December 2006 Issue

In this issue:

Santa Claus HAS Come to Town

There are Still a Few Seats Left
for the Simone Seminar in January

What are Independent Photographers...Chopped Liver?

Slide Sets Soon to Be Released

Santa Claus HAS
Already Come to Town!

Who Says that We Can't Fight
the PERFECT STORM...and Win!

The Professional Photographer’s Perfect Storm publication has gotten many photographers thinking about the problems that we all face.  Sadly, too many photographers see the future as all “doom and gloom.”  That was absolutely not the point of the Perfect Storm book.  The doom and gloom is for those who do not change their ways and who do not turn the negative trends into positive results.

Santa Claus photos are a perfect example.  What professional photographer in his right mind would even try to do Santa Claus photos?  After all, the department stores and malls have taken all that business, and they do it for almost nothing.  Plus, the public today can take their own photos with digital cameras and make their own prints.  This is a dead market for the professional, right?  Wrong!

There is another way to look at it.  If a professional photographer is really "professional" and can clearly produce quality work that is infinitely beyond what the malls do and infinitely beyond what the amateur can do, why not demonstrate that difference to the public with quality, timeless, Santa Claus portraits?

That is exactly what Trevon Baker of Kalispell, Montana started doing last year. He found the perfect Santa and used Virtual Backgrounds to create special backgrounds for his set.  He scheduled the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving as the time to have quality portraits taken with Santa in his studio.  He offered free sittings with the immediate opportunity to purchase prints.  In 2005, his average sale was near $100.00. He very clearly distinguished his work from the typical Santa shooters and in doing so, he scheduled a number of family sittings as well while the families were in the studio.   They saw the quality of Trevon’s work and realized that he could produce high quality professional photographs.

As early as July 2006, people started to inquire about the Christmas time Santa photos, so Trevon ran the same event again this year.  This time he had more sittings with slightly lower averages, but the overall profit was higher.  He used a variety of methods to advertise the event including newspaper, radio, and most importantly, email communication with his customers. In addition to the profits he made directly from Santa Claus, as a result of his Santa promotion, he made considerably more from the family sittings.

This year, Houston photographer, Jim Richard jumped on Trevon’s Santa idea.  Jim had just completed a course with Joseph and Louise Simone at Virtual Backgrounds and recently implemented a Virtual Backgrounds system in his studio enabling him to have a wide array of backgrounds.  Like Trevon, the promotion was scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend and sittings were free.  Jim’s major form of promotion was a huge banner that he displayed outside of his studio.  The banner included a sample photograph with Santa.  He very quickly had 20 appointments on the books.

The Thanksgiving weekend promotion was so successful that Jim was forced to add a Tuesday evening and then even a Thursday.  Within minutes after opening the Thursday session, he had several bookings.  Word of mouth was getting around. While handling the customers for the Santa promotion, Jim booked a number of family sittings.  “A great Santa, quality time with Santa, quality photography, Scene Machine backgrounds and good promotion were all keys to my success,” said Jim.

Jessica Laredo de Sierra of Saltillo Mexico had her own special holiday promotion, Mexico style.  Jessica was contracted by a 700 student private school to photograph all the school children as a gift for their parents at Christmas.  She used the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system to project backgrounds that she created herself.  The response has been excellent.  Jessica plans to expand the program next year.

Trevon Baker's
Experience in This Year's

Santa Promotion

Montana photographer, Trevon Baker, continues to be thrilled with the response he has gotten from his Santa promotion.  Trevon insisted on the children spending quality time with Santa.  He allowed the subject plenty of time to bond with Santa which resulted in his “timeless” images, all of which were created with Virtual Backgrounds.

Trevon says, “We ended up doing more photos than last year but with a slightly lower average, but still had a significant increase in dollars over last year."

"No form of advertising brought in as many people as did my e-mailing to all of last year's Santa customers and my entire customer list.  It worked great and it is practically free."

