February 2009 Issue

In this issue:

WPPI - A Huge Success!

PPA Sample Image Video

Dates Set for Diane Wilson
Fantasy and Theme Workshops

If Virtual Backgrounds is so Great
Why Isn't Everyone Using It?

Featured Photographers:
Richard and Patty Rives

How to Turn Backgrounds into Profits – Even in These Difficult Times

Even in this Perfect Storm and recessionary economy, background variety and innovation is the most powerful way to grow your business.  The thought behind this is very simple:  More backgrounds mean more variety and creativity.  That translates into more interest in photography by the public, more sales, larger sales, larger profit, and greater customer satisfaction.  We must work harder and smarter to entice people to spend their discretionary dollars on photography.

There are many opportunities to grow your business and profit from incorporating infinite background variety through the implementation of Virtual Backgrounds.

Here’s how to learn more:

Go to our Web site and have a look around.  There is so much to see and learn.

Read The Backgrounder eNewsletter every month.  Check out the Featured Photographer section. 

Contact us to order your copy of the hard cover book, BACKGROUND POWER!  The $39.95 book is on sale for half price and it’s guaranteed to help you grow your business.

Contact us to receive your free copy of the DVD, Imagine the Possibilities, hosted by Trevon Baker.  Pick up great ideas from the successful photographers who use Virtual Backgrounds.

Contact us to get your free copy of The Professional Photographer’s Perfect Storm.  The book that first alerted photographers to the issues we all face today.

Contact us to learn about our monthly three-day Learn and Earn Virtual Backgrounds’ Workshops conducted by Jim Wilson, Trevon Baker, and a special guest speaker (varies by month).

There are so many ways you can learn about Virtual Backgrounds, the most powerful product available today to grow your photography business and increase profits.  Check it out, now!  It can be a life-changing event.  If you have a system, learn to use it.  If you don’t have a Virtual Backgrounds system, take time to learn about how it can help you grow your business.  There is no more powerful tool available to you than Virtual Backgrounds.

Financing – No Problem at Virtual Backgrounds!

It might be hard to get a bank loan or to get a lease, but at Virtual Backgrounds, financing is not a problem.  If your studio is in the USA or Canada, you’re almost surely approved for financing at Virtual Backgrounds.  We have a unique 50/50 program.  You pay 50% of your total order up front and then make 12 equal monthly payments for the balance.  Those who acquire a VB system this way should not have any problems with the payments because they are generating big profits with their new Virtual Backgrounds system. 

It is possible to start off with a less expensive system and smaller screen to earn new profit and then graduate to a larger system at a later date.  The key factor is taking advantage of the profit-producing capabilities of a VB system, and then using the new money to pay off the system while also earning significant new profits.  While others are dying on the vine, Virtual Backgrounds system owners are seeing new profits which bring them much more than what they need to pay off the system.  Virtual Backgrounds is a powerful revenue-generating tool!

Theme Photography Teaches Fundamental Technique to Enhance Virtual Backgrounds Photography

The new emphasis on theme or fantasy photography is helping to improve the level of all Virtual Backgrounds photographers by teaching them how to create true “settings.” 

Usually when working in a real environment, indoors or outdoors, an image has a variety of layers including props perhaps in front of the subject, even with the subject, behind the subject, and in the distant background. 

The astute Virtual Backgrounds users know that they have to create the same type of image in the studio.  A Virtual Backgrounds system cannot create foreground and near background material.    The photographer has to create the total set.

Theme photographers are becoming quite adept at placing their subjects into the scene, with plants or props surrounding the subject in addition to the projected distant background.  Gradually these techniques are being adopted by more and more Virtual Backgrounds photographers with the end results taking on a more realistic look.

Virtual Backgrounds is a phenomenal process, but it has to be properly used by the photographer.  It leaves much to be desired if the photographer just sticks the subject in front of a background with little thought to creating an appropriate total scene and with only minimal emphasis on posing.  You generally harvest what you plant.

Where in the World is
San Marcos, Texas?

