Matt & Kia discuss high school senior model programs on this episode of the podcast. They compare the way they each do their programs and how they’ve changed the programs over the years. Seniors are busy these days and want to be part of something fun. Kia talks about making it as easy and simple and as stress-free as possible. Kia shoots with a wider lens for her fun mini sessions so the seniors have a different look than their senior pictures. Make sure to listen in to hear the fresh ideas discussed.
Transcription was done by Temi.com which means it’s an AI generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.
Matt: [00:01] Hey everybody, this is Matt and Kaia and you’re listening to from nothing to profit.
Speaker 2: [00:06] Welcome to from nothing to profit a photographer’s podcast with Matt and Kayak where each week they talk to photographers about what is working in their business now so you can swipe those ideas and grow your business faster.
Matt: [00:22] Hey everybody, welcome to the podcast. So kinda here’s the deal. Okay. I want to ask you some questions and I mean at first I just thought this would be a really good episode for our audience and then I realized that actually a really good episode for me. So in terms of high school, senior model programs, we’ve been doing one for a long time. We’d been doing work for like eight years and I’m, I don’t, I feel like it’s unsuccessful, but here’s the catch. I actually know when I look at my numbers, it’s not unsuccessful. I think I’m just really bored with it. And so I don’t really know what I just want, just like, I don’t know if I even want fresh ideas, but just I kind of want to go through some do’s and don’ts and just to see if I’m actually still doing like what I’m supposed to be doing and I just think it’d be good for our audience to hear us have this conversation. A little bit about model programs.
Kia: [01:09] Okay. So let me ask you a couple questions about yours. Like when you say you’re bored, are you bored? Like you’re like, ah, I don’t want to have to promote it. I feel like I’m saying things that are kind of uninteresting. Like your you board from the promotion side or from the photography side or what? What are you worried about?
Matt: [01:27] I think a little bit of both. Like I just, I’m just like kind of tired of the grind of like launching the model program for another year. And then on top of that I also like, I’m just like, are they even into this? And I just, I, it’s hard for me to realize like, am I not into this? Are they not into this? And I know what I mean, they have been talking about high school kids but they seem to be booking. So I guess they are into it.
Kia: [01:51] So have you started launching it? Yeah. And we’ve got a couple, we’ve got a couple of kids to sign up. Yeah. Okay, great. And so how do you do it? Do you do a, like an application and then you choose from that? Or do you like say you know, send specific invites or,
Matt: [02:06] well yeah, so what we do is we get a list of names from our previous models and seniors and then we send an Instagram DM to them and invite them. And then yeah, they go to our website and they fill out just a, just basically name information, just their contact information. And then they schedule a meeting to sit down with us. And we do individual meetings now. We used to do a group meeting, but we, we’ve, we’ve moved to individual meetings a couple of years ago and then we basically just tell them and their parent about, about the program and I guess kind of hope that they sign up and see like I can just hear myself being bored in this whole
Kia: [02:41] process, like as I’m describing. Do any like what part of it do you do?
Matt: [02:46] Do I personally do?
Kia: [02:47] Yeah. Like do you, do you sit in the meetings, do you
Matt: [02:49] no, so I do, I do like the promotion of it, rebuilding the program every year to see if we need to tweak it and stuff like that and then do the promotion side of it. And then Allison does the meetings with them and yeah. So that’s that.
Kia: [03:01] And then, uh, I know I’m asking a lot of questions. It’s kind of funny. That’s kind of probably not what you were thinking, but it helps to see, because I feel like you could do the model program a hundred different ways.
Matt: [03:12] Right. So I can definitely tell people a little bit about my model program and then you can tell them about yours and then we can kind of compare notes.
Kia: [03:20] Yeah. Yes. Because so well, or I can just ask, I guess, how about this, I’ll answer the questions that I ask too because I had like a list in my head. So is the model program the main way that you book high school seniors?
Matt: [03:33] Uh, I would say yeah, it’s the majority of them. I mean we book probably, I mean half probably half our, our models half are not our models. They come in later but everybody knows about it. And the, the second half of kids that don’t, our models that like just book regular senior sessions, they tend to be, you know, just like over subscribed, you’re busy. So they just don’t have time to commit to it during the summer. And so they’d just like, I’ll just do my senior pictures with you. Yes, maybe they were like, they, they’re like on a club travel team or something like that.
Kia: [04:02] Okay. So I have been in the business for 25 years and for probably the first 15, well probably 12 years, let’s see. No, probably the first, I don’t know, the first 12 years probably we did not do a model program at all. We sent out advertisements, you know, so we sent out catalogs and postcards and three days sales and we would book our whole summer on advertisement. So we never did a model program and then we started doing one because I thought it would be kind of fun to try it. Um, but it was definitely a small portion of our actual high school seniors did it. But now that I’m transitioned into my new studio, the model program is really the basis of my senior portraits. So it’s at least half if not more. Right.
