Special Series: How to Build a Photography Client Base with Seasonal Promos [Step 2/5]

How To Choose A Promo Session Type Clients Will Love

After running dozens of photography promotions, we have come to realize the importance of choosing the right type of session to promote. Selecting the right session type for your ideal client is a determining factor in the number of new clients and revenue your promotion may bring in.

-Scott Sylvia
Founder, Hobby to Pro Photo

In the last post (Part 1), you determined your target client and what holiday you will be basing your promo around. Now it’s time for part 2 of the promo planning process; how to choose the format for your session.

We’re going to take a look at three options for session types:

  1. A theme session tied to or based on the holiday itself
  2. A regular full length session (studio or Outdoor)
  3. A mini session (studio or outdoor) (Same as #2 but with a reduced session time)

Let’s jump right in and look at the three choices in more detail!

Option #1: The Theme Session

Themed mini-sessions are a great way to bring in a large number of new clients within a short period of time. However, the downside of a themed session is that you may struggle to sell larger portraits to these clients on the backend.

The themed portrait special is a session where you create a “scene” for your portraits. For example, you may run a Valentine’s special where you photograph babies with hearts and angel wings, or a Christmas special where you photograph the family on a tree farm.

As you can probably imagine, theme sessions work better with some holidays than others. We mentioned in the last post that it’s a good idea to choose some odd holidays to form your promotions around, like Groundhogs day or Presidents Day…

But you probably won’t have too many takers for portraits of kids dressed as groundhogs or Abe Lincoln! 😉

One thing I want to note is that running a themed promotion does not mean you have to go crazy with props and scenery. There are a few levels of “themeiness” you can choose from.

Levels of Themeiness

I not sure “themeiness” is a real word, but let’s look at how elaborate the theme is in relation to the prices charged.

In my experience, a lot of clients really enjoy quick little theme sessions and find a lot of fun in booking them. However, most clients will not invest a great deal of money into themed portraits in comparison to a more classic portrait.

For example, if you are offering a Valentine session with a cloud set and putting little wings on the kids (I’m not making this up, we did this many years ago!), people may want a few small prints at reasonable prices. However, the vast majority aren’t going to purchase a 30x40” wall portrait of their daughter in angel wings to hang over the living room couch.

Super-themey portraits are more of a novelty and an experience than anything. My usual rule of thumb is the more props involved, the less I can charge. You will most likely want to offer special packages or prices on this little theme sessions.

That being said, it is not bad to offer fun little specials that bring new clients in your door. If they enjoy their time with you, they may very well come back to you for more portraits in the future. Just don’t expect to make a fortune upfront off of this type of promotion.

Pro Tip: There are always exceptions to the rule of the low-cost theme sessions. If you want to take this to another level art artistically (maybe using Painter and making this an Art piece,) then you can possibly charge the same or even more for this than your regular work. This however is getting into an area that I refer to as “Limited Edition” portraits, and is a more advanced strategy.

Option #2: A Regular Session at a Great Price

As the title suggest, with this type of promotion you are simply offering one of your regular, full-length sessions at a special session fee tied to the promotion. This gives potential clients a chance to experience your magic at a lower rate, whether it be for a studio session or an outdoor session.

Another option is to charge your regular price for the session fee, and offer special priced print collections for the promotion.

This may mean more work for you in the sense that each client may want something different from the previous client, rather than having all clients be photographed on one themed set like discussed above. The good news is you can charge your regular prices or close to them.

The beauty of this type of session is that you have the opportunity to bring in new clients and make a large amount on portrait sales, since these will be your more classic style portraits.

Pro Tip: You don’t want to offer discounts on your regular sessions all the time or you will train your clients to wait for a sale. However, it doesn’t hurt to do this occasionally under the banner of the holiday that you are promoting. Also, people will understand when it is an “off season” promotion. Think of it as paying less to visit Florida in July rather than December.

Option #3: The Mini Session

The mini session is a chance for people to try you out in a reduced format. They are your regular sessions (studio or outdoor), but in shortened time-slots that allow you to photograph more clients in a short period of time.

If your studio session is normally an hour with three outfit changes, perhaps for your seasonal promotion you offer a 30-minute session with one outfit change.

The benefit to this type of promo is that even though you are charging less, you are putting in less work per session. This makes it possible for you to do two 30-minute sessions in the span of what usually would be one session. Even with charging a little less, you can still bring in the same amount or more for the same amount of time…winning!

Like Option #2 above, since these are more classic style portraits, your clients are more likely to spend more with you. Just keep in mind since the session was short, they will have less images to choose from which may limit their spending.

Which session types makes most sense for your selected holidays?

It's your turn!

Here's our challenge to you:

Open up your notes from yesterday's post. You may have already chosen a holiday for each season of the upcoming year.

For each, select the session type that makes most sense. Let us know your ideas in the comments below!

Don't forget to take the holiday or time of year into consideration. For example, in New England where I’m located, it is not practical to offer outdoor sessions (which are my favorite) between January and March (it’s just too cold and the trees are all bare), so a regular studio promotion makes a lot of sense.

Other times, holidays like Easter are just perfect for theme sessions for children, whether it be Easter themed or more seasonally-themed like portraits in a field of flowers. The kids and parents love it!

The last thing to consider is your personal desire!

Is there a type of session you want to add to your portfolio or want some additional practice on to perfect your skills? Build your special around that area when you can. If you want to do more beach portraits, get out there and promote your “July 4th Beach Spectacular!”

Take it to the next level!

One final thought for you for today. 🙂

Be sure to keep an eye on your inbox for part 3 of 5 of the process, coming your way tomorrow! This has been really fun for us so far, I hope it has been for you as well!

You have been following along and taking the time to plan out your promos, which is truly commendable! You may just be the right fit for our in-depth program, as well.

It’s called the Seasonal Promos Made Easy Kit, and it’s a pre-created promotional toolkit that you can use straight out of the box!

We are releasing one of these Seasonal Promos per season so that you can literally download the toolbox, open up the marketing material templates (created by professional graphic designers!) customize them for your own business, and launch a successful promotion within just minutes.

This is going to save you hours upon hours and a whole lot of stress that goes into crafting a photography promotion - this way, you can spend more time on what you love - the photography! Click here if you’d like to learn more.

Until tomorrow,


Let Us Know - What's Your Seasonal Promo Idea?