Mini Sessions: How to Choose a Location

Education, For Photographers


It’s that time of year….fall family mini sessions! If you haven’t already begun your planning, don’t delay any further. 

One of the first big to-do’s (outside of choosing your dates) when it comes to planning for your mini sessions is to choose the location. Are you set on a free location or will it be worth it to you to cut into your profits a little to pay to secure a location? I’ve done both through the years and understand the appeal of both. I get wanting to keep every bit of that hard earned cash, but sometimes, it’s well worth the money to save yourself the stress by locking in a location that you know will be a great one. 

Today I’m sharing five things that I take into consideration when I’m choosing my mini session locations. 

1) Is it easily accessible?

When I’m doing 12 back to back sessions, I need my location to be obvious and convenient for my clients. The last thing I want is for them to be unable to locate me and worst case scenario, to have it eat into their scheduled shooting time. I also need the parking situation to be close to the actual shooting location so they aren’t walking super far to where I am. If I choose a location that doesn’t have a super obvious meeting location or if it is a walk from where they are parked, I like to pay to have an assistant with me to receive them upon arrival and to walk them to me when it’s go-time. 

2) Will I have a variety of backgrounds to use?

I like to choose a location that has at least 2 options for a backdrop to photograph my families, which helps me to create a full gallery of images for the client to choose from and hopefully, upgrade to purchase all of the images. 

3) Does it support the feel of the season? 

For fall mini sessions, I’m not going to shoot in a garden with florals. I’ll save that for spring! If it’s spring, I’m probably not going to choose a location in a tree farm. I really try to choose a location that I can lean into the season that we are in. 

4) Will it be super crowded? 

There’s nothing worse than having random people walking in the background of your mini sessions. I try to choose a location that isn’t super crowded with people and that is a little secluded if possible. I make it a point to avoid the popular photography spots…especially in peak seasons when I know everyone else will be shooting too. 

5) Does it offer nice light over time? 

If I’m not already familiar with the location that I’m thinking about using, I’ll scout it ahead of time to make sure that I will have nice light throughout the period of time that I will be shooting or options for open shade for the earlier sessions when the sun is higher in the sky. Note that you’ll need to scout around the same time of day when your sessions will be taking place and do it on a sunny day, as that is when it will be trickiest to manage changing light over a period of time. 

Do you struggle in choosing your mini sessions locations?

Here’s what I think you should do. 

Create a new note in your phone or open up a fresh google doc and create a “Location Listing”. List sections like “garden”, “rustic”, “open space”, “city”, “indoor”…whatever makes sense for where you are located. From there, go through and brainstorm options for locations for each section (some google searching can go a long way if you need some ideas to get started). Every time you hear about or come across a new location that might work for a future session, add it to that document. I also like to include what the location fee is (if any), as well as any links to blog posts to past sessions I have photographed there for quick access.

Having this working document to refer to (not only for minis, but for any session) has always been super helpful. Rather than having to start from square one and rack my brain every time I need to decide on a location or recommend options to a client, I have this amazing resource to refer to. This is a super easy system that you should implement in your business ASAP.

A few ideas for potential locations to consider/scout for your mini sessions:

  • Neighborhood entrances (or a little pocket park inside)
  • Tree farms
  • Wedding venues
  • Gardens
  • Historic homes
  • Business Parks
  • Public Parks
  • Greenways
  • Family/friend’s property
  • A photography studio you can pay a day rate for

A few weeks ago, I launched and sold out of our 22 available fall mini session spots….within legit MINUTES. I do this every season. I’m not telling you this to brag; only to show you what is possible. Since filling our spots, I have now shifted into helping other photographers to see the same results that we just did. 

If you are a photographer that needs some help with mini sessions, I created a {free!} Mini Session Planner for you.


If there is anything I can do to help you with your mini session program, please reach out. I would love to hear from you and help if I can!

Cheyenne Schultz

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