Matt: [04:47] My husband was saying here, I would say the same thing. We see the same thing.
Kia: [04:51] Yeah. So then what do like what do your models get for being models?
Matt: [04:56] Yeah, so they get like some group shoots during the summer. I’m going to generalize cause we actually have like three levels and they get different stuff. But they basically get group, like the at the beginning level is they get droop shoots and then their senior session. Okay. The middle one I think I have to remember how this works. The middle level we add a custom shoots so they basically get like two senior sessions so they can do two different looks. Would you miss a lot with our sports kids and like if they’re into horses or something like that where we, it’s really for us to kind of break up the session into two because two completely different looks and then the very top level they get their senior session group shoots and then they also get like a destination session. So we typically go to Moab, which is about a three hour drive from us and the sand dunes, which is about three hour drive from us and we do like on location kind of destination stuff.
Kia: [05:53] That’s fun. Are those broken, like do they break down pretty or do most of them just do the beginning one or
Matt: [06:01] last year? Like normally we do. We have a lot in the middle and it was kind of like fades off both sides. But then last year we, we had a lot of, a lot of just the entry level.
Kia: [06:13] Okay. One, you know, I, one of the big things that I’ve noticed is that kids are busy and I think that’s hard. So our program has traditionally been based on doing fashion shoots with local boutiques. Yeah. And then being in a fashion show. Okay. So this is the first year that we have, are not doing the fashion show. Uh, my second daughter is a junior this year and she did the fashion show last year and she said she didn’t care if she did it this year. And I think a lot of the girls don’t really want to have to do it. It’s kind of, it’s, it’s just not as big of a draw. So we’ve dropped that and we are just going to be doing fashion shoots with local boutiques.
Matt: [06:58] Okay. And that was about like, like they just get that in addition to their senior session.
Kia: [07:01] Yeah. So, so when you call them group shoots, that’s what they are as the fat. So it was just more of a fashion edge to it.
Matt: [07:07] Yeah. And ours is more like stylized, like we have kind of themes to each one.
Kia: [07:11] Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it, what is interesting is I just sat down with the girl. We also used to do group meetings and now we do individual meetings. Uh, because uh, mainly because our individual meetings, we want them to be more about planning their senior portraits. Yes. Yeah. Not necessarily as much about the program, but I sat down with a girl last night who had been painted to, you know, had watched everything, knew about it all, had been paying attention to our social media and was ready to do it. And she didn’t really, she didn’t really know what it was. She just it to be one. And so I think we’ve been doing it the way, like the way we’ve been doing it with our Instagram, it’s called style music magazine for the last maybe four years, I think for probably four years this way.
Kia: [07:58] And I just think that it’s just starting to build more and more the social media and the cache of being apart. So this year has been, is by far going to be our most successful year with it already. We are probably like, you know, we’re mid February right now and we’re probably where we were last year at the end of May. Okay. And so were are just your booking rate is so far up there and it’s just, I think it’s because we’ve, uh, our social media has just been really, really fun. Uh, we’ve been just doing a lot of fun things. I know that sounds funny, but I’m just really fun and really happy and that’s the track that attracts people for sure. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s just mine.
Matt: [08:45] What do you think, like what do you think they were most of the high school seniors are most excited about to be a part of it? Like is there one particular thing that they’re like pumped about?
Kia: [08:55] Yes. So
Matt: [08:57] we, last year during my senior sessions and mainly those sessions were my style muse models. I did a food theme, a happy food theme. And so we did, uh, the, the paper backgrounds, all the different colored paper backgrounds, and then I would brought in food, so cupcakes and pineapples and a coke cans and, uh, lacroix cans and did everyone donuts. I, so I photographed every girl with some sort of food doing like cute, like kissy faces and winky eyes and surprise faces and that type of thing. And I think that like super commercial look has, um, been really attractive to these girls. Okay. That’s good. That’s good to know. Yeah. Yeah, it’s been, it’s just bright, fun commercial and sort of looks like it could be in a magazine. Totally.
Kia: [09:56] Yeah. And it was just something that I wanted to do, you know, I was like, I want to try this. And I, and what’s really funny is they created so many fights and a Abra who works with in the orders would say, oh my goodness, these er, these pictures are driving me crazy because the girls want them really the bad. And the moms are like, I’m not buying a picture of you drinking a lacroix. And so, um, so yeah, they just made our social media look really fun.
Matt: [10:24] Yeah. So maybe I need to like do an audit of my social media and make sure like that. Yeah, we’re doing that. Cause I mean that’s really easy to do. That’s just a mind shift, you know?
Kia: [10:34] Yes. Yeah. Because I think that that moody, like the Darker Moody Look is trendy. I just don’t know if it’s attractive to the high school scene,
Matt: [10:44] especially when you’re asking me to be part of a program. They want to be a part of something fun. They don’t want necessarily want to be a part of something dark, you know? Yes. It’s probably very subconscious to them, but that’s probably a reality.