"I have a lot of success with radio promotion.  I do candid conversations with the show hosts about the various services offered by Trevon Baker Photography."

"When the prints were ready for delivery, the phone rang off the hook."

Jim Richard's
Experience in This Year's
Santa Promotion

“The banner I made is the best thing I’ve done, not only for the Santa special but for the recognition of my studio even existing.  People just really don’t notice the regular business sign.  People tell me all the time that they see the banner every day on the way home from work.”  Jim used his Scene Machine for this year's Santa special.

"Santa himself told me the other day that people ask him if he saw the awesome looking Santa Portrait that we have displayed by the roadway.  They didn’t know that they were actually talking with THE Santa in the portrait!"

“Believe it or not, we were so busy that I am still not done tallying up the totals.  In fact, we will have Santa here for two more nights due to the number of calls we have received from people who couldn’t make it on the weekend."

“I want to change the name of my business.  I think that photography in my name implies that I only do what everyone else can do, including amateurs, point and shoot.  I am going through a major overhaul of my image which is due in large part to Virtual Backgrounds seminars and books.  It’s time to make a statement!”

“Everyone is so amazed by the Scene Machine.  I have to tell you that things are more exciting and busier around here lately.  I owe much of that to the Scene Machine as well as to the educational courses Virtual Backgrounds has provided along with my extreme drive to succeed.  The Simone workshop taught me so much."

"I'm still busy with Santa sessions.  They look great.  I made a $500 sale today from a family.  We are doing a 3 hour session on Tuesday and all the time slots are almost full.  I’ve booked a lot of family sessions.  People are amazed at the quality.  The Simone seminar was really a big help in developing my approach. The Simone seminars were so important.  They helped me redefine my image."

"Dr. Oles - don’t sell your system to any of my immediate competition!"

Jessica Laredo de Sierra's
Experience in This Year's
Santa Promtion

Mexico photographer, Jessica Laredo de Sierra, developed her own style of fall holiday photographs for her school kids.  Jessica created her own Scene Machine backgrounds to fit with Mexico tradition of holiday portraits.

Jessica says, “Even though I already had contracts with two schools in advance, it gave me the opportunity to offer something totally different with an original background. Since we never experience snow in our city, the snow scene could not be possible to create without Virtual Backgrounds. The reactions were unique. I let some of the kids look in the viewfinder of the camera and their impressions were 'This is cool...It's awesome!'"

“The schools were so satisfied and enjoyed this experience so much that we are already planning the new scene for next year!”

Praise Continues for
The Professional


“Isn’t it time to stop complaining and change your way of thinking?  Read the Perfect Storm.  It may save your business.”
Rick Harding
San Antonio, Texas

Contact us for your
FREE copy today!

What are Independent
Chopped Liver?

A major Cleveland television station recently did a survey conducting what they called a “Picture Perfect Test."  They sent several different families to various studios in the area to compare the quality of the experience and product and to compare pricing. 

It is interesting that they did not survey one single independent photographer.  They sent their “spies” to Olan Mills, K-Mart, Picture People, JC Penny, and Portrait Innovations.  It was as if independent professional photographers didn’t exist.

The feature criticized the studios for the small size of their camera rooms, their lack of sufficient help, and pricing differences.  They called one studio a “closet.”  They found Olan Mills to have the most affordable package for just $18.

They found Picture People, JC Penny and Portrait Innovations to be “pricier” but with little more to offer.

They criticized some companies because they did not have instant digital results to view.  They were unhappy because they had to wait “an hour” to see the proofs.

They then took the prints to a magazine art director for evaluation. The art director complained about some prints being slightly yellow and said that some photos had better skin tones and a better format - whatever that means.

It’s clear that the independent professional is increasingly not part of the professional studio equation.  When people want photos, they think of the mall or big box store photographers and they think in terms of $18 to $30.  No one can survive at those prices!

