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What is the difference between a mini session and a regular session? Indianapolis Indiana

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

This is one of the most asked questions that I receive from my clients when they inquire about a portrait session { family, maternity, couples, etc}. There are so many perks and advantages to both and I am going to break them down for you here.


As you may have assumed or already known, the main difference between a mini and a full session is the length of time that the photographer spends with you and your family. A mini session is known to be short and sweet {15-20 minutes}, and grabs the essentials {family shots, kiddo shots, sibling shots,etc}. If everyone is behaving well and are in good spirits, a mini session can ultimately give you lots of variety of poses in a short period of time. The men in the families typically love these smaller time slots, as do small kiddos who have a shorter attention span. Time can also be a disadvantage for those participating in a mini session if there are family members who are not cooperating, and there's no wiggle room for extra time as families are scheduled back to back. This is when I really encourage families to embrace the love, snuggles, and the candid moments instead of stressing about those perfect family shots.

On the other hand, a full session is longer, around 45 minutes {can be up to an hour for more needy kiddos}, and has a less rushed experience. There may be more opportunities to get to know each other, really capture the personalities of the kiddos, and get a variety of candid and fun shots. This can also happen in a mini, but a full session gives us that laid back style with more prompts for genuine connection. This does not mean that you will be free of uncooperating children or husbands {haha}, however, you will have that extra time for snacks and snuggles and coming up with more games to encourage them!

Time of day

There is also a difference in the mini session and full session when referencing the time of day that the session takes place. A full session typically gets the optimal evening time right before the sun sets. It doesn't gaurantee that sun will be present at the time of the session, however, when it is, that full session gets to benefit the most from the best lighting. A mini session is always scheduled before the full session or sessions. That doesn't mean a mini session doesn't have good lighting, it just means they won't have a possibility of any sunset type photos. For those with smaller kiddos that don't want to push the 8pm start in the summer, the sunset spot may not be of interest to them.

There are times that I only do minis in an evening, but those are limited around the year and spots fill up fast for those...because everyone gets the best lighting out of those evenings!


As the photographer, I will always choose the location of where my sessions will take place, however, with full sessions, I do allow my clients to give input of what they may like for the background. They may ask for an open field, water, woods, etc. They may even reference a photo from a past session I have done, and I will give my input as far as whether I think that time of year would be optimal for their session at that location.

When it comes to mini sessions, they take place at the photographer's choice of location, or where my full session has chosen for their session. That is just the added perk of a full session in comparison to a mini session.


The last difference between a mini and a full session is the cost of the session. The full session is more expensive than a mini session, and I typically recommend this route for new clients, clients with larger families, and clients that want that documentary approach. For my past clients, or clients with only 2-4 family members, and clients that simply want updated family photos, a mini session would work great for them. Though I have done minis with families of 8, and full sessions with families of 2 people. It all depends on what you are looking for.

I personally love the story telling that a full session brings, but I also love that I am able to connect with so many families throughout the year by allowing shorter sessions {something most photographers do not offer}.

Also, how could I not end this off by mentioning how AMAZING this family's outfit choices were. The earthy color tones {specifically creams, browns, and blacks} truly make this family pop out of the photos, and compliments their skin tones beautifully. Also this was a 30 degree windy day, and they made sure to have that important layering, not only for the style, but also for the comfort. There is a cute pattern thrown in there, but not overpowering with too many patterns. And how could we not point out that cute hat!! Love incorporating a piece like that in a session. As you may have already assumed, this was a full session that rendered close to 200 images {many very similar} for the client to pick from!

If you are still stuck on outfits, you can't go wrong with this type of color scheme!

Family photographer in Indianapolis Indiana

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