Kia: [10:56] Yeah. So the other thing we did that we changed this year is, uh, we made our buyin cheaper just because, uh, we, we knew we wanted to up the volume, you know, number of sessions.
Matt: [11:09] So we’re doing, this year we did a little bit of a drop to
Kia: [11:12] [inaudible] just because once they see the pictures, they love them and then we’ll order them. So getting them in the door. And then one other thing we did is we, like I said, we took out the fashion show and we’re, our goal with it is just to make it as simple and easy and stress free as possible for them because they’re just so busy. And so, uh, so yeah, so that we’re just sort of like, you don’t have to go to anything except for, we’ll make sure you get to one fashion shoot. We will make sure that happens for you.
Matt: [11:42] Right. So talk a little bit about buy-ins. I’ll just explain how we do it. So we have the three different levels and we did something a little bit different this year with our price drop and I’ll explain in a second. But basically what they’re doing is they’re just basically putting a deposit down for their senior session. Is that what they’re doing for you guys as well or,
Kia: [12:03] yeah, it just pays for, there are entry level session fee.
Matt: [12:06] Okay. So what we did is we, we were going to lower our price to get more people in this year because we had been raising it over the last like three or four years. And we’re starting to get to a number that it was like, well we probably should have a few more people in this. And so what we actually did is we actually dropped our price for them to be a part of it with a deadline. So like if they book in February, they get it at the cheaper price. But if they get, if they book after that then they have to pay them what everybody paid last year. So I think is good because then we actually have some deadlines cause one of the things that we’ve always struggled with in the past, it’s like when we’re not well we don’t have reasons for them to buck.
Matt: [12:47] They just, they can take like three weeks to book somebody in a sense because they’re thinking about it and then they go to do all their sports and their stuff and we just fall off the radar because they’re just trying to do, accomplish everything in life. So we’re like okay we just need some hard deadlines for them to do that. So, so our, our, our pro to get in with what the discount, they can either get into for 500, seven 50 or $1,000. So then af after February it’ll be seven 50, 1,012 50 is what it will be. Okay.
Kia: [13:22] And they pay that at the time.
Matt: [13:23] They pay that at the time and then they’re done. That money goes towards their senior order. Okay. So they basically get their session for free. We went to her session free.
Kia: [13:35] Uh Huh. Yeah. That’s great. Yeah. Ours is $100. Okay.
Matt: [13:39] No. Yeah. And so, yeah, no, there’s not a wrong or right way to do that. Yeah.
Kia: [13:42] Yeah. It makes it simple. Yeah. Yeah. So what we’re doing too, it’s not necessarily to create the urgency, but it is creating the urgency is our different fashion shoots are going to all have. Um, like you said, you do yours themed and I was hoping to make them all, uh, launch related to this year because that’s my word of the year. So, uh, like maybe a hot air balloon for one, you know, walking with a big bunch of balloons in the city for another. So just those type of themes. And so, uh, we’ve been telling the girls about our plans. We don’t have them scheduled yet. Um, but we are telling them that we are letting them sign up in order. So the first people to sign up for the program or the F get first dibs on which fashion shoot they do. Okay.
Matt: [14:32] Do they just do one or can they do more than one?
Kia: [14:34] Well, they do one of the boutique fashion shoots. Okay. And so, um, so they get to choose. So the sooner they sign up, then the sooner they will be able to choose which fashion shoot that they want to do. And so that has been a really great way to, you know, I mean it’s, it’s, it has created urgency. It wasn’t specifically designed for that. Um, but then another thing we just did is, because it’s been, we were just talking before we started the podcast. It’s been a really cold, really a wintery winter here in Kansas. And I was getting tired of not shooting, uh, because I just didn’t have stuff that I could do. Typically. I’m, we’re doing the fashion shoots already, but we just could not get outside and yeah, I want the fashion shoots this year to be outdoors type things. And so, uh, we decided to do these little mini sessions because we used to, when we would have our group meetings, we would also do like a little, we would call it a, um, like an interview shoot.
Kia: [15:34] And we would do something themed according like one year it was like tropical themed and we would do like a little tropical shoot, but a lot of times the girls weren’t ready and they didn’t know if they were signing up yet. When I took the pictures, they would just decide later. And so, uh, then last year we, we switched from doing the shoot at the initial meeting and we had a big party on Cinco de Mayo, which was really fun. And that was kind of our, you know, sign up and you can come to the party. And we photographed them there. But this year we uh, with felt like that was too many things for them to have to go to a, because of the, the boutique shoots in the fashion show, we just wanted to simplify it. So we did away with the party and then like I said, we just added in these little mini shoots and so we did a Valentine’s mini session with whatever girls could...