Mini Photoshoot Guide: 5 Ways to Prep for your Mini Session

April 7, 2022

For Clients

Okay you’ve heard the word “mini session” thrown around quite a bit, but what does that actually mean for a photographer and client?

Simply, a mini session is a shortened photoshoot where clients receive a limited amount of photos usually for a reduced cost compared to a full session. Every photographer handles mini sessions a little differently, but for me – I will book out a weekend around fall + spring in a single location and book 10-15 photoshoots for about 10-30 minutes each. So that means, for 2-3 hours, I have back-to-back clients ready to have their photo taken! I love to offer these sessions to my previous clients first to get some updated photos between their regular sessions.  

Since we are working in a short time frame, I want to make sure that we do everything we can ahead of time to prepare for your session. That way you can show up, smile, and be on your way! Here are five tips to help make your mini session fun, easy and stress-free experience:

5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography
5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography

1. Arrive 5 Minutes Early

It’s important that we maximize our limited time together – that’s why planning to arrive five minutes ahead of time is crucial to a successful mini. Being five minutes early allows you to prep your kids, get outfits in check and also just have a moment to relax before you hop in front of the camera.

I know life can be crazy, traffic exists and tantrums happen, but please do everything you can to be early. Take into consideration parking and how far it might be from the location, how long it might take to find your photographer or how long it takes your kids to warm up to a new person. 

I promise that being on time enables you to not stress and allows you to really focus on having a good experience with your photographer, family and partner. 

2. Plan outfits ahead of time

Sometimes during my full session, couples and families will bring their outfits with them and ask me which would look best. With mini sessions, we don’t have time to pick outfits together, so I encourage you to show up fully dressed with the outfit you planned. 

Here are few quick tips on picking your outfits: 

  1. Coordinate your outfits: Gone are the days of being overly matching with family photos or couples. Instead you want your outfits to compliment each other. The best way to do this is, pick out one person’s outfit first then build other members of the families around that. 
  2. Stand out from your background: If your session is somewhere in nature with tons of greens – you’ll want to skip green clothing to help you separate yourself from the environment. Same with the beach, if your background is blues and greens, wear something that would compliment that like whites or pastels to help separate yourself from the backdrop.
  3. Solids are your friends: When in doubt, solid colors are always flattering on camera. If you have a large group, to add variety you can wear some patterns, but keep patterns to a minimal in more neutral. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to dress it up! Look, photos are not an everyday thing. Do little things to help elevate your photos, maybe it’s doing your makeup differently or grabbing the dress you love. You’ll never kick yourself for being too dressed up. 
  5. Accessories + Layers: These two things are the easiest way to bring variety to your outfit. Got a hat, perfect. Love a chunky sweater, bring it. These are simple way to make changes without a full outfit change. 

I know this is a lot of details! If you’re a visual learner like I am, please enjoy this Pinterest board with examples of great outfits for families and couples. 

5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography
5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography
5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography

3. Have some kid-proof tricks up your sleeve

Since we are working against the clock here – I encourage bribing with your littles. Is that bad? Probably, but if you have a high-reward toy/treat that you know will capture the attention of your kids – bring it! I’ve had a lot of parents resort to a snack to help bribe little ones into focusing. 

Now, I know that not every photo will be the smile you are looking for – but sometimes a bribe also helps them open up a little to be more playful with you in front of the camera.

4. Bring backups for the babies

I say for the babies, but honestly – this a rule that can be applied to any human being who is prone to spills. Please bring a backup outfit for your little ones, as blowouts, accidents, spills can happen. While I can edit out most things, it’s a lot easier when I don’t have to!

As a good rule of thumb, I recommend bringing a full backup outfit for kids under the age of two. For anyone over that age, bring a sweater or a different shirt that can be changed or layered if spills happen.

5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography
5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography
5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography

5. Don’t forget to relax!

Before you even walk to the location – take a big breath! 

You did your job, you prepared the kids, you planned the outfits, and you booked the photographer. Leave the rest up to me. I am excited to meet you and help pose your family in ways that are natural. Don’t worry if your kids aren’t warmed up to me – or that maybe they are having an off day, I promise you aren’t the only family who has these concerns. 

My job is to make you feel comfortable, so you can be confident in front of the camera and we can get some great photos for you to enjoy. 

5 ways to prepare for your mini photoshoot | Shannon Alyse Photography

Vendor Recommendations

Sometimes I get clients who want to do something a little extra to make photos an even more special experience. Here are some local vendors who I love to work with to help elevate any photoshoot. Booking with them is not a requirement! So, if you’re looking for hair and makeup or even a florist – here are few of my favorites:


Crescent Mane Hair Studio

Moderne Beauty


Kim Baker Beauty

Florence Wong Makeup

Faces by Emily 


Brittany Olsen Styling


Kats Flower Affair


After the Session

Alright, you’ve got all my tips to help you prepare for your mini session. Post-photoshoot, I’ll send 2-3 preview photos for you to enjoy that will be included in your overall gallery. Your full mini session will be delivered in about 2-3 weeks! Once delivered, those images will be available for you to download, share or print as you please. 

I can’t wait to see you in person.

Missed my current mini sessions? No worries – I try to plan them twice a year. Join my Newsletter today to get early access to my minis. Get in contact with me today and see when my next availability is!

Hey, I'm Shannon

I'm a lifetime photographer that documents your milestones - from weddings to motherhood & all the moments in-between.

I'm based in Pleasanton, California where I live with my husband, our pup and way too many house plants.