The Perfect Storm is here for everyone.  It is hitting the independents and it is also hitting the national chains.  There is only one way to fight the storm and that is to clearly offer the client a distinctively different product with a lot more creativity and artistry. The client will be able to immediately see the difference and will respond with orders!

This is where Virtual Backgrounds can help play a major role. Virtual Backgrounds can help professional studio clearly distinguish their work from the amateur and the public will willingly pay for a decidedly better product.

Santa Claus HAS Already Come to Town
and Brought Profits for
Virtual Backgrounds Photographers!

(See article in left hand column)

(The above images were captured by Trevon Baker)

(The above images were captured by Jim Richard)

(The above images were captured by Jessica Laredo de Sierra)

There is little doubt what Trevon, Jim and Jessica will be doing next November.  There is also little doubt that professional photographers can get the business and earn the profits when they offer truly unique high quality Santa or holiday portraits that are far above and beyond anything the mall photographers and the amateurs can do.  If we don’t produce high quality work, if we don’t adequately promote our products, we will lose everything.

Many photographers seem to think that the public cannot see the difference between amateur snap shots and quality professional photography, thus not being driven to purchase quality images.  Perhaps it is the other way around.  If high quality, creative photography isn’t offered and properly promoted, of course, no one will buy it.  The problem is of our own making - the problem is for us to fix!

VB People Spotlight:
Carolyn Knighton

Virutal Backgrounds would like to introduce you to Carolyn Knighton, one of the newest members of our family. In the short time that Carolyn has been with us she has jumped in with both feet and has done an excellent job educating photographers about the many attributes of owning a Virtual Backgrounds system.

We applaude Carolyn's contribution to spreading the word about Virtual Backgrounds and we welcome her to our Virtual Backgrounds family!

Featured Item From
Web Photo Supply

Ring Light for SLR
Cameras - (MCLS-1)


  • Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamp

  • 5000 Kelvin +/- 10%

  • Battery operated 6 x 1.5V AA (Batteries are not included)

  • Includes AC/DC Adaptor (DC Output of 9V, 600mA)

  • Includes 3 Lens Adaptor Rings (49mm, 52mm, 55mm)

  • 6 months Warranty

Professional Net - $109.95

Available now at
Web Photo Supply

New Slide Sets Soon to
be Released!

Look for an announcement in the next issue of The Backgrounder for new slide sets that will become available in the beginning of next year! We are putting final touches on such sets as the Senior 2008 collection as well as new Abstract, Stained Glass and Textures slide sets. Click here to see our current selections of Background Libraries.

Remember - you can always create your own square or 35mm background slides. Click here to see how!

-Virtual Backgrounds Monthly Workshops-
January is filling up fast! Sign up today!

Click here for more information!

There are a Few Seats Still Available for
the Simone Seminar in San Marcos
January 8-11, 2007!

(Images from the Simone seminar in October 2006)

We are very excited that Joseph and Louise Simone are coming back for a second seminar in San Marcos on January 8-11, 2007.

For those of you who plan to attend Imaging USA (PPA's National Convention) in San Antonio (just 50 miles away from San Marcos), this may be a great way for you to kill two birds with one stone and attend both events!

If you are looking to significantly elevate your creativity and produce a product that is unaffected by the Perfect Storm, you need to attend a Simone seminar.  It is four days of learning in a relaxed environment. Special attention will be given to how the Simones use Virtual Backgrounds.

If you are interested in attending this powerful January workshop that can change the way you do portraiture and help you defeat the PERFECT STORM, sign up now! Space is limited and we only have a few seats left, so contact us to reserve your space before this class, too, becomes a sell out!

Happy Holidays from Virtual Backgrounds!

We'd like to wish you and your family a happy and successful holiday season from our family at Virtual Backgrounds!

[email protected]

Want to see Virtual Backgrounds in action?

Click here for our upcoming trade show,
seminar and affiliate school schedule.

Also click here for information on our
Virtual Backgrounds Training Workshops.

To unsubscribe from this emailing, click here. Type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.