Mini Session vs Full-Length Family Photo Session | Pittsburgh

“Mini photoshoot or a regular photo session?!”

So you finally decided to hire a photographer for your family but now you have to decide on a mini photoshoot vs. a full-length family photo session. In this post, I’ll explain the difference between each one and help you decide which may be right for your family.

mom dad baby boy brother and sister sitting and smiling for a photo


The main difference between these two types of sessions is the amount of time spent on each session. Mini sessions are usually much shorter than a regular photo session. They can last anywhere from as little as five minutes to around 30 minutes.

Mini Sessions usually include just a few digital images. You can expect as little as one or two images or up to 30 digital images. However, some mini sessions have a session fee that do not include anything but the session time and any digital images or products are an additional purchase.

You’ll find each photographer will be different as to what they include with their mini sessions and how long the session will be. Just be sure to read the fine print on what is or what is not included.

family on a wall looking at each other


Usually, mini’s are themed sessions for holidays or seasons. Some will include props and a decorated setting in a studio or outside and some have no props at all. Around Christmas, you can get photos with Santa, on a Christmas tree farm and in the Spring you can find Easter and spring-themed sessions in a studio or outdoors.

Sometimes mini sessions are only just for the kids and do not include the whole family. And sometimes they only include the kids just with their Mom or just with Dad, which is common around Mother’s and Father’s Day.

family lifestyle photo session at beechwood farms in pittsburgh


Another one of the main deciding factors for families when faced with this decision, is cost. In most areas, it is not hard at all to find plenty of photographers offering affordable mini sessions all year round.

A mini session usually costs much less than a full session so this may be enticing for a family to choose to book a mini instead of a full-length session for their family. However, if your budget allows it, please consider weighing your options a little further.

mother and son for lifestyle family session at beechwood farms pittsburgh


Many parents will decide on a mini session because they think there is no way that their child will behave for a session longer than 10-15 minutes. While this may be true, it’s important to also think about what kind of photography style you are considering. So yes, if you are thinking of a posed session where they have to behave, stand still, and smile for the camera for an hour, then yes, a mini session may be a better idea!


However, if you choose a lifestyle or documentary full-length photo session with a photographer like myself, your kids do NOT have to pose and smile and behave for an hour or more! This is the kind of session I do with families and I encourage running, playing, and even roughhousing and being goofy! I want kids to have fun, even if that brings chaos and I want them to relax and be themselves.

Oftentimes, a mini session can produce fake and “cheesy” smiles from your children. With a lifestyle session, I take a mix of fun candid photos and naturally posed images that produce genuine smiles.

mother and son on bench in Mellon park walled garden with yellow flowers mini photoshoot vs full-length family photo session


A mini session can also end up being a bit stressful for parents. Sometimes, 10 to 15 minutes is not enough time to get your baby or child to relax and smile. Mini sessions usually have strict time constraints and you can not go past your allotted time slot and this can be stressful if you spend the 1st 10 minutes getting your six month old to stop crying or your four year old to stop running off. A full-length session can be less stressful for the parents and the children because it leaves plenty of time for getting them to relax and smile.

sister making silly faces in sewickley riverfront park


I personally feel like 15-25 minutes is not enough time for a family photo session. I prefer to spend more time with families and get to know them. I love to have the time to get to chat and get everyone to relax and loosen up so they can have fun and be themselves. And I love being able to get down on your child’s level and talk to them for a bit and even wait 10-15 minutes before I even take my first photo!

mother with son and daughter on Townsend park murrysville with fall foliage for a mini session


Now, of course, a mini session has its place and it’s a wonderful alternative if you are on a tighter budget and you want up-to-date and affordable photos of your family and children. You may also consider alternating full-length sessions with mini sessions every other year or so or even doing one of each every year!

I know many families that do this. They schedule a full-length session with me in the spring or summer but they may do a Santa or other Christmas mini session later in the year with a different photographer. I think that is a wonderful idea.

mom and her little girl on porch of pittsburgh home


You may have noticed by now that I’m not a huge fan of shooting mini sessions. I’ve done many of them in the past but have since decided they were not the right fit for me and my style of photography.

However, there is a (small) chance I will do them again sometime in the future…


Otherwise, if you think a full-length family session may be the best decision for your family, then I am the photographer for you!


If I should change my mind and schedule mini sessions, get on my email list to be one of the first to know about it! I’ll send an email before I share on social media. You can sign up here!


I hope that this post was able to help you decide if a mini photoshoot vs a full-length family photo session is best for your family.

Go check out my family galleries and learn more about family photo sessions.


Have any questions or concerns?  
Please get in touch to ask me anything or to book a family photo session!


Are you on Instagram?
Let’s connect over there!


~All images by Mary Beth Miller Photography ~

Mary Beth Miller Photography specializes in lifestyle and documentary family & newborn photography in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and many of the surrounding areas.  Her style is very relaxed and natural and your family session will feel like a stress-free Sunday afternoon with your family!

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Mini Session vs Full-Length Family Photo Session | Pittsburgh

“Mini photoshoot or a regular photo session?!”

