mini sessions vs full sessions whats the difference
27 September 2012

Mini Sessions vs Full Sessions – What’s the difference?

Since we are nearing Christmas time, and my Christmas minis are about to go live, I thought I would talk about the difference between mini sessions and full sessions. Many people, clients and photographers, have asked me and others around me to explain the difference between a mini session and a full session. It’s important to mention that neither option is ‘better’ than the other – it depends entirely on what your needs are and what you want from a session.

A mini session, as the name suggests, is a smaller version of our usual session that we offer when a client wants only a couple of images. This might be to capture a milestone, a seasonal gift sale or to offer to clients who only have a limited budget. I don’t usually offer them year-round, or advertise them, but it would be something I would consider arranging with a client on a small budget and offering at peak times, such as when lots of people want to buy just one or two photos to use for their Christmas cards, or to gift to family for Christmas.

A full session will obviously differ on it’s length and style when you consider the subject (newborn, couple, family), but is something we all offer to give clients the full experience. Every photographer will differ slightly in the way they do business with a full session – although there are two main styles of shooting and delivery that stand out. “Everything on a disk”, also known as “Shoot and Burn” or “All Inclusive” photographers set a price and deliver every photo they edit. “IPS” photographers, also known as “Image Sales”, “Viewing Gallery Sales” and some various other names set a small session fee, which the client pays upon booking and does not include any images – just the photographer’s time and skills, deliver photos in a heavily watermarked gallery or in an in-person viewing with proofs, and let the clients decide which photos they would like to purchase when they see them.

A full session provides a large variety of images and greater coverage of the subject – such as when a baby is newborn and you want to treasure and remember this short stage forever. It encourages both posed and photojournalistic coverage and provides a great attention to detail with a specialised style. This is what we mean when we think of a typical “photo shoot”. I’ve included a full example of what each session would typically mean below:

What mini sessions with me include:

Mini sessions include a limited session at a pre-set location with a pre-set number of poses and an enforced time limit (usually 15-20 minutes). Mini sessions will usually be scheduled at pre-set slots of time on pre-decided dates, from which the client can choose from on a first come, first to choose basis. Included in the session fee is a small number of images, agreed upon prior to the session, this is usually 2,3,4 or 5 images and may include a print. People usually receive between 5 and 20 fully edited (watermarked) images in their gallery, from which they can select the number of images that they have opted for to download without watermark and a print release. They can also purchase professional print products of these images. The remaining images are available to purchase as digital images, prints, wall art, albums and Christmas cards for an additional fee, should the client want to.

What a full session with me includes:

A full session at a location that will be decided by the client and photographer with the images best needs in mind. The needs of the client and the session may be discussed beforehand to determine a theme, or the client may simply trust in the photographer’s expertise. Full sessions include a great arrangement of props and materials, if they are needed, and can include the gathering of new props and materials. A larger combination of “poses” or prompts and the option to change clothing should the clients wish to. There is not usually a time limit set, although there are guideline times for different sessions (which will depend on the type: newborn, family, engagement and will be explained in a “what to expect” guide), the photographer will use her expertise to determine when she has enough photos from the session – or if the session should be delayed and re-shot. The clients pay a booking fee to secure my time is reserved and can then purchase images from a digital gallery 2-3 weeks later. Clients receive between 25 and 70 watermarked images in this gallery, all images will be fully retouched in my signature style, although they will remain heavily watermarked until they have been purchased. The booking fee is subtracted from the final order of images that clients make and there is a minimum spend should clients wish to purchase images, however, they are not obligated to buy any images should they not wish to.


Speaking of examples, my Christmas mini sessions just went on sale – so why not check them out for reference? Click here: Christmas mini session Kent.