San Marcos is a Texas university town located half way between Austin and San Antonio.  It is just 30 miles from Austin and only 45 miles from San Antonio.  You can fly into either city.   Many airlines fly into Austin and San Antonio and the rates are usually surprisingly low especially on Southwest Airlines.  San Marcos is 3.5 hour drive from Dallas - Fort Worth and 2.5 hours from Houston.  San Marcos is also served by Amtrak.  You can take a relaxing train ride from Chicago and south or from east and west of San Antonio and get off right in San Marcos.

San Marcos is considered to be one of the most beautiful towns in Texas.  The 100% spring fed San Marcos River, runs through town and is a fun spot throughout the spring, summer, and fall.  San Marcos is also home to two of the largest outlet malls in the country (Tanger and Prime outlets). 

Many workshop attendees choose to come early or stay late.   You’ll love your visit to San Marcos, Texas and the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn Center.

Tubing down the San Marcos River is a popular past time much of the year!

Coming Events at Virtual Backgrounds

We are including more educational events than ever before in 2009!  Keep an eye out for workshops conducted by the following:

Diane Wilson – Fantasy and Theme Photography

Chris Wunder – School and Church Photography

Trevon Baker – Virtual Backgrounds and Basic Portrait Photography

Joseph and Louise Simone – The Classic Portrait

Rick Harding – Prom and School Photography

Cindy Cofer – Putting More Variety into Your Photography

Rick and Deborah Ferro - Photographic Art for Print

Make 2009 the year to learn new methods on how to successfully combat the Perfect Storm.

Visit Us at the Following Upcoming Trade Shows

Photo Marketing Association (PMA),  Las Vegas, March 3 - 5, 2009

*PP of California, Pasadena, California, March 21 - 23, 2009

*Heart of America, March 28 - 30, 2009

Southeastern PPA, Atlanta, April 25 - 27, 2009

*VB is sponsoring Greg Stangl at PP of California and Heart of America

Free Fantasy Photography Calendars Still Available

Virtual Backgrounds in conjunction with Marathon Press and American Photographic Resources is offering a free 2009 photo calendar.  Contact Virtual Backgrounds today for your free copy!

IPWA – International Portrait and Wedding Academy Workshop in Mexico

There are still a few seats available for the IPWA workshop to be held in Mexico March 7 – 14, 2009.   The workshop is presented by IPWA and Nulab Professional Imaging of Australia. The workshop is all inclusive.  It is so powerful that some attendees are taking the workshop for the second time.

Click here for further information.

Discover How Virtual Backgrounds Can Grow Your Business Even in These Difficult Times –

Register to Attend a VB Workshop

The next three-day intensive Virtual Backgrounds workshop will be held March 16 – 18, 2009, at the VB Learn and Earn Center in San Marcos, Texas.  The workshop is conducted by Jim Wilson, Cr. Photog. Certified, and Montana Photographer, Trevon Baker, Cr.Photog. Certified.   

The workshop covers all aspects of implementing a Virtual Backgrounds system.  Jim Wilson covers the technical aspects on the first day.  Trevon Baker conducts hands-on experience and a wide variety of related topics.  Workshop attendees stay at the nearby Comfort Inn at a special VB rate of only $45 per night.  San Marcos is located just 30 miles south of Austin, Texas on Interstate 35.  Contact us for further information and registration. 

Business First – Photography Second

It used to be who everyone came to photography programs and workshops to learn more about how to shoot better photographs, and no one was interested in the business side of photography.  In fact, in the past, PPA and WPPI had few if any business orientated programs.   

The Perfect Storm and the economic crisis are bringing about big changes.  At the Mid East convention held a few weeks ago, Rick Avalos of Colorado was a judge and also an “early bird” speaker, speaking on business operations.  Initially 50 chairs were set up.  Moments before the program started, the organization had to bring in extra chairs.  Across the hall, a “how to” portrait speaker had less than half that number.

At both PPA’s Imaging USA and WPPI there was a completely new emphasis on business programs.  Photographers learned that the knowledge of business principles is actually more important than how to take good portraits.  Many great photographers are not doing very well while many not so great photographers are doing very well because they make good business and marketing decisions. 

