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The Evolution Of A Model Crew

Model Crews, Ambassadors, Senior Models, fill in the blanks.  We all have different names for the groups of seniors representing our business.  They are the buzz word in the industry.  This is the one area that always comes up in conversations with other senior photographers.  There is a struggle over how to run a successful program.  The right way, the wrong way, it can be so confusing…but is it the only way?

Since the Class of 2012 I have had a model crew.  And each year we have added something of value to the crew.  Starting with the Class of 2013, I had a five year plan of what would be added each year.  It works.  The Seniors love it.  All is well right?

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Well maybe…

One thing I did not plan for was for my Model Crew to add something to my existing business plan!  How does that even happen?  Let me back up a few years and it will all be crystal clear…

In October of 2014, I put a call out for my Senior Model Crew for the Class of 2015.  All was going according to plan.  Parents were calling and setting up interview times for their teens.  Then I got a text from a parent whose daughter wanted to interview-great tell me what school you are representing and let me just verify you are a Class of 2015 ?  Do you see the flaw in that last question to the parent?  Nope I didn’t either.  The parent responded with “my daughter is in the 8th. grade and would like to be on Model Crew for Teen Spirit.”  Well alrighty then, that is a new one.  We don’t do that.  Wait…was I just telling a parent NO?  We don’t do that either!

So I agreed to meet her daughter whom I fell in love with on the spot.  Not to mention the parents are AWESOME!  I decided in the that moment I would add three Teen Spirit girls to Model Crew.  The problem was you have to pay to be a Model Crew member.  Everyone was willing to take a chance.  It was a leap of faith incorporating the younger teens with my soon to be seniors.  But the outcome was better than I could have hoped for.  The older teens embraced the younger ones and helped them have an unforgettable experience just like theirs.

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And that 8th grade girl?  Well she outperformed my Senior Model Crew kids by the end of the term.  And when it was time for the Class of 2016 Model Crew interviews I knew I would be adding more Teen Spirit kids to the lineup.  So in 2016 we had 8 Teen Spirit kids on Model Crew.  And again one of our Teen Spirit kids out performed the Seniors.  Yes, you guessed who it was!  That 8th grade girl who was now in high school!  Do all teens perform that well?  Unfortunately, no just like all seniors do not perform as well.  However, I was learning a valuable lesson along the way (in addition to suddenly booking 8th grade girls and freshman girls more frequently)…it is about the experience and they will talk about the experience far more often than an older teen.  All of the teens stay in model crew each year and this creates an even tighter bond.  They are like brothers and sisters…they tease, they playfully fight, they bond.

Great so how does this really benefit my business you ask?  If they are talking on social media often, upperclassmen and fellow teens and tweens are taking notice.  Social media blurs the lines of classes in high school.  People don’t care what grade you are in, they will still interact with you.  The trend we have noticed is this…teens will talk about you constantly.  They don’t care who they talk to.  They are excited!

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Now the new task was to harness that and use it to our advantage.  Since that conversation in 2014, my model crew has molded into this entity that really is unique to all the other photographers in my area.  The teens grow up in model crew and in front of my lens.  My connections to my kids two modeling agency’s has also bled over into model crew with 5 teens in the last two years being signed with 2 year modeling contracts.

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When I started my Teen Spirit line over 4 years ago it was new.  No one was doing this in my area.  It was shortsighted to really think I would never incorporate them into my model crew.  But this is how we grow our businesses.  I had a five year plan in place, I wanted my business to evolve and that meant my plan had to evolve.  It is really like a big puzzle and the pieces just come together.  Little did I know I was slowly prying open Pandora’s Box.

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Fast forward to October of this year and my Model Crew has taken another new turn.  I have more teens and tweens than Seniors.  Yes I just typed that…My teens and tweens outnumber my SENIORS.  WHAT?  Ok this might be considered madness but as I was watching it unfold before my eyes during Model Crew interviews, I realized I need to just roll with this.  See what happens.  These teens are my future seniors.  Plus I have a really good feeling about this.  So much so I am willing to bank a year’s worth of Model Crew on it!  Here is the breakdown of Model Crew 2017:

Class of 2021-2

Class of 2020-2

Class of 2019-7

Class of 2018-4

Class of 2017-6

Number of schools represented:  11

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Sheer Madness?

I know there are several out there who will believe this is so crazy and that I may have just sunk my business or set it back. But I believe this is the future.  The next wave in this industry.  The beginning of something amazing.

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Want to meet the teens who make up our model crew?  Check them out on my blog HERE!



Published by Vickie

Senior portrait photographer serving the Central Indiana and surrounding markets.

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