Client Guides

August 31, 2022

Mini Session vs. Full Photo Session | What is the Difference?

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Mini Session vs. Full Photo Session | What is the Difference for Family Photos?

Have you ever wondered if a mini session vs. a full photo session is best for your family photos this year? As a professional photographer in Northern Virginia, I get this question all the time. I know it can be hard to decide! So I’m finally putting together a guide to help you choose.


mini session vs full photo session

It’s best to book a full portrait session if:

  • You want flexibility in choosing a date and time. I only offer mini sessions on 1-2 dates a year. They’re not available at any other time, so if you want to pick your own date, a full session is best.
  • You want more options in your gallery. A full session is typically up to 60 minutes long. Your gallery will have at least 35 unique photos, although we often get more. Because we spend more time together, you’ll end up with more photos and more variety. A mini session only comes with 5 photos, with the option to upgrade to 12.
  • You want natural, relaxed photos that reflect your family at this stage. The more time we spend together, the more comfortable everyone gets in front of the camera. This is especially true for little ones! It seems counterintuitive, but the best moments happen when they can play and forget I’m there. These are the photos that truly reflect the individual personalities in your family.
  • You want a specific location for your photos. I love helping my families and couples choose the best location! Looking for marble columns and epic DC views? The National Mall might be best! If you’re looking for  architecture and nature elements? We should look into some of the beautiful venues in the area that offer both (like Great Marsh Estate or Tudor Place).
  • You want film photography. I reserve film photography for my full sessions only. At mini sessions I only use my digital camera. Each film roll only captures 16 frames, so I’m even more intentional with every click of the shutter. If you love the look of film photography, a full session is the right choice for you.
  • You want styling advice and access to the client closet of dresses. You can set up a styling meeting to try on dresses, and I can help you pick pieces for everyone in the family. I’ll even put together a styling board if you want to get an idea of how all the outfits look together!


mini session vs full photo session

It’s best to book a mini session if:

  • You’re looking for short and sweet. My mini sessions are only 10 minutes long. They go by so quickly and feel a bit more “ok everyone look here” compared to a full session.
  • Your goal is to get just a handful of photos. Usually clients want to use them for a holiday card or an updated photo to send to family members.
  • You don’t mind being limited by a specific date, location or time spot. Many photographers only do mini sessions on specific dates. For example, I only offer them a couple of times throughout the year. Each time they are on a set date and location, without any flexibility for changing those details.
  • You’re fine handling wardrobe on your own. I share a styling guide with my mini session clients, but I’m unable to offer the full wardrobe styling experience. (Access to my client closet of dresses, personalized advice for everyone’s outfit, style boards, etc.)
  • You’re looking for more straightforward photos (everyone looking at the camera or individual portraits looking at the camera). We can use your mini session time to get those specific photos without spending time on candid, relaxed moments as a family. This can often be good if you have older children or teens, since we can quickly get everyone in position, take the photos, and let you get on with your day!

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So, which photo option is right for you?  

If you decided a full session is best, and you are interested in working with me, fill out my contact form here to get started. I take a limited number of full sessions each month, so it’s best to reach out early!

If you decided a mini session is best, you’re in luck – I have just a few spots left for 2022 fall mini sessions in Northern Virginia! You can see the details and book your own fall mini session HERE.

Still undecided? Send me an email at with your questions, and I’ll help you out. You can also sign up for my email newsletter here for future mini sessions, unique portrait opportunities and more.


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