If you are into photography for the fun of taking pictures and without a concern for actually making a profit, you can continue as always.  However, if you are looking to make a profit, especially a significant profit, then you have no choice but to spend considerable effort to develop your knowledge of basic business and marketing.

Virtual Backgrounds Print Competition Report

We have received a great array of images for the Virtual Backgrounds Print Competition.  The quality of entries is higher than ever before as photographers place more and more emphasis on learning to produce outstanding work with Virtual Backgrounds.  The winners have been chosen and will be contacted next week.  Winners will be announced in the March edition of The Backgrounder along with the winning images including honorable mention.

Diane Wilson's Fantasy and Theme Workshops

Check Out These Results!

Diane Wilson’s workshops held at Virtual Backgrounds are a really unique learning experience.  In four days, participants learn all about fantasy and theme photography by actually doing it themselves.   Diane is the coach.  She provides the tools and a ton of fundamental information and the “secrets” that others so closely guard.  The Diane Wilson workshop provides enterprising photographers a “quick start” into the hot world of fantasy photography.  It’s a big money maker.  The participants each receive copies of all the images created by the participants and then get to further enhance them when they return to their home studios.

The next Diane Wilson workshop is April 27-30, 2009, at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn Center in San Marcos, Texas. The class is limited to just 12 participants.  The April class is already half full.  Reservations are also being taken for future workshops planned for the rest of the year.  If you are looking for new profits, here is your opportunity.

The above images were taken by participants at the recent February Diane Wilson workshop. All attendees take home the images created in the class!

Send Us Your Thoughts!

If you have any experiences with Virtual Backgrounds that you would like to share with the readers of The Backgrounder, please write to us at [email protected]

Perhaps you have had an especially successful experience, or perhaps you solved an issue that would be helpful to others.  Let us know and we'll share it with the readers of The Backgrounder!

WPPI – A Huge Success!

Last week we saw the WPPI convention and trade show jump far ahead of the PPA Imaging show, especially in terms of numbers of attendees.  PPA Imaging produced an estimated 7,000 attendees while WPPI estimates that when the final numbers are counted, more than 12,000 attended.   WPPI also demonstrated a much more enthusiastic group.  At the beginning of each day and between sessions, it was often difficult to get around because the halls were so crowded with photographers rushing to their next sessions.

WPPI is tapping into a younger generation of photographers who are anxiously trying to find their way around while also experiencing the Perfect Storm and the economic turmoil.  Many are part-timers working out of their homes.  Most start out doing weddings and finding that to be difficult in today’s market and are now looking into developing their hand at portrait work.  They are discovering that in order to be successful in today’s marketplace they have to present unique and contemporary products.  Initially, they are looking at what might be called trinkets to offer, but now they are discovering significant concepts such as Virtual Backgrounds which can completely change their business.

At the Virtual Backgrounds exhibit, many photographers were wowed by the concept that they had never seen before.   A number of visitors to the exhibit have had some experience with using green screen and were anxious to find solutions to the time consuming problems they have experienced.  Again and again, Virtual Backgrounds consultants were asked, “What software are you using?”  They could not imagine that the process was entirely optical and did not involve computers or software whatsoever.  They also could not imagine that the results were seen live in the camera and instantaneously captured when the image was created.

Overall, many industry suppliers felt that the WPPI trade show was far more successful than the PPA Imaging event which was held is nearby Phoenix just a few weeks earlier.  Hundreds of anxious photographers were lined up for the opening of WPPI.  The aisles were crowded until the end of each day including the last day.

WPPI will be in Las Vegas again next year while PPA Imaging will move to Nashville.  There has never been a time in professional photography where attending programs and trade shows has been more important.

The Virtual Backgrounds booth at WPPI was jammed with photographers looking at the Virtual Backgrounds process as a means to enhance their business profits.

PPA Sample Image Video

Check out these images captured in our trade show booth at the recent PPA Imaging USA Convention! If we can produce these results in a trade show booth setting, imagine what you can do in your own studio space!

Dates Set for Diane Wilson Fantasy
and Theme Photography Workshops

Diane Wilson fantasy and theme February workshop attendees
poses with the costumes they made as part of the class.

