“VB is one of the best decisions I ever made. Without it I would not have opened my studio!”
Tami Byrd doesn’t hesitate to share her enthusiasm about her decision to get her Scene Machine for her new Jackson, Tennessee studio. It’s a fundamental part of everything she does and she credits her VB system for playing a major role in her success.
Tami always dreamed of being a professional photographer but started out in the 80s first working for Kodak in sales for their Lifetime Portrait Program and then in the glamor photography division of Olan Mills but she really wanted to be a working photographer. She worked for a while with her cousin, a day care photographer, while also being involved in sales for a national legislative research company. This is where she met Tony who hired her initially part time to help in his day care photography program. Tony had already been in day care work for 10 years and had a great deal to teach Tami.
Initially they here highly successful with 7 photographers until 9/11 hit and the business dropped off right when they were changing from film to digital. Tony laid off all the photographers except Tami. He married her and that began their career together as a team. With a lot of hard work the business gradually came back. From February 1 until December 1 they shoot four days a week traveling over a huge area photographing thousands of day care children. Their secret for success has always been being different. They encourage the day care children to arrive “dressed up”. They create their own sets and props and strive to be different in every way.
While Tony has remained the day care specialist, Tami got tired of the driving and decided to pursue her real life dream…having her own personal portrait studio where clients came to her. She made two major additions: she leased and then remodeled a 100 year old antebellum home in Jackson and purchased a Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system. She said she had been looking at the Scene Machine for several years and decided there was no sense in opening a studio without it. She especially did not want to pay$ 500 to $1000 for a single canvas background and then have to deal with raising and lowering it and storing it plus regular backgrounds is not any different from what most any other photographer has to offer.
Tami’s studio is primarily a theme studio incorporating many kinds of fantasy portraits including fairies, prince and princesses, the old time look, vintage baseball and much more. Tami explains, “We specialize in things the public cannot get anywhere else or do on their own. We don’t want to do anything they can do. My customers come to me because I am different…they love the total experience…I built the whole studio around Virtual Backgrounds because it enabled me to do so much more. We do many different themes.“
“Very few photographers in my area have a VB system and that’s great for us. We love our system. What is so surprising is that many photographers think it is so high tech and complicated. I just laugh. It really isn’t difficult…it’s pretty simple but it really seems high tech to my customers. It really impresses them. It provides the “wow” factor. My Scene Machine continues to impress me as I get better and better in using it. I’ve had my VB system for two years and I could not be happier with it.”
Tami loves it when customers come in and see just the black screen behind their child and then suddenly the screen magically includes a background which shows “live” on the monitor. She says it just blows them away. Tami tried green screen but much prefers the Virtual Backgrounds process for a host of reasons including the fact that with green screen, one has to pay and pay for the lab to paste in backgrounds on every exposure after the session and then the customer has to come back for the sales session.
While the day care business has been decidedly down over the past two years, Tami’s studio is growing rapidly. Tami gets a sizable portion of her business through the day care centers when parents want more specialized portraiture for their children. Some parents drive a long distance to have Tami photograph their children.
To share some of her enthusiasm, Tami is now getting involved in training. She is creating a video on how to make 3 dimensional foam props.
Tami’s enthusiasm for what she does and the Scene Machine is almost hard to control “I love what I do. I want my clients to see that I love what I do and I want them to love it too. It is really important to me. I wanted to be a photographer and this is what I am and I love using Virtual Backgrounds and being different. Who wants to be like everyone else? The main advantage of VB is that others cannot get the variety I produce. I have more backgrounds and props than anyone else. I have hundreds while others have a few. They cannot afford to do what I do with VB. It’s a huge advantage.”
Times may be tough for professional photographers overall but we don’t feel Tami is going to have any problems in getting business in the door and selling a vast array of images especially because of her special emphasis on being different in so many different ways.