• The Mini-Session Checklist

    How To Have A Perfect Mini Session Weekend

4 Months Before

  • Research Ideas

    Spend an evening in front of Netflix with a notebook and just jot down all ideas that come to mind. Yes, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc… they’re all easy ones. That also means those themes are going to be saturated with every photography in the world. Come up with themes that no one else is doing. Set yourself apart.

  • Select Date, Time, and Location

    The faster you get the date, time, and location on lockdown the faster you can start creating your marketing materials and promoting it. Locking in your location also allows you get the prime real estate and best locations before your competition gets them (assuming it’s not a public place).

3 Months Before

  • Finalize Your Theme And Setup

    Now is the time to come up with your final ideas and lock in that theme. Purchase your backdrops, props, etc.

2.5 Months Before

  • Put Together Your Mini Session Setup And Take Sample Photographs

    The best way to sell something is to show it. It’s science. Setup your mini-sessions and create sample shots that you can use to sell your mini-session event in the future. If you have children this is even easier. Not only do you get your sample shots but your own family photographs are done months in advance. Trying out your setup now will also allow you to discover issues or make changes so your setup will be perfect when your real clients come in.

2 Months Before

  • Create And Perfect Your Marketing Materials

    You don’t want to market on the fly. It’s a fools errand. Instead have all of your marketing materials ready to go from the moment you throw out that first ad. This includes preparing your blog posts, mini-session sample shots, email marketing, invitiations (for previous customers) and even posters for some local networking.

6 Weeks Before

  • Announce It To Your Previous Clients

    Give your best and most loyal clients first-dibs on your newest mini-sessions. Why? Because it promotes customer loyalty. You also know they’re good clients who will bring minimal issues. It’s also the quickest way to fill your calendar because you’ve already done all the marketing and vetting to hook them the first time. The seeds are planted, just send the invites.

    Note: Once you get in your groove, expect 50-75% of your new mini-sessions to be filled by previous clients.

5 Weeks Before

  • Announce It To The Public

    Now that you should be at least half-way filled up (assuming this isn’t your first or second mini-session day), it’s time to announce it to the general public and fill any remaining spots you have. Start firing off those daily social media posts, send the ad to everyone on your mailing list, etc.

4 Weeks Before

  • Find Your Assistant

    An assistant is going to make things flow much more smoothly. Having a second hand will help with setup, kid wrangling, and even keep families busy if there’s any crossover between sessions. Seriously, don’t skimp on an assistant. Build it into your price. Or even better, have your spouse or a friend help out for free.

  • Begin Scheduling and/or Verify Your Schedules For Each Day

    If you haven’t planned out  your day(s) already, now is the time. Get all of your clients on your schedule organized and ready to go. Give yourself a 15 minute buffer between them as while you’ll be working like an oiled machine, delays happen, people show up early, etc.

1 Week Before

  • Send Your Clients A 2 Week Reminder

    Send your clients an email or text message with a 2 week reminder. Feel free to also include any tips or notes that you want to include like style choices, a reminder to be on time, etc.

  • Begin Scheduling and/or Verify Your Schedules For Each Day

    If you haven’t planned out  your day(s) already, now is the time. Get all of your clients on your schedule organized and ready to go. Give yourself a 15 minute buffer between them as while you’ll be working like an oiled machine, delays happen, people show up early, etc.

  • Fill in any scheduling holes.

    Maybe you’ve had a few cancellations or you just haven’t filled a spot or two. Offer spots to your most loyal of customers at a discount (or even better, just add value). You don’t want empty spots on your schedule because we want to maximize income since everything is already setup anyway. Idle time is loss of profit!

3 Days Before

  • Prepare Your Space

    If possible (depending on the venue) prepare your mini-session space. Have enough seating for a large family (in case you have early arrivals). Make sure the room can flow with multiple families in it at once. Maybe have some toys / game console or something to keep waiting families entertained.

    Setup your mini-session shooting.

  • Purchase snacks / drinks.

    Nothing will make a person angry and un-poseable like being hungry or thirsty. Have some light snacks and drinks (juice boxes, Capri Sun, etc) on hand. The $10 you’ll spend will void you of so many angry demon children.

2 Days Before

  • Send A Final Reminder Email.

    Send one final email out to your scheduled families with any last minute instructions. Maybe some wardrobe ideas, etc. This will also serve as a reminder so you don’t have any no-shows.

1 Day Before

  • Check Out Your Space One More Time

    Do a complete run through a typical client with your own kids or just imagine it. Do you have any potential issues with your process? If so, fix them up now. You want your day to run as smoothly as possible.

  • Charge Batteries And Prepare Your Camera Bag

    Make sure your camera bag is complete, your lighting is ready to go, and you have way more batteries than you should need. If possible double up on everything in case something breaks. The last thing you want to do is lose a flash at 10am and not have a backup for the rest of the day. Don’t forget the memory cards.

Mini Session Day

  • First, Be Calm.

    Everything you’ve done thus far was done with the intent on allowing you to be calm and collected today. Don’t do any business today, just shoot, laugh, have fun, and take on challenges as they happen in a calm and collected manner. You got this.

  • Unload Your Photographs After Every Family Or Two

    Memory card issues happen. If you’re able to, unload your raw files to an external HDD or laptop when you have breaks through out the day. Even though it’s rare, data loss happens, it’s better to lose one session as opposed to the whole day’s sessions.

1 Day After

  • Reflect On Your Day And Process Thus Far

    The shoot is over, the hard work is done. Take a moment or two and reflect the whole day’s events. What can be improved for next time? Is there any way to improve your process? What have you learned? Write it all down while it’s still fresh in your mind.

  • Unload Your Memory Cards And Back The Files Up

    The big day is finished and it’s time to recover. Grab a glass of wine and unload and ingest your photographs. Load them up in Lightroom (or your favorite editing software) and take a quick look through. How’d you do?

2 Days After

  • Start Editing

    Hopefully you’re fully recovered by now. It’s time to start editing. If you had a full schedule you probably have a lot of editing to do. Put on Netflix on the monitor/television next to you and go to work.

3 Days After

  • Send A Thank You Email To Everyone

    Sending a thank you note out is not only good customer service but it allows you to set some expectations and/or reinforce what you’ve already communicated to them. Along with your thank you, let them know how long your editing process usually takes, how they’ll get their photographs, etc.

1 Week After

  • Build Excitement, Shoot Out Some Sneak Peaks

    Depending on your turnaround time it may be a good time to blast some sneak peaks out on your social media. This will get your clients excited about the whole session and will create some super-shareable social media love. If you’re selling prints this will also create some excitement and plant that seed which will lead to more sales.

2 Weeks After

  • Build Excitement, Shoot Out Some Sneak Peaks

    Depending on your turnaround time it may be a good time to blast some sneak peaks out on your social media. This will get your clients excited about the whole session and will create some super-shareable social media love. If you’re selling prints this will also create some excitement and plant that seed which will lead to more sales.

1 Week After

  • Build Excitement, Shoot Out Some Sneak Peaks

    Depending on your turnaround time it may be a good time to blast some sneak peaks out on your social media. This will get your clients excited about the whole session and will create some super-shareable social media love. If you’re selling prints this will also create some excitement and plant that seed which will lead to more sales.