What is a Mini Session?


What exactly is a mini session? Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot! Today I wanted to go over the differences between a mini session and regular photo session. As well as some pros and cons to both session types to help you narrow down which session is right for you!

Red Deer Family Mini Session Photographer

So what exactly is a mini session?

Well, a mini session is essentially a brief photo session, around 20 mins or less, at one location and is often offered seasonally. These sessions usually include only a handful of images at a lower cost than a photographers regular priced sessions. Mini sessions often pop up around popular photo seasons such as Fall, Christmas, or even Spring. A lot of photographers will add a special theme to their mini sessions such as mommy and me mini’s, Santa Clause mini’s, and much more!

Mini session are a great option for families with little kids. We all know that little ones don’t have the longest attention span. So being able to keep up to date with the family photo album each year is a huge selling factor for mini sessions.

Another huge perk is the price point of mini sessions. These sessions can be a lot more affordable for lower income families to have some beautiful photos by their favourite photographer, without having to pay their regular price.

Red Deer Family Photographer

What is typically included in a mini session?

A photographer that offers mini sessions will typically include 2-4 dates to choose from. All the sessions happen at ONE location and will include around 5-10 images with the option to later purchase more if desired. Your session will be booked in a 15-20 minute time window to allow enough time to grab all the essential images every mom wants!

Most mini sessions are promoted for a specific date set out by the photographer. The photographer will then set out specific time slots available on that date for each client to choose from. Depending on the time of year these session times can range anywhere between early morning to late evening. The time spots are always a first come first serve basis. So if you have a busy schedule you will want to grab your desired time quickly before it is taken.

Photographers who run mini sessions each year also tend to have a mailing list where they will give first dibs to anyone on that list before anyone else. If you have a family photographer you love working with, be sure to ask them about their mailing list and how you can be the first to know about upcoming mini sessions. You can join my list here to be in the know for all kinds of special promos!

Red Deer Photographer

Different Types of Mini Sessions


Let’s start by talking about the basic seasonal sessions such as Fall or Spring Mini’s. These mini sessions are easily the most popular of the year. Why? Because in Spring, the weather is finally changing and everyone wants to get out with their family in the fresh are and Spring time blooms. As for the fall… Well that should be quite obvious! Of course everyone wants their family photos done with all the beautiful coloured leaves! It’s not too hot, but it’s not often too cold yet. It really is the best time of year for photos.


This type of mini session is very specific and are often geared toward families with young kids. Themed mini session usually include a “Wow” factor! At Christmas time it may be having Santa Clause come. These sessions may even include a number of Christmas Cards! At Easter, themed mini sessions can include include baby chicks or Easter egg hunts. I have also seen themes such as Back to School, Mommy and Me, Valentines Mini’s, the list goes on! These are all examples of themed mini sessions! They are so fun, especially for kids and are definitely ones to watch for!

Red Deer Photographer

What mini sessions DO NOT include?

It is important to note what a mini session does not include so that you can know if this is the type of session you are looking for.

Mini sessions do not include:

  • Location Choice

Mini sessions are short, stacked, back to back sessions at one location so that the photographer has the ability to capture multiple families in a short amount of time. This back to back booking nature is what makes it impossible to choose a special location for your families mini session. Multiple locations is also another thing that a mini session just would not allow in terms of time. If you do desire a very specific or sentimental location, than definitely look into a regular session instead.

  • Extended Family

It is important to note that extended family sessions take MUCH longer then a mini session will allow for. In fact I would say if you have any more then 5 people in your immediate family, then a mini session may not be the best option. Your photographer will work very hard to get multiple different arrangements and poses of your entire family. But this does become more difficult to accomplish with a large number of people. “How many people can I bring” is definitely a question I would ask your photographer before you schedule a mini session.

  • Large Shot Lists

Now, if there is a pose or a photo you really want captured. By all means, let your photographer know! But showing up to a mini session with a huge list of 15 different poses and arrangement is definitely not a good fit for a mini session. As a photographer, my job is to help capture all your photo dreams! But with a large list, sometimes that takes time to recreate. Mini sessions just don’t allow time for that. I would suggest scheduling a regular length session so your photographer can have enough time to create those desired images for you.

Red Deer Mini Sessions

Questions to ask your photographer before you schedule a mini session?

I am a huge believer in qualifying my clients to the best of my ability so they know exactly what to expect from me, and what I expect from them when it comes to mini sessions. That is why I always send my clients a very detailed email so they know what to expect when they arrive at their mini session. These are definitely not easy sessions to just throw together. They take a lot of planning and communication to ensure each family receives images and an experience they are thrilled with! That being said, here are some questions I would recommend asking your photographer before you book a mini session:

  1. What if I want more images then what is included?
  2. How many people can I bring with me?
  3. Can I bring our dog(or pet)?
  4. How long will it take to receive our images?
  5. What should we wear?
  6. What poses/shots do you typically capture?
  7. What is the difference between your mini session and regular session?
Red Deer Family Photographer

Pros Vs Cons of Mini Sessions – Summary

To wrap this all up I figured I would just share the pros and cons to mini sessions in a quick list. Now, some of the pros and cons can be interchangeable depending on what type of session you are searching for. If is important to ask yourself what you are wanting from you photo session and your photographer so that you ensure you are getting everything you want.


  • Affordable
  • Shorter Time Frame
  • Seasonal/Fun Theme
  • Includes bonuses like Christmas Cards Ect…


  • Only a handful of images
  • Limited time
  • Limited number of people
  • No location freedom
  • Only select dates/times available
Red Deer Photographer

I LOVE offering mini sessions! They are some of my favourite sessions to do! Don’t forget to join my mailing list to find out when I will be offering them next! My VIP list always gets exclusive, first dibs offers to mini sessions and other special discounts so you won’t want to miss out on those!

  1. […] not sure what type of family session is best for you be sure to check out my post about What is a Mini Session before you make your […]

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