August 2010 Issue
In this issue:
Photographers Declare War
Check Out Our Web Site
If you are interested in growing your business, take time to go to the Virtual Backgrounds Web site and spend some serious time there learning about Virtual Backgrounds and seeing what other photographers are doing with it to generate dollars. The information you need is all there. Yes, times are tough. In tough times, the tough get going. Virtual Backgrounds can be your very best investment. Find out why. With our really unique finance program, you can get into Virtual Backgrounds for far less than you think.
War is breaking out across America between established legitimate professional photographers and the tens of thousands of newbie shutterbug photographers who call themselves professional and sell their pictures to the public. The newbie shutterbug type photographers, armed with their new digital cameras, have been increasingly raiding the treasury of the established studios. At first the losses didn’t really matter all that much and the established professionals tolerated the newcomers. Now, the newcomer raids are seriously hurting the established studios. Although generally a peaceful bunch, the established studios have decided it is time to strike back hard at the raiders.
It has been learned that a number of the raiders are vulnerable because they were working outside the law. Many of the newbies do not pay state sales tax although some even collect it just to make themselves look more legitimate to their clients and then pocket the extra money. It is suspected that some are not paying state income tax and many may not be paying the IRS either. They think they are small and will fly under the government's radar. In addition, many of the raiders work out of their homes in neighborhoods where zoning regulations strictly prohibit homeowners from engaging in business activity out of their residence. To further tilt the playing field, many of the raiders do not have liability insurance, do not pay workers comp to their helpers, and may pay employees under the table in cash. They are not paying the employees’ social security, withholding tax, workers compensation, state income tax, and so on. Where a local business license is necessary, the raiders often do not register. Cheating in some or all of these ways provides the raiders with a huge monetary advantage, much larger than you may initially think.
The established professionals are finding that they can use the power of the law as their major war tool to severely cripple the raiders, either driving them out of business or causing them to operate within the parameters of the law of the land so as to level the playing field. The established professionals really had no choice but to go this route to fight back, as unsavory as it may initially seem. With all these things considered, the playing field is definitely not level so professionals are striking back! A single bee sting may not be fatal but a hundred or more could be. That’s what we have today with so many people turning to photograpy to make extra bucks. It’s all part of what we have called The Perfect Storm for photographers. Reporting the violators to the government becomes a reasonable line of defense for legitimate business operators, especially in these difficult times. This is exactly what is happening more and more across the country.
There have been reports that that the government tax people are taking aggressive actions by picking up the registration lists for photographers who attend a convention/trade show and then checking them for proper documentation.
It is important that everyone selling photography, whether they are a full time studio or a once in a while weekender, operate on the legal side of the law and adjust their pricing accordingly. Getting caught cheating can result in fines and jail time! Everyone needs to follow the rules or face the consequences!
The photographer can start a marketing program while the equipment is on lay a way and then when the system is received, they can quickly put it into service and begin earning new money that should more than cover the subsequent payments. In some cases, photographers have paid off the balance on their system in just a few months. The purpose of lay away and the special zero interest payment plans is to help photographers be able to put Virtual Backgrounds to use so increase their sales.
Contact a VB consultant for more information.
In cooperation with Pounds Photographic, Virtual Backgrounds tested a new workshop format in August called Innovative Solutions to Generate Dollars. It has added emphasis on marketing to get the customers in front of the camera. If you can’t shoot them, you can’t sell them!
In addition to the normal presenters (Montana Master Photographer Trevon Baker and Photographic Craftsman, Jim Wilson) the new workshop was also led by Henry Oles, VB founder and author of The Professional Photographer’s Perfect Storm and BACKGROUND POWER! Colorado Master Photographer, Rick Avalos also presented. Henry discussed how the Perfect Storm has forever changed the photographic industry and presented a number of suggestions for successfully fighting the storm, not only to survive but also thrive. Rick presented his unique marketing methods that are bringing him both customers and dollars. Unlike most photographers today, Rick’s sales are strong.
The next regular Virtual Backgrounds workshop is scheduled for September 13-15, 2010. The next Innovative Solutions to Generate Dollars workshop is scheduled for October 11-13, 2010. Contact VB for further information.
Another benefit of holding such meetings is that seniors like to be asked what they want. You can schedule a pizza party and invite perhaps a dozen seniors to your studio for an hour to talk about what they like and do not like in professional photography. Make them your advisory committee. Make them feel important and that their opinions count. You can ask them to look at samples of your work and express their opinions. They are going to have their opinions whether you know them or not. It is better that you know them. People like to be asked.
You can give them a tour of your studio and your camera room and impress upon them the importance of professionally taken senior portraits. You could show them a short video that clearly shows all that you do. If you are using a Virtual Backgrounds system, you can demonstrate it for them, perhaps capturing a few sample images. Emphasize the magic and professionalism that your studio offers. Mention the problems with amateur type photographs.
You may only be meeting with a dozen seniors but seniors talk to each other. If you do it right, word will get around. If it goes well, you might want to have more than one advisory group.
What do you do if the seniors tell you that they don’t like what you produce? The answer is simple. Thank them for their advice and ask them if they would like to come back in a month for a follow up meeting where you can show them how you are working to follow their advice. They will love you for it.
Many photographers bemoan the fact that their senior business has gone to the dogs. You can join them with the dogs or you can take action to get the business in your door. It doesn’t cost much at all - just a little time.
Do you have a Scene machine sitting around not being used as much as it should be? A Scene Machine sitting unused isn’t going to make any money. In these difficult times, photographers need to put their tools to work to generate dollars. Let us help you make more money with your Scene Machine.
If you have a Scene Machine, be sure to study our entire Web site. Call to arrange to come to the next workshop. Our workshops offer much more than just technical advice on how to use your Scene Machine. If you have questions, call for customer support. Experiment with new local backgrounds that you have captured. Promote to the public what you can do with your Virtual Backgrounds system. You should be actively developing your background library.
We can make the product and we can help you, but in the end, how much money you make with Virtual Backgrounds is up to you!
If you don’t have a Virtual Backgrounds system, then maybe it is time to discover why so many of our system users would not want to operate without it. They consider it their most important attrition to their studio.