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7 Tips for Adding Mini Photo Shoots Into Your Photography Business

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7 Tips for Adding Mini Photo Shoots Into Your Photography Business

Mini Photo Shoots: 7 Tips on How to Add These to Your Photography Business

It started off as an idea to break up the late-winter lull. You know what I’m referring to – that January to March period where family shoots are few (because everyone just had their Christmas card photos taken), but it’s too early for wedding season. I wanted to do something special for Valentine’s Day, and soon the idea came to me: a Valentine’s Photo Booth!

Going into it, I saw the Valentine’s Photo Booth as an opportunity to try something new and offer cute photos at an inexpensive price. I didn’t realize what a fantastic marketing event it would turn out to be. I teamed up with a local shop owner who had available space for me to set up a makeshift booth, props and treats. I sent out emails advertising the event, hung up a few posters at coffee shops, and asked my friends to tell their friends. I decided to make it an open event, no appointment necessary, in the hopes that at least a few people would show up that day. As it turned out, I had a steady stream of customers – so many that I never got a chance to eat lunch. It was exciting and exhausting.

The most exciting part happened weeks later when I started receiving emails and phone calls from people who said they heard about me from Valentine’s Photo Booth customers. That’s when I realized the booth had tapped into an important aspect of word-of-mouth marketing: GIVE PEOPLE SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.

mini-shoot on valentine's day

Although business picked up quite a bit as the weather warmed up, I was still thinking of ways that I could get my name out to more people. I decided to do Mother’s Day Mini Photo Shoots, knowing that it might reach new customers and generate more word-of-mouth. This time, unlike the Valentine’s Photo Booth, I scheduled people into 20 minute time slots. I arranged to do the mini-shoots in a local orchard. My advertising focused on the idea that moms are always BEHIND the camera and this was a chance to be in the photos with their kids. The response was overwhelming. I ended up adding an extra day of Mother’s Day Mini-Shoots in order to accommodate all the requests. I met a lot of new people from all over the valley, and have seen an impact on my business that is a direct result of the mini-shoots.

Prior to the Valentine’s Photo Booth and Mother’s Day Mini-Shoots, my clients consisted mostly of friends and acquaintances. However, since those two events, my customer base has broadened exponentially. I am now scheduling two to three months in advance, which I would have never dreamed of a year ago.

Tips for doing mini-shoots:

  1. Don’t do it often. I recommend no more than two or three events a year.
  2. Do your best to connect with each client, even though it’s a very short session.
  3. Tie the mini-shoots to holidays that will attract your target clients. (In my case, 20-35 year old women with children). This isn’t a necessity, but I think it was a key to my success.
  4. Remember that your goal is to generate more word-of-mouth, not necessarily to make a lot of money from this specific event. I found that the resulting business more than made up for the low rates I charged at the mini-shoots.
  5. Hire an assistant (or bribe a sweet friend) to help with organizing payment/paperwork and to greet clients as they arrive. It’s very difficult to stay on top of everything while managing consecutive shoots.
  6. Make it very easy for clients to share their photos. I’m specifically referring to online social media. Provide web-sized images (with your watermark or information) and mention that they are welcome to share the photos on their blog, Facebook, etc. This is an effective form of word-of-mouth.
  7. Finally, be original. Be yourself. Clients will come back to you again and again (and refer others) because they like YOU and your photography.

[Amber, of Amber Fischer Photography, is a recovering Elementary teacher who has been doing photography for a couple years out of Boise, Idaho. She calls her Canon 5D “Lucy” and drinks way too much coffee.]

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15 Comments

  1. Michelle
    July 22, 2010 at 10:04 am —

    What an awesome idea. I know personally, I wold LOVE to have a Mother’s Day portrait with my daughter! My question is, what do you do with the shots, besides giving them permission to use them for social media? Do offer prints of the session, or allow them to buy the set for a designated price?

  2. July 22, 2010 at 10:41 am —

    this is a fantastic idea! i really love the mother’s day one

  3. July 22, 2010 at 11:00 am —

    I’d be interested in how you did the “make shift” photo booth, in particular, what was the workflow from shoot to print? I’ve thought of using one of the wifi enabled SD cards with an assistant handling the printing and a third handling the “front” for money/questions.

  4. July 22, 2010 at 11:44 am —

    Love these ideas! Could you offer some suggestions on pricing – what percentage of a typical session fee would you charge and do you package the session fee with a set # or style of prints? Thanks for the suggestions <3

  5. July 22, 2010 at 11:47 am —

    Love the idea! 🙂

    I love the impact on the word-of-mouth, also. Anything you can do to get a “buzz” going.

  6. July 22, 2010 at 12:02 pm —

    I think this is a brilliant idea! I’m with Mike, would love to know how you handle the workflow.

  7. July 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm —

    love your idea..how to tie up with an orchard place? do you offer them something?
    thanks

  8. Debbie
    July 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm —

    Thanks for the wonderful ideas.Can you tell us what you charged for these sessions and if they included any prints in price. Thanks again. Great advice

  9. July 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm —

    I love this idea! Thank you for sharing. Your blog is one of my favorites to read every day!

  10. July 22, 2010 at 10:33 pm —

    Great post! Thank you for the great tips.

  11. July 23, 2010 at 1:39 am —

    For those with questions about the cost/what was included, I found this post on her blog: http://amberfischer.com/blog/?p=193

    Here’s the list of all her posts about the Valentine’s photo booth: http://amberfischer.com/blog/?tag=valentines-photo-booth-2010

    And here’s the posts about the Mother’s Day mini-sessions: http://amberfischer.com/blog/?tag=mothers-day-2010

  12. July 23, 2010 at 1:56 am —

    Thanks for the article. Very inspiring. Great images!

  13. October 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm —

    I’m doing what I’m calling an Open House to try to get others in and get the word out. I’m new and it gives me a chance to add some variety to my portfolio. Thanks for the tips.

  14. December 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm —

    I love doing mini shoots. I set up 1 per month and offer discounts to those who book before the 1st of the year. Check it out…http://wovenbonephotography.wordpress.com/

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7 Tips for Adding Mini Photo Shoots Into Your Photography Business