Full session vs. mini-session: What’s the difference?

Family Photo Session

If you’re trying to decide between booking a full hour session or a 15-minute mini-session for your family photos, I want to help you understand the benefits of each, so you can end up with the images you want. First let’s dive into the benefits of a full hour family session.

Full Session: Kids have time to adjust to their new environment

Whether it’s an enormous beach, or an expansive field, kids sometimes need time to adjust to a new setting before they can be expected to focus on getting their photo taken.

Full Session: Kids have time to warm up to me

Sometimes children are shy, and need time warm up to me since I’m a new person to them. I have three young children so I get it. Once we take the time to make sure they’re comfortable, it’s usually all good.

Full Session: Time to play

We’ll have time to let the kids run and get their wiggles out, or take a break, or just play. The best thing to do with toddlers or little kids, when you want to get a natural photo of them, is to LET THEM BE! Let them play and do their thing. The more we force them into photos, the less they’ll want to participate. Having a full hour, gives us time to let them have their space and give them little breaks.

Full-Session: Emotive, candid, authentic photos

My number one favorite thing about full sessions is that after we get the “whole family smiling at the camera” shot, I then have time to get some beautiful candid shots of your family and really capture the connection between family members.

Full-Session: Everyone is dressed up and ready

…which is not a small feat for a family. Between outfits, haircuts, driving to a location…it’s a (worthwhile) commitment. This is just a personal opinion, but for ME, if I’m going to put in the effort of getting myself and my family ready for a photoshoot (and I do, because professional photos of my family with me in them are important to me), I want the full hour and I want all the photos!

Full-Session: Optimal lighting and your choice of location

Assuming your full session is at golden hour (the hour before sunset), you get to have the gorgeous, glowing, flattering, optimal light during your session. You might not get this specific light during a mini-session since it’s only 15 minutes long and probably in open shade (shade is still pretty though). Lastly, you get to pick your location if you book a full session. I have a list of beautiful locations I share with clients – meadows, fields, beaches, city scapes, etc. Or we can do the photoshoot at your home if you’d like.

Now onto the benefits of mini-sessions.

Mini-sessions: They’re quick!

Of course the main benefit of mini-sessions is that they’re quick and relatively painless. You still need to get your family ready, but it’s over before you know it. You can tell your kids, “Please be good listeners for 15 minutes, and then we’ll all celebrate together (with an ice cream, playground visit, treat…whatever)”.

Mini-sessions: Holiday card checked off the list!

This is major. Once that card is done, you can breath a sigh of relief. AND you can potentially get some holiday gifts checked off your list too (framed prints, albums, canvases, etc).

Mini-Sessions: A traditional family portrait is usually the outcome

My main goal during a mini-session is to get the “money shot” – a portrait of the whole family together, looking (smiling if possible) at the camera. I take a BUNCH of photos in the same spot, so if I need to do a head-swap in Photoshop, I’m able to pull it off. After the portrait I’ll get a sibling shot, and then if there’s time left, I’ll try to get a few candid shots and maybe a portrait of each child – it all depends.

Mini-sessions: Lower price point

Since you only receive a few photos, the cost of a mini-session will be less than a full session.

Mini-sessions: pet-friendly

I usually hold mini-sessions at a dog-friendly location, so it’s a good opportunity to bring your furry family member to be included in the family portrait. Pets usually do better at mini-sessions because they’re quick, but I’ve absolutely had some pets do excellent during an hour session too…depends on your pet 🙂

I hope this clarifies what you can expect from both mini sessions and full sessions. Please reach out to me if you have questions, or need help deciding which session is right for you!

Note: the information above applies to family photo sessions only, not newborn, maternity, engagement, or extended family sessions.