes a gift or even prints)
This general structure often has a price tag that is majorly reduced. Somewhere around $150 or even less.
The main issue I have with this is I know I CAN NOT make a profit with these unless I shoot at least 20-30. I am of the mind I like to work smarter not harder HAHA! But honestly, shooting that many sessions for me in a couple of days has always led to massive burn out. Not to mention major anxiety if I am delivering the kind of art, I am capable of.
At first glance, form a business perspective, this seems like a great idea for photographers. Especially if they need to make a good deal of money very quickly. I’ve been there. I think we all have! But I have found over the years that the majority of my “mini session” clients don’t seem to stick with me. They do not grow with me, and honestly, that makes my heart so sad. From a client perspective, it seems to provide a cheaper solution to the specific need. “OH! I just want one GOOD picture of my baby smiling at the camera.”
Except this is structure does not work for the meaning of my business. I want to capture SO much more than your family or child looking at my camera with smiles that may or may not be the real deal. I want to capture the way your partner caresses your face when he leans in for a kiss, the belly laughs that come out of your four year old when I play my yodeling pickle, or the way you snuggle your fussy baby to your breast because that’s where he’s the most comfy. Mini sessions don’t offer me the time or space to capture that emotion and turn it into art.
I am not saying mini sessions are bad or to never offer them as a photographer or to never book them as a client. I know many photographers who make a great income with mini sessions, and I know I have gotten some of the sweetest images for my mini session clients. I have even had MY OWN mini sessions of my own children, and still to this day love those images… I’m only saying that this dynamic does not personally suit me, the clients I want to serve, and the way I structure my business. My purpose is not to produce “one good picture.”
My purpose is to capture the amazing stories of the families who trust me to tag along on the adventure.