So you finally decided to hire a photographer for your family but now you have to decide on a mini photoshoot vs. a full-length family photo session. In this post, I’ll explain the difference between each one and help you decide which may be right for your family.

mom dad baby boy brother and sister sitting and smiling for a photo


The main difference between these two types of sessions is the amount of time spent on each session. Mini sessions are usually much shorter than a regular photo session. They can last anywhere from as little as five minutes to around 30 minutes.

Mini Sessions usually include just a few digital images. You can expect as little as one or two images or up to 30 digital images. However, some mini sessions have a session fee that do not include anything but the session time and any digital images or products are an additional purchase.

You’ll find each photographer will be different as to what they include with their mini sessions and how long the session will be. Just be sure to read the fine print on what is or what is not included.

family on a wall looking at each other


Usually, mini’s are themed sessions for holidays or seasons. Some will include props and a decorated setting in a studio or outside and some have no props at all. Around Christmas, you can get photos with Santa, on a Christmas tree farm and in the Spring you can find Easter and spring-themed sessions in a studio or outdoors.

Sometimes mini sessions are only just for the kids and do not include the whole family. And sometimes they only include the kids just with their Mom or just with Dad, which is common around Mother’s and Father’s Day.

family lifestyle photo session at beechwood farms in pittsburgh


Another one of the main deciding factors for families when faced with this decision, is cost. In most areas, it is not hard at all to find plenty of photographers offering affordable mini sessions all year round.

A mini session usually costs much less than a full session so this may be enticing for a family to choose to book a mini instead of a full-length session for their family. However, if your budget allows it, please consider weighing your options a little further.

mother and son for lifestyle family session at beechwood farms pittsburgh


Many parents will decide on a mini session because they think there is no way that their child will behave for a session longer than 10-15 minutes. While this may be true, it’s important to also think about what kind of photography style you are considering. So yes, if you are thinking of a posed session where they have to behave, stand still, and smile for the camera for an hour, then yes, a mini session may be a better idea!


However, if you choose a lifestyle or documentary full-length photo session with a photographer like myself, your kids do NOT have to pose and smile and behave for an hour or more! This is the kind of session I do with families and I encourage running, playing, and even roughhousing and being goofy! I want kids to have fun, even if that brings chaos and I want them to relax and be themselves.

Oftentimes, a mini session can produce fake and “cheesy” smiles from your children. With a lifestyle session, I take a mix of fun candid photos and naturally posed images that produce genuine smiles.

mother and son on bench in Mellon park walled garden with yellow flowers mini photoshoot vs full-length family photo session


A mini session can also end up being a bit stressful for parents. Sometimes, 10 to 15 minutes is not enough time to get your baby or child to relax and smile. Mini sessions usually have strict time constraints and you can not go past your allotted time slot and this can be stressful if you spend the 1st 10 minutes getting your six month old to stop crying or your four year old to stop running off. A full-length session can be less stressful for the parents and the children because it leaves plenty of time for getting them to relax and smile.

sister making silly faces in sewickley riverfront park


I personally feel like 15-25 minutes is not enough time for a family photo session. I prefer to spend more time with families and get to know them. I love to have the time to get to chat and get everyone to relax and loosen up so they can have fun and be themselves. And I love being able to get down on your child’s level and talk to them for a bit and even wait 10-15 minutes before I even take my first photo!

mother with son and daughter on Townsend park murrysville with fall foliage for a mini session


Now, of course, a mini session has its place and it’s a wonderful alternative if you are on a tighter budget and you want up-to-date and affordable photos of your family and children. You may also consider alternating full-length sessions with mini sessions every other year or so or even doing one of each every year!

I know many families that do this. They schedule a full-length session with me in the spring or summer but they may do a Santa or other Christmas mini session later in the year with a different photographer. I think that is a wonderful idea.

mom and her little girl on porch of pittsburgh home


You may have noticed by now that I’m not a huge fan of shooting mini sessions. I’ve done many of them in the past but have since decided they were not the right fit for me and my style of photography.

However, there is a (small) chance I will do them again sometime in the future…


Otherwise, if you think a full-length family session may be the best decision for your family, then I am the photographer for you!


If I should change my mind and schedule mini sessions, get on my email list to be one of the first to know about it! I’ll send an email before I share on social media. You can sign up here!


I hope that this post was able to help you decide if a mini photoshoot vs a full-length family photo session is best for your family.

Go check out my family galleries and learn more about family photo sessions.


Have any questions or concerns?  
Please get in touch to ask me anything or to book a family photo session!


Are you on Instagram?
Let’s connect over there!


~All images by Mary Beth Miller Photography ~

Mary Beth Miller Photography specializes in lifestyle and documentary family & newborn photography in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and many of the surrounding areas.  Her style is very relaxed and natural and your family session will feel like a stress-free Sunday afternoon with your family!

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

NEWBORN & FAMILY
PHOTOGRAPHER
in Pittsburgh

Also SERVING POLAND, CANFIELD, BOARDMAN and Youngstown OHIO

Also SERVING POLAND, CANFIELD, BOARDMAN and the Youngstown, OHIo areas