Updated: Sep 23
by Stacey Potter
1. Aim to score big.
Since I started my photography business I have been having a great deal of mini sessions each year. I have discovered that this is a really good way to produce a great income in just one to two weekends, anywhere between $4,000 to $10,000. Mini sessions can result in a new clientele base and many of these new clients may not have ever had the experience of professional custom photography, or the price of the photo shoots may have been too intimidating to handle. Or maybe they have had their photos done before but simply wanted to experience another photographer, or they want to update their photos. Whatever the circumstances are for these clients, mini sessions always give a boost to my income and add to my ever growing clientele list. Below you will find helpful tips for having mini sessions that will make your career in photography a successful one.
2. Make a deal that cannot be passed up.
Create a package deal up front that people will love because it seems like a really good deal, but will leave them wanting so much more after they have viewed their photos. I keep the package deal under $200 with a 20 to 30 minute session included along with 10 to 15 images in an online gallery, an 8x10 or 11x14, and some 5x7s. Digital images are never included since I want to be able to sell canvases, albums, and full resolution cd’s. Whatever you decide to offer as a package deal for your photo mini sessions, it is important to cover business overhead and turn a profit, so make sure it is worth your time and covers all of your expenses.
3. Marketing your photography.
So many photographers get stuck on how to market themselves and how they are going to sell their work. I am going to share with you some simple tips on how to book a solid schedule with the right clients:
A. Moms Groups: See what groups exist in your area by using Yagoogroups.com and googlegroups.com to start. As far as obtaining new clients, this is my go-to. Here in Boulder, CO we have a very active online mom’s group consisting of more than 3000 women, and I post there on the regular. Rather than posting about photography I post about local plumbers, where the best Yoga place is, or I write insightful emails about babies and sleep, etc. Starting to get the picture? Because of these posts, the members have become comfortable with me and they feel they can trust me and, as a result of this, when I post twice a year about my mini sessions, I get more inquiries than I can handle as an individual.
This method of “guerrilla marketing” will result in success if you post thoughtfully and respectfully, while rarely, and I do mean RARELY about your own business. Having your URL in your email signature will yield enough lucrative business. But there’s nothing more annoying than someone entering a group from the outside and peddling their business nonstop. Come into the tight knit group and genuinely become part of it. Only then can you comfortably and subtly advertise your business on rare occasions.
C. Facebook: Create a link to your blog post on your business Facebook page and post it about a month before. Keep posting it once a week so people know how to contact you to book and how many slots are still available.
D. Posters: When I first started mini sessions, I created an 8x10 print from a blog collage I did and put it up in high end maternity and baby stores. This was the only time I really used posters for a marketing tool, and they brought me about five inquiries which ended up being well worth my time. I have come to realize that by doing a, b, and c, I gain enough bookings without the hassle of printing and posting around town.
Like full sessions in photography, there is a lot of work in mini sessions too. You still need to have communication with your clients as far as telling them how to prepare, helping them understand what to expect, etc., and this is just as much work as a full session. Coming up with form emails to send will really cut down on time invested into so many clients at one time.
Here are form emails for the following:
A response to the initial inquiry about mini shoots. I resend information from the blog post and include time slots that I have available. I ask the client for their top three choices and inform them that the slot is not reserved for them until the mini session fee is paid in full.
Once their deposit and confirmation is received by me, a second form email is sent out informing them of the location, when and where to meet, expectations, how to prepare, and what to wear. The time and date I have set for their family is attached. I also request that important information pertaining to their family is sent back to me, i.e. names of children as well as ages, phone numbers, address, etc.
An email reminder is sent out to upcoming sessions about two days prior to the mini shoot.
This has to be a place that you shoot at often and are very familiar with, as it is crucial to the success of your mini shoots. You must know the light, locations, backgrounds, etc. Though it would be exciting to shoot at the unique old house downtown you discovered yesterday, or that rustic old bridge you love, this is a quick mini session and you need to take excellent photos that are consistent in a short period of time. So familiarity with the location is vital to a successful shoot. Do not forget that you should only use a small radius of space that is close to parking with great background choices and optimal lighting.
6. Be prepared.
Since it is vital for a mini session to go smoothly, I make sure to schedule in detail what time each family is to arrive, along with the names and ages of all children involved.
I have found that hiring an assistant, or an aspiring photographer looking to learn and gain experience, really helps the process be fluid. The assistant is responsible for bringing the family where I am shooting, makes certain that they are comfortable, entertains the children, etc. Once I am ready for their family they can quickly get in there. Make sure props are ready and on location of the shoot.
Throughout my experience, and trying to do anywhere from two to ten mini sessions in one day, I have found that the optimal schedule for mini sessions is four in the morning and four in the afternoon. For me, this leaves room to squeeze in a last minute mini session without overwhelming me for the day. Sometimes I do only afternoons because I love the beautiful light, and I schedule these afternoon only sessions over two weekends with my happy place being at sixteen sessions.
7. Post flow.
Clients are promised 10 to 15 photos in an online gallery, but in actuality I give them no more and no less than 20. I can shoot 30 amazing images in a 20 to 30 minute window, but I want to give the client a touch more than promised in order to promote the sale of the digital negatives.
Unlike full photography sessions where I really get into the editing and touch up skin, clone out objects, etc., I do not do this in mini sessions, I just do slightly less editing for mini sessions in order to provide my clients with photos that are just as stunning and impressive as the ones in my portfolio.
Form emails, again, are sent to clients with information on how to order and when their gallery is ready.
8. Follow up with the client.
Now that you have built up a new clientele base, don’t let it go to waste. You know them, and they have come to know you, they love your work and the timeless imagery you gave to them. It is imperative to follow up and follow up again. There are several different avenues you can take to do this. A monthly newsletter via email, personal emails during family milestones (6 months old, 1 year old, Christmas, etc.), invite them to like your business’s Facebook page. I send out a Christmas calendar that is 5x7 and has their child’s photo at the top along with a $25 to $50 gift card toward a session fee with me. If you deliver beautiful, timeless images and everything went smoothly as planned, then you can expect 60% to 90% of them to book with you again.
By following these simple steps, you can create mini photo sessions that are a great success and asset to your business because they will generate excellent revenue each year. You will achieve a new clientele base that will keep coming back to you time and again and your business will grow exponentially. Once you have a solid workflow with mini sessions established, you can start doing themed mini sessions, or even branch out and schedule them in other cities, the possibilities are endless! These mini shoots can really fuel your photography business. Good luck and happy booking!
Stacey Potter resides in beautiful Boulder, Colorado and is notorious for her award winning work in family photography. She holds workshops in hopes to further educate other photographers globally on family photography, the art of posing, and how to be successful in doing mini family photography sessions. If you would like to schedule an appointment or obtain more information, please check out Stacey Potter's family photography portfolio and then email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303.818.7757.