Mini Session vs Full Photo Session


February 12, 2021


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Often, I am asked what the difference is between a mini photo session and a full photo session so today I thought I’d explain! Mini session vs full photo session!

All photographers have different processes, different theories and different ways they build their business. I mean, that’s half the reason in being an entrepreneur….to do things the way YOU want, right?! Some of these things may even change from year to year depending on how much work we have and what our schedules allow.

Did you know….photographer’s schedules are nuts! We work mostly nights and weekends spending your family time with you because that is when our awesome clients are available. In Michigan, where I’m located, this gets even crazier because I would consider my work to be rather seasonal. I am EXTREMELY busy May through October then slow wayyy down when the weather gets cold. After being so busy, this slow down is rather welcome but my poor creative soul gets a little bored.

Lake Michigan family photo session at PJ Hoffmaster State Park

Mini Sessions!

Mini sessions are meant for anyone wanting a small session resulting in a handful of great photos. Times are a little more limited and the location is already pre-determined.


-The biggest one – mini sessions often cost less than a full session.

-If someone in your family doesn’t love having photos taken then it’s easier -to talk them into a short session than a 60-90 minute session 😉

-Digital images are always included (but usually a limited amount).

-You get great photos at different budget levels.


-You don’t get to choose the location (other than choosing from what’s already available).

-Mini sessions don’t work great for newborns – I actually don’t offer them for newborns unless it’s a rare exception.

-Mini sessions are only for individual families or individuals. Extended family sessions should not be done during mini session offerings. There just isn’t enough time!

-Time is limited, so if your child isn’t happy….I don’t have much time to turn things around (and I usually can with enough time 😉 ).

-Your gallery isn’t as diverse as a full session (less poses of each type of photo; family, the kids, kids alone, mom and dad together, etc).

-We don’t get to chat for an hour after (maybe that’s a pro haha!).

-I can only schedule one or two groups in the best light during the day.

Extended family photo session in Manistee Michigan in autumn

Full Photo Sessions

Full photo sessions are my favorite. I really love taking any photos but these sessions really allow me to get creative and look at your beautiful faces from every angle. You get to have nice structured family portraits then lots of candid playing shots that always end up as favorites. I always recommend scheduling a full session if it’s your first time having me photograph you or your family.


-You get to choose the location.

-Time is not limited to a 15-30 minute time block with someone coming directly after you.

-We have time to walk around an area, finding unique little nooks and crannies that may otherwise never be found due to time restraints.

-Your gallery is full of diverse images; structured family portraits, fun movement shots, close ups and far away images, shots of the kids along with portraits.

-You always get the good light!


-These cost more, of course.

-Some family members may not like hanging out with me for 60-90 minutes haha…

-Digital images are purchased separately from the session fee.

Rockford Michigan backyard clothesline mini photo session


Last year I started something called “Mini-Minis”. These are super short sessions that last about 15 minutes. Think an updated headshot, a senior boy who really doesn’t want to have photos taken or a 6 month milestone session for your little one. They are really only great for individuals or small families. I basically shoot rapid fire and do quick poses while watching you interact. These cost much less and produce 10-15 images (sometimes more). These are super fun!

Dad and daughters in the fall in Grand Rapids Michigan

Extended Minis

Extended mini sessions are probably my favorite mini-style session. These are usually 60 minutes and allow us to warm up a little before diving into photos (which is super helpful with children). We laugh, play tag, sit for a quick family photo then do a big group hug…’s a mini marathon for mom and dad (and me) but we end up with a large gallery of gorgeous images. These fall somewhere in the middle of a regular mini and a full session. Digital images are still included but since these cost more than a regular mini session, more images are included. Moms love the variety!

Fall family photos in Grand Rapids Michigan at The Highlands

No matter what option best suits your family, the important thing is taking the time to have family photos captured. And if you feel like you don’t know what works best….message me. I’d be happy to help you figure it out! When life is said and done, all that is important are the relationships and memories that you shared. Let’s capture some images to remember your beautiful life by before it slips by too quickly. Life sure has a way of doing that….doesn’t it?!

xoxo – Kellie

(Mini Session vs Full Photo Session – what works best for you?!)

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I'm Kellie and I'm so happy you're here. This blog a journal about my life, travels and favorite images. Stay a while and say hello!

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