Diane Wilson’s fantasy theme photography workshops have been so successful that we have now set five new dates in 2009 for the four-day workshop.  The workshop class size is limited to 12.   Diane Wilson is the Toronto Canada flea market photographer whose fantasy and theme photography is being widely recognized throughout the country and beyond.  She is open only two days a week and is doing quite well.   Instead of “hording” her methods, keeping them secret, or selling her secrets for incredible prices, Diane is teaching others, helping them get started in this highly profitable, hot arena.

Attending a Diane Wilson workshop is truly a unique experience.  It isn’t just photography.  It includes how to find and purchase appropriate props, how to make costumes inexpensively, how and where to buy other items, and how to capture the photography itself.  It also places considerable emphasis on how to enhance the work after capture.  Diane is full of ideas to help the photographer get started producing highly profitable work.  The workshop includes everything you need to get started.

The next date for the Diane Wilson fantasy and theme photography workshop is April 27-30, 2009, at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn education center in San Marcos, Texas.  The workshop cost is only $595 and includes daily lunches.   A special arrangement between VB and the nearby Comfort Inn provides rooms for only $45 per night.  The Diane Wilson workshop is co-sponsored by Virtual Backgrounds, Marathon Press, and American Photographic Resources (APR).

Theme and fantasy photography sells, even in these difficult times.  The opportunities are unlimited.  You can do this kind of work in your studio or on location.  Now is the best time to get in on the action and get in on the profits!

If Virtual Backgrounds is So Great,
Why Isn’t Everyone Using It?

This is a question that many photographers ask us at trade shows.  The answer is in many ways, quite complex. A good part of the answer is that it can be very hard to change one’s ways of doing things.  Studios have traditionally been rather stiff and formal, with the photographer using one or several hanging canvas and muslin backgrounds even though many of today’s younger clients detest the traditional look.  There is also a belief that Virtual Backgrounds could not possibly work since it doesn’t use computers and software.  There are still those who believe it is too complicated or that today’s clients would not like it when in fact they absolutely love the results. 

The fact is, if more professional photographers would simply take a look and try the equipment for themselves, they would be pleasantly surprised!  They would learn that Virtual Backgrounds is a universal tool to be used by the highest level, medium level, and even high volume retail and school photographers, to enhance their work and sales. Backgrounds do indeed help to sell more photographs, and there is no more efficient way to create those images with complementary backgrounds than by using the Virtual Backgrounds process.

Every month we publish a new edition of The Backgrounder eNewsletter with numerous stories about our successful system users.  We also published the hard bound book, BACKGROUND POWER! that teaches photographers how to use and profit with backgrounds.   Furthermore, every month we offer a three-day workshop on how to use and implement Virtual Backgrounds into the studio.  After attending the workshop and working with Virtual Backgrounds, going back to a traditional studio is very limiting and frustrating.  One’s own imagination is the only limitation when using Virtual Backgrounds.

So, if you are looking for new magic for your studio, take time to learn all about what Virtual Backgrounds can do for you.  You’ll soon be kicking yourself for not doing it earlier.  We guarantee you’ll love it!

Featured Photographers
Richard and Patty Rives

Since 1991, Richard and Patty Rives have operated Richard’s photography in San Antonio, Texas.  The home based studio specializes in seniors, families, and tasteful boudoir.  Richard tried a number of other career endeavors, but once he got into photography, the rest was history.  Photography was his chosen life career.

Richard was always looking for ways to be different. He not only fed his creative instincts, but he also worked to distinguish his work from that of other photographers in his area.  He first learned about the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system online.  When he realized that it was manufactured just 45 miles away, Richard scheduled time to visit the Virtual Backgrounds studio in San Marcos, Texas for a personal demonstration.  A highly knowledgeable computer expert and webmaster, Richard had already been experimenting with green screen to create backgrounds for his clients.  However, he always felt that the results looked fake, and it took too much time to paste in backgrounds and more time to make corrections where green screen failed.  He also felt that green screen cheapened his work, especially since many amateurs know about green screen and can now do their own pasting in of backgrounds.  He also did not like placing his clients in front of the ugly green background and then having them come back later to view their images, after the backgrounds had been added.    Richard prefers to show and sell immediately after the images are captured.

