Is a Mini Session Right For Me?

There is a lot of talk about “mini sessions” in the world of family photos. One of my most frequently asked questions is, “Are you going to do mini sessions?” It usually sounds like the best kind of deal, and who doesn’t love a good deal? I do offer mini sessions occasionally, and I do think mini sessions are great, IF they fit your photo expectations. But there are also times when a mini session isn’t going to meet those expectations.

To help you decide, I’ve created some questions to consider before you schedule your next family session.

Tonya Edwards Photography | Oroville Family Photographer | family of four sitting by a pond family portrait photo session

What are your session expectations?

Are you looking for a quick photo to put on a holiday card or a collection that will create more of a story? 

Mini sessions typically last no more than 20 minutes, more often 10-15 minutes. They can be unpredictable and can feel very rushed. This is plenty of time to capture a handful of images worthy of a Christmas card or for sharing on social media, but it isn’t enough time to capture the kind of moments that unfold when everyone has had time to relax and forget that a camera is pointed at them.

Are you particular about where your session will take place?

Mini sessions are held at a pre-determined location to make it easier to accommodate multiple clients. Full sessions can be held at any location of your choice. Hopefully, somewhere that is meaningful to your family.

Do you expect a certain “look” based on other images I’ve created?

The images I create are heavily influenced by the light available. Most people love the glowy, warm light of sunset, but that light is available for only a short period of time each evening. I usually schedule multiple mini sessions in a row, so the light during each 20 minute increment will vary slightly. This is not to say that earlier sessions will not be beautiful, they will, but the light may have a different quality than a session that spans closer to sunset.

A mini session might be right for you if your expectations are flexible and your goal is just a few good photos of your family.

A full session might be right for you if you have a specific location or time in mind, or if you’re looking for images that are more personal to your family’s story.

Tonya Edwards Photography | Oroville Family Photographer | daddy and me family photo session father and two children playing on rocks at golden hour

What are the personalities of your children and family members?

Are they shy and slow to warm up or outgoing and at ease? I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a mother say, “Oh, I don’t think my kid will cooperate for longer than 15 minutes.” It’s true, children lose interest quickly when you’re forcing them to stand in a certain spot and “say cheese.” If you’ve followed here for very long though, you’ll know this isn’t my style. More often, it takes kids longer than 15 minutes to connect with me in a way that will yield honest photos. All of my kids are very shy and, while they are generally agreeable and follow directions, it takes them a while before they can relax and let their personalities show.

A mini session might be right for you if your children are outgoing and cooperate easily or if you aren’t particular about the kinds of expressions and connections that are captured.

A full session might be right for you if your children are shy and slow to warm up or if you hope to capture specific expressions and relationships within the family.

Tonya Edwards Photography | Oroville Family Photographer | extended family photo session three generations of family lifestyle portrait

Who is going to be in the photo?

Mini sessions are for a specific grouping of people, for example, just children, mommy and me, or families. The time during a mini session passes surprisingly quick, so creating multiple groupings within a family (for example, dad and boys, parents only, the whole family together) is rarely possible. More often, I will only have time to pose the whole family in 2-3 different poses. For a full family session, I like to focus on not just the family as a whole, but also the unique relationships and stories between different family members to create images that are personal to them. The quantity of people in the photos will also be a deciding factor when choosing a session. Multi-generational, extended family sessions are an amazing way to celebrate your family and I truly love capturing them, but since mini sessions are so short, it isn’t possible to do justice to these shoots in anything less than a full session.

A mini session might be right for you if your expectations fit the framework of the mini session being offered, and you are satisfied with a few unique poses.

A full session might be right for you if you want to capture more than just your immediate family or if you would like to capture different groupings within your immediate family. It is also a good choice if you don’t want to feel rushed or would like to capture the different relationships between members of your family.

Tonya Edwards Photography | Oroville Photographer | lifestyle photo session mother father with baby daughter in the winter

Do you have a specific list of shots you would like to try to accomplish?

My most important goal, in any type of session, is to create images you love. I am happy to incorporate your input if you have a specific vision for your shoot. During a quick mini session, we may be able to collaborate on one or two ideas, but if you have a long list, we likely won’t be able to address them all. A full session allows enough time to explore ideas and to try different things when/if something doesn’t work out right away.

A mini session might be right for you if you are flexible in the direction of the shoot and don’t have a specific shot list in mind.

A full session might be right for you if you have specific ideas you would like to try to capture.

A quick word about pricing.

I know that price plays a large part in what type of session most people choose to schedule. Instead of trying to justify my prices to you, I ask you to consider the value of these photos for your family. To your children and their children. These are the photos that will matter most someday, and while a budget is absolutely important to consider, it may be more helpful to consider the cost as an investment rather than an expense. 

Choosing the photo session that best suits your expectations and goals.

For any type of session, mini or otherwise, I always try to make sure to align our visions and expectations. Taking a few minutes to truly think about what you want to achieve in your session will help to ensure you receive a set of images you’ll love and cherish. Tell me, what type of session will you schedule this year?

Full Family Sessions are always available for booking, at any time, in any season.

To book a family session, you can email me at,

or click “contact me” above and send me a message.

You can also visit my pricing page for more details and information about my session fees.

Tentative schedule of upcoming mini sessions:

September 2019 - Portraits of Childhood {Back to School edition}

October 2019 - Family mini sessions

Mini session booking is always released to my mailing list first, so make sure you add yourself.

Don’t worry, I’m not organized enough to spam your inbox frequently.

It’s just the good information you want, promise.