Okay, I'm going to be honest here. There's nothing more annoying than when a new client contacts a photographer and asks for a "mini session." This term is confusing, misleading, and overused, especially by new photographers. There are a LOT of problems with offering mini sessions - one of the biggest is that you get deal-seekers instead of legitimate clients looking for a family photographer. Deal-seekers are those who don't value photography or a quality photographer, aren't looking to establish a long-term relationship, support a local business or even ever come back to you again. They just want the cheapest pictures they can get. These are usually the same folks that will bring printouts of OTHER photographer's work and expect you to recreate it. No, no, no, no, no, no no, and no.
Another problem with mini sessions is they don't allow sufficient time for the family to warm up to the shoot or the kids to establish a relationship and trust with the photographer. I cannot walk up to a family I've never met and get emotion, laughter, love, and happiness in a 10 minute session. It just takes longer.
And for all you photogs out there starting out, ANOTHER problem with mini sessions is that you are basically still spending almost the same time on them as a full session but for a fraction of the pay. You still have to pack up your very expensive equipment, drive to the location, take the photos (with that same very expensive equipment), drive back, upload the photos to your computer, process the photos and deliver the photos in whichever manner you do. If you are willing to do that for a very low price then clients will always expect you to do that. Which leads to not profiting at all, burning out, and potentially giving up photography because you think it isn't profitable and the clients suck.
NOW having said all that, here is why I still offer mini sessions, usually twice a year. The main reason is that my clients harass me to no end if I don't. I'm being funny but also, it's true. They harass me sure, but these are my regular, wonderful, supportive clients and I truly want to make them happy. Mini sessions in my business offer a chance for the clients who have supported my business throughout the year to get a cheaper, easier session in between full sessions. Because lets face it, your kids are changing CONSTANTLY and their school photos suck.
The solution I've come up with has worked really well for us the past couple of years and that is to do the mini sessions at my home studio. In the past I have lost money on them (boo.) In the past I have broke even (still boo). But I seem to have finally found some fun and cute sets that don't break the bank and allow us to make a little money for our effort while keeping our clients thrilled and seeing our favorite kids mid-year. And... they're so fun! We always have a really good time and so do the kids. And I don't know about you but I personally love to have themed artwork around my house to go with the different seasons. Nobody wants ALL Christmas photos in their house all the time (do they?) As long as we can make the time we will continue to do these mini sessions as a thank you to our favorite clients, friends, and family and for fun! As a matter of fact I already have been hit with inspiration for the next one and it is totally summer themed so someone please stop me before I go crazy!