Richard’s visit to Virtual Backgrounds got him so excited about the optically based Virtual Backgrounds process that he immediately scheduled himself to attend a full three-day VB workshop.  Richard states, “I was ready to go.  Right after I ordered my Virtual Backgrounds system and attended the workshop, I took down all my muslin and canvas backgrounds that cluttered up my camera room taking up valuable space and got ready for my new Virtual Backgrounds system.  I was completely convinced that this was how I was going to go from here on out.  I received my system in January, 2008, and have been going strong ever since.  Because I have beautiful gardens in my back yard, I offer my clients a choice of staying indoors and using Virtual Backgrounds or going outside or a combination of both inside and outside portraits.  Richard worked with his new system for about a month before he fully integrated it into his operation.

Richard can’t stop talking about Virtual Backgrounds and how it has helped his business.  In the last year, his average sales have grown 65%, primarily because of his Virtual Backgrounds system.  He was also able to raise his prices.  Richard states, “The Virtual Backgrounds workshop was wonderful.  I learned so much.  It would be foolish to get a Virtual Backgrounds system and not take the workshop.  I keep learning every day.  Recently I attended a session at Virtual Backgrounds with Trevon Baker.  He is awesome.  He helped me not only with Virtual Backgrounds but also with my lighting and posing.  Trevon is very caring, very patient, and just a fantastic teacher.  He showed me lighting techniques that I had never thought of doing and these techniques have really improved my photography.  No matter how many years you have in photography, you can never stop learning and trying new things.  That is what keeps me excited and ahead of other photographers.  Even though I got the system, I did not fully appreciate the power of the background.  It is a key part of the photograph that helps to set the tone.  I now do 100% of my in studio work with the Scene Machine.  There is no need for anything else.  Why would I want all those nasty muslins and canvas in my studio?  They are so limiting and they take up valuable space.”

Patty and Richard work together on most sittings.  Patty concentrates more on working with the clients, fixing their hair and clothing in the camera room and handling general office management.  She also does the studio’s books.  Richard’s Photography is definitely a team approach.  They thought of opening in a commercial location, but their home based studio has worked out just fine.  They feel it is a much more relaxed atmosphere for their clients.  Although their studio is also their home, there is no question when a client enters the front door that they are in a professional photography reception area and studio.  The walls are covered with large portraits.  It is just a few steps to the camera room and garden.

Richard continues saying, “I love photography.  The Scene Machine enables me to be so much more creative.  The Scene Machine helps me to work so much faster and do so much more.  I always know that in the back of my mind if someone asks me if I have a certain background, I can say Yes!  I make my clients look like they want to look.  Backgrounds are very important in San Antonio.  That is what everyone wants.  Some kids even want gothic backgrounds.   With the Scene Machine I am able to give them a bit of everything.  Total variety is important.  I even do a variety of colors.”

Richard adds, “I use a lot of props.  Props help the total image pop.  I even use a 1940s love seat my grandmother once owned. I have a standing lamppost with a real light on the inside and a variety of other props.  Actually, just about every piece of furniture in our home can be brought into the studio to be used as a prop.  I’ll never work without my Scene Machine again.  Why would I want to go backwards?  I am limited on space.  The Scene Machine is perfect.  It saves me a lot of stress and physical work.  It is so easy to use the Scene Machine in my studio.  I love it and it makes me money.”

“It’s no secret that the economy is not good but we all need to think positive.  I try to avoid listening to negative things.  The more negative things you listen to, the more negative you can get.  Keep a positive outlook no matter how bad it is and you can soar.  Things change.   You will attract the right customers if you are always positive.”

There is no doubt that Patty and Richard will continue to be successful.  Their home studio keeps their overhead down, and their extensive variety created with the Scene Machine and also on location in their backyard garden area will continue to please their clients.  They offer the clients what the they want and so much more!  That is the key to success not only in photography but in most any business.

Learn how to fight the Perfect Storm and
now the recession too.

Learn the secrets of Virtual Backgrounds!

Plan now to attend the March 16-18, 2009,
workshop with Jim Wilson and Trevon Baker!

Contact us to get signed up now!

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.

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