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How to Price for Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are a great way to pull in both new and existing clients, giving them an opportunity to book a lower-priced alternative to a full session. Because they also tend to be themed, they are great for up-selling: you can convince past clients to get that little update which won’t be anything at all similar to their last shots.

But how do you set up the pricing for these sessions? Do you base them on your other prices? What if you don’t even have other prices? Here are some things to consider.

Know your hourly worth

The first thing that you have to do before setting the price for any service you offer is figure out your hourly worth.

A lot of us, especially freelancers or small business owners, have a hard time figuring out what to charge because we don’t feel we can possibly be worth very much. Imposter syndrome is real, and when you add that to low-priced studios churning out low quality portraits by the dozen, it’s no wonder we struggle to charge what we’re worth.

How many of us have worked out a good price, looked at it, and thought – no one’s going to pay me that much? I know I’m guilty of it, but it’s the kind of thinking we have to stop.

Here’s how you figure out what your hourly worth is. Start by considering how much money you want to earn per year. You can come up with a reasonable figure by thinking about what you would be paid in an office job if you were in one – are you entry-level with a wage on the lower end of the scale? Are you a more experienced middle manager? How about the CEO who has decades of experience in the industry?

If you’re struggling to work out the annual rate, you can do one of two things: first, decide what you want to earn – as simply as that. Second, you could look up jobs on sites that calculate average salaries and find one that you think would be analogous. Either way, you’ve got to come up with a figure.

Next, decide how many hours you want to work per week. Note that eight hours a day isn’t really reasonable, because as a freelancer you will have lots of unbillable hours – marketing, replying to emails, maintaining your website, and so on. Take at least a day, if not two, from your schedule to allow for this.

Here’s the formula you want to try now:

[desired annual salary] divided by 52 = [weekly pay]

[weekly pay] divided by [desired working hours] = [hourly rate

If the resulting number looks high to you, suck it up! That’s what you’re worth, and you certainly aren’t going to charge any less.

Figure out the time investment

How much time does a mini session take? Only you can answer this question, because it depends on what you offer and how fast you work.

Calculate the time required to set up the session (which will be almost nothing, if you plan smart and have everything set up all the time with block mini session bookings), the time required to shoot, and the time required to edit and present the images. If you do presentation meetings where you show all of the images to the client, this should be included as well.

Once you have an idea of how much time it takes to cater to each client, times this figure by your hourly rate. But wait – you’re not done yet!


Calculate the expenditure

Next up, you need to know how much money it costs to run each session. Take the following into account:

  • Cost of props
  • Wear and tear on equipment
  • Any rentals you need to take out
  • Salary for anyone employed in your business
  • Bills, mortgage, electric and heating etc for your studio space, if you are using one
  • Advertising budget, for example for Facebook ads
  • Photoshop or other software subscription
  • Anything else you purchase for the sessions, such as Photoshop actions or brushes

Add all of this up, and divide it by the total number of sessions that you intend to sell.

If you don’t think you will fill them all, you can add a bit more on top or reduce the number of sessions you calculate by. But if all goes well and you do sell out, then this figure will be a reasonable idea of what each session costs in real terms.

Set your prices

Add your expenditure per session to your hourly rate, which has already been calculated for the full session length. Presto! You have your suggested session price.

There’s one more twist in this tale, however: it’s often better to set a price which looks more appealing than to just go with whatever figure you came up with. A number ending in 9 or 7 is often best, as it makes the customer think that they are getting a better deal.

For example, if your session cost just worked out to $223, then you might want to round that up to $227 or $229. It’s a little bit extra in your pocket and looks much nicer. Whatever you do, though, don’t round down – remember that this is what your sessions are worth, and charging less will devalue your work.

In fact, you might want to increase the price substantially – for example, to $249 – if you are intending to do any kind of deals to sell the last spaces. This way you can offer a discount towards the end without actually having to lose money on your sessions.


If you still don’t feel comfortable with the number that you have arrived at, ask yourself why that is. Are you lacking confidence in your work? Would your normal client base not pay that much? If so, then you need to be seeking out a new client base – trust us when we say that you are worth every penny!

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