Should you book a Full Session or a MINI Session?

I get this question so many times, especially during the Fall Season when families are usually interested in booking family photos. I thought I would take some time to outline the pros and cons to each and hopefully help you decide on which type of session may be best for your family. While some years you may find a mini to be the best fit, other years a full session may be what is best for your family.

I always offer a limited number of both FULL and MINI Sessions in the Fall, so regardless of the type of session you want, I always encourage clients to book sooner rather than later. It also gives us plenty of time to plan outfits and locations for Full Sessions!

A mother holds her newborn baby while looking down at her toddler during a golden hour session in Charlottesville.
A close up image of a mother holding her toddler's little hands.


*Price point anywhere from $250-$350

*Image count 8-12 images

*Time Frame: 15-25 minutes


*Price point anywhere from $475-775

*Image count ranges from 15 images - All Images

*Time Frame: 60-90 minutes

* Allows for outfit change and more moving around to variety of locations

A golden hour Charlottesville family photoshoot.  A mother holds her son and daughter in a tall grassy field.
A family of three walk into a grassy field with the sunset shining behind them during their fall family shoot in Cville.
A son goes nose to nose with his mother with the sun shining behind them.

Pros & Cons of a MINI

*Short Sessions! Mini session never go beyond 25 min and most of the time my minis are 15-20 minutes. Kids can be unpredictable and many parents aren't always certain their kids will be able to handle longer session. You know your family and where to set your expectations, so if you feel that your kids may have a short attention span, a mini may be best for you. The downside to minis is that they are scheduled back to back, therefore, if a family is late to their session or kiddos aren't happy/cooperative, we cannot go later to make up that time.

* Price Point! For families who are looking for a more budget friendly session, a mini may be just what you're looking for.

*Small Gallery of Updated Family Photos! Some families simply want Christmas Card photos and a few updated images of their families each year. Full Sessions allow for more time to capture real candid and sweet moments which will ultimately lend to a more diverse gallery for clients.

* Location, Time, & Date Determined By Photographer! Mini sessions do not allow for full control over a session. They are usually booked back to back for multiple families at a set location, on a set day, and a chosen time slot. This can take the guesswork out of the equation for families, but some families have particular locations that they would like and dates that work better for their schedules.

A family snuggle in the mountains of Virginia with fall foliage surrounding them.
A family walks hand in hand during the fall in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Three siblings snuggle on their mother's lap during their Charlottesville Family photos.
A mom and three children stand in the Shenandoah Mountains during the fall for their family photos.

Pros & Cons of a FULL Session

*You Get To Choose! Full sessions allow the client to have more control over the session specifics. You are able to choose a date that works best for your family while a mini session will have predetermined dates. You have the choice of 3 different packages to suit your budget and needs. Full sessions also allow you to choose a particular location you are interested in. Whether that is your home, a special place to your family, or an epic Shenandoah Mountain View and a little adventure, you get to choose.

* More Images! There are 3 packages to choose from, which each have a different image count to suit your needs. You can choose from 15, 30, or ALL the images. Most galleries that I deliver range from 80-120 images to choose from. If you are hoping to make an album, then I like having lots of images to fill it with!

*Gallery Variety My mini sessions most likely have one background type, but in a Full Session we have more time to move around and get more variety within a chosen location. I am able to spend more time with your kids and family finding the sweet moments and capturing the big and small details during our hour together. It also allows me more time for creativity and working with different types of lighting scenarios to provide more diversity to your gallery (think golden hour, direct light, blue hour, etc).

*Give the Kids Time to Warm Up & Explore! While some families think their kids can only last 20 min (believe me I get it! I have kids and have felt the same way), in a full session we aren't rushed like a mini session. We spend time talking with the kids, making jokes, and using the time walking to our location to allow them to warm up. This can be especially beneficial for shy kids. Full sessions are less posed and directed and give kids the time and space to move around, explore, pick flowers for the mamas, swing in the air with a parent, play games to keep them engaged and happy, and the list goes on. If you crave those real, raw, and candid moments, a full session may be more enjoyable and desirable for your family.

* Investment! I know the price point can be sticker shock to some. And the fact is, it is not in everyone's budget, and I completely get that and have been there myself. All sessions whether a mini or full session are an investment of money, time, energy, and heart. I try to make sure my full sessions are giving you that extra added value to make it worth your overall investment and providing you with exactly what you are expecting.

Fall family photoshoot in Charlottesville.  A family with three young boys play in a tall golden field at golden hour.
Fall family photos in Charlottesville.  A family plays in a golden field with fall foliage surrounding them.
Three boys give each other a hug during their Charlottesville family photos.


I find styling to be such an important piece of any session, and every family wants to look and feel their best. I offer style guides and style boards to all clients who are interested in that added service. Both my MINI and FULL sessions have access to my client closet to allow clients to have the best final results I can offer them.

A baby girl sits on her parent's lap while her parents kiss in the background.
A mom lifts her baby up to kiss her on her chubby baby cheeks during sunset in Charlottesville.
A family snuggle in a golden field during a fall family photoshoot in Charlottesville Virginia.
A mom holds her baby on her chest while watching the sunset.
A mother holds her daughters tiny hands during their fall family photos in Central Virginia.
A father holds his baby while kissing her on her cheeks.
Parents hold their baby girl while walking through a golden field during their Charlottesville fall family photos.
Parents swing their two children together for a kiss during their fall family photoshoot in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A family of four sit in the grass snuggling during golden hour in Charlottesville.
A detail shot of a little boy holding his mother's face during sunset in Charlottesville.
A family play in a golden field during their Fall family photo session in Cville.

I hope these tips help you in determining what session is the right fit for you! Every family is different and has different budgets and needs. No matter which session you decide to choose, I strive to provide 110% to every client and family that decides to book with me. Your memories are precious to me and preserving them through photographs is something I do not take lightly. Sometimes, a photo is all we have to remember those moments and seasons in life.

I would love to work with you this fall! Click the contact link below to contact me if you have interest in booking your Newborn, Family, or Maternity photos!