This is a guest blog post from Courtney Venable of Courtney Venable Photography, regarding mini sessions strategies.
Courtney Venable is the owner of Courtney Venable Photography located in Indianapolis, Indiana. She specializes in child and family photography, and has been shooting for nearly eleven years. She is specifically proficient (and admittedly pretty great) at mini sessions. Over the past several years, she has mostly mastered the art of booking, preparing, shooting, and delivering galleries for all her mini sessions. She has taught several workshops and mentored other photographers specifically on mini sessions.
If you are a photographer, you either love them or you hate them, am I right? I have heard so many photographers say, “I don’t know how you do minis! I can’t even book them, and if I do, I dread them!” I am here to tell you; it does NOT have to be that way!
So here I am, ready to spill all my mini session tea, if you will. Hopeful that my little tips and tricks will help you become a little more comfortable with them. Maybe you will even dislike them a little bit less or love them a little bit more.
I am telling you right now, that is the number one thing you MUST have if you want to be successful. As an Iris user, this is a pretty key component in booking and organizing my minis from the very start. Iris has actually been essential for my business as a whole when it comes to organization.
Marketing Your Minis
Let’s start even a little before that. Be your own hype person! I hype that mini like it would literally be tragic if they missed it. Go on your Facebook, Insta, stories, Twitter, whatever social media outlet you love (or all of the above) to let your clients know when you are posting, what time you are posting, what the theme is, and that it is first come first serve, so “be at your computer ready to book”! This makes getting one of those spots exciting. They are limited, and they should be excited if they get a spot!
Creating a Booking Calendar
I then create a Booking Calendar in Iris. I pick a date, and I set up each time slot at twenty minutes with a ten-minute break between each to reset for the next crew. I add my workflow, which includes my contract, the invoice (paid in full, non-refundable, non-transferrable), a ‘thank you for booking’ welcome e-mail, and a questionnaire. Once I have that set up, I post it all over my social media. Try to post at the time you promised in your hype post! Once they click on that time slot, I don’t have to do anything else, as the work flow is already set up to do everything for me.
I consider one of the most important parts of my booking process my questionnaire. If you don’t have one, make one! I promise it has been a game changer in helping my sessions run smoothly. Before a mini even begins, I know I have twenty short minutes to get those sweet kids warmed up. In my questionnaire, I ask the names, ages, favorite songs, favorite movies, a little bit about their personality, and any other important details I should know about them. When I walk into that session, I know Claire loves princesses, her favorite is Belle, she is three years old, takes a little bit to warm up, and if you sing “Into the Unknown” she will be your BFF. Boom. I officially have a three-year-old bestie before the session even begins.
During each mini, I have a pretty specific pose flow. While I will 100% give them the candid photos, I want to make sure that I am able to get all my “expected” poses in that twenty minutes. Make a list, but know that sometimes you must be a little flexible depending on how quickly your little friends warm up. I have most of my pose flow memorized at this point, but if you are just starting, bring a list! I promise no one will care or likely even notice!
Thank You’s and Galleries
Once I am done with the sessions, I have it set (again, as a part of my workflow through Iris) to send a thank you e-mail and let them know when to expect their gallery, the process in which I will send their photos, and how much I appreciate their business. Some of this is mentioned in the welcome e-mail, but it’s usually been a few weeks since that was received, so it is a good reminder.
Each client gets a gallery of usually around twenty edited images. They can choose ten of their favorites, and if they would like to purchase more, they can pick additional photos for a set price per image. I ensure the download instructions are very easy to understand to minimize the amount of questions I have once I deliver them. I would say the vast majority of clients end up purchasing additional images. Bonus!
And that’s it, ladies and gents!
Like I said above, organization is key. Not only am I organized and professional in my booking process, during my sessions, and my delivery, but people know they don’t have to worry about anything should they decide to book with me again.
Mini sessions do not have to be scary, tedious, or overwhelming. They can be fun and exciting (oh, and an awfully big money maker…and who doesn’t want THAT?)