A True Virtual Backgrounds Pioneer
Stanley Burgin is 79 years old. He still operates his portrait studio in Mansfield England, about 14 miles from Nottingham. Without a doubt, Stanley has always been a true photographic artist, pursuing the creation of unique portrait images for his clients. He always sought to bring the most innovative technology and methods to his studio. This is what prompted him to look into a brand new concept back in 1981. It was the Scene Machine from the USA. He had heard about the Scene Machine and he immediately hooked up with the UK Scene Machine distributor, Peter Stanhope. Once he saw it and tried it, he knew he had to own one for his studio.
Stanley was one of the very first international Virtual Backgrounds customers. Back then, it was a very primitive product compared to today. There was no special coatings on the screen and no Blackscreen to help avoid washout from the studio lights. The projector had to be carefully manually aligned. The screen was made up of 24 inch wide strips of reflective material. Many photographers complained back then that they just couldn’t make it work. Stanley didn’t know that other photographers were having a hard time and often giving up. So, he just took his talent, his determination, and for the past 27 years, the Scene Machine has been and still is a key part of his studio. He very seldom works without it. When his original machine was stolen 12 years ago, he replaced it with what is today called the Scene Machine Universal. When digital became popular, Stanley ordered a special revolver to convert his Scene Machine to digital camera use.
It didn’t take Stanley long to master his Scene Machine. He was using it with customers the day after he received it, and he is still proud of those first efforts.
Stanley state, “I found that some photographers use their Scene Machine once or twice and when they come up against a little problem, they don’t bother to overcome. They don’t persevere. I just don’t understand them. The Scene Machine is so inspirational. There isn’t much creativity in a studio without a Scene Machine. The Scene Machine brings you anything and everything you want - abstracts, patterns, scenes - absolutely anything! Without the Scene Machine the studio business is boring and repetitive.”
Many photographers in England have been specializing in solid white backgrounds. While Stanley will do an occasional high key, he clearly sees white backgrounds as old fashioned and very limiting in creativity. Stanley says, “I use to do white backgrounds back in the 50s. Plain white is so boring, really. It seems that every photographer does white background photographs and not much else. That’s no way to be creative.”
Stanley’s camera room is only 17' x 17' and yet he is able to do entire family groups. He has learned to sometimes position his subjects only inches from the background so he can get maximum depth. According to Stanley, “I don’t get any washout; I just keep an eye on it.”
"When I have a little time in the evenings, I get inspiration from my Scene Machine. I take the camera off the machine and just look at images through the machine, where the camera normally would go. I look at different scenes and imagine in my mind where and how I would place a subject. Sometimes I use the whole scene; other times only part of it. This is the best way to imagine the poses, so I am really ready when a customer is standing in front of my camera.”
Stanley may be getting older and supposedly retired 11 years ago, but he certainly has not lost is vigor for photography. Three years ago, he went entirely digital and is continually looking for new ways to use his Scene Machine. He is an avid reader of The Backgrounder every month and is thrilled with many of the new ideas he sees there such as Diane Wilson’s fairy fantasy portraits.
Stanley concluded his interview by saying, “I do 100% of my work with the Scene Machine. There is no need for anything else. Why would I want to work without it? I feel lost without my Scene Machine. Without it, there is something missing. Many of my customers come to me because of the Scene Machine. Obviously they like it or they would not come."
Stanley Burgin has played a very important role with our company by showing us, years ago, that wonderful high grade work could be created with the Scene Machine. Whereas Stanley finds his Scene Machine to be inspirational, we find Stanley and his work with the Scene Machine to be highly inspirational. Thank you Stanley Burgin for making our products shine so bright over there across the pond.
Shortly after getting his first Scene Machine, Stanley submitted a portrait of a young engaged couple with a projected warm fireplace background for the Kodak Gold Award. The next year, Stanley submitted another portrait again won the Kodak Gold Award. He was later admitted to the Kodak Gold Circle for his Scene Machine artistry.
In the late 80s, Stanley applied for licentiale membership in the Association of Master Photographers of Great Britain. A panel of judges reviewed Stanley’s work, all done with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system, and he was immediately awarded Associate Membership. It was the very first time a photographer was granted Associate Membership with images that were all created with the Scene Machine. It was highly likely that none of the judges ever realized that the Scene Machine was involved in the creation of the images.
Marian Oles, Henry Oles and Stanley Burgin receiving one of his many awards for photographic artistry