February 2011 Issue

In this issue:

The New VB Express Portrait System - A Big Hit at Imaging USA!

I Choose Perfection - Richard Sturdevant Presents Dynamic Program at Imaging USA

Imaging USA Update: Big Awards Handed Out to VB System Owners!

Trevon Baker Scheduled to Conduct One Day Workshop Prior to WPPI in Las Vegas

The Rebirth of Wallpaper - What Could This Possibly have to do with Professional Photographers?

VB used for PPA Degree
Recipient Award Photos
7th Consecutive Year

For the 7th time, the background for all of the photographs taken of PPA degree earners with the president of the PPA was taken with backgrounds created with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  An image of the appropriate bronze wall plaque was projected behind each degree recipient as they were congratulated by the president.  

The Scene Machine was chosen to create backgrounds to replace the traditional canvas background that was the same for every photograph, regardless of the degree earned. The Scene Machine provides variety and creates a background that tells a story about the subject.

Imaging USA Report

Tone was Upbeat!

image by Trevon Baker

At the recently held Imaging USA convention, photographers’ attitudes about the present and future of professional photography was much more upbeat than in the past several years.  Most photographers feel that things have bottomed out.  Although no one expects the storm to ever go away, we are learning how to live with the storm, much as was predicted in the book, The Professional Photographer’s Perfect Storm.  The digital revolution and the Do It Yourself attitude will continue, but it is possible for the most aggressive and creative photographers to rise above it and be successful. 

The key factor to success is to produce work that the public desirers but cannot do on their own.  For example, it is going to be more and more difficult for the photographer who specializes in location work such as working in the local park, where they operate more or less like a snapshot photographer, taking images that the public could also do on their own.  On the other hand, when the professional creates images that the public cannot do on their own, such as the composite work produced by Richard Sturdevant and Lora Yeater, then it’s a whole different story.

Virtual Backgrounds will continue to play a significant role in helping photographers create products the amateurs cannot do on their own.  The public does not own a Virtual Backgrounds system.  At most, some play with green screen on their home computers.  They do not have formal studios equipped with technology like Virtual Backgrounds that enables the professional photographer to create a wide variety of images in a very short time, without leaving the studio.  VB is truly one of our last pieces of magic that others do not have.

Some photographers dread advances in technology because they see it as being the cause of the Perfect Storm that is driving many of them into bankruptcy.  On the other hand, it is the proper and creative use of technology, such as Virtual Backgrounds, that helps photographers to rise above the Storm and prosper.

Success isn’t automatic but with the proper combination of technology, creative talent, aggressive promotion, and more, some professional photographers’ businesses are growing and more will follow.  The ultimate key to success is to find ways to rise above.

VB Learn and Earn Workshops

Guaranteed to Really

Make a Difference

The lineup for 2011 workshops is being finalized with workshops that have the power to positively change the way you operate your business and generate new profits.

VB Workshops
How to Turn Backgrounds
into Dollars

Upcoming Workshop Dates:
February 7-9, 2011
March 7-9, 2011
April 4-6, 2011

This powerful three-day workshop thoroughly teaches the technical basics of Virtual Backgrounds and then transcends into the creative and artistic components that you can use to generate new profits for your studio business. 

The price is $295 for three days, three meals, a ton of valuable information, and lots of hands-on time.  As with all VB workshops, your satisfaction is unconditionally guaranteed.  Enrollment is limited.  Click here for more information.

Richard Sturdevant
How to Create Composite Art

April 7-8, 2011

Richard returns to again present this phenomenal two-day workshop that shows you the ins-and-outs of creating exciting and profitable Lifestyle Art Portraits.   Recently, Richard scored 100 on each of the four composite art images he submitted for print competition.  This was the first time this has happened in PPA history.  Richard’s composite art work is not just for competition; it is for profit. 

The public has never seen images like this which can be sold for a very good price.  This workshop is all hands on.  Bring your own laptop and PhotoShop and be prepared for a great deal of intensive learning.  The registration for this workshop is $295 in advance and $395 at the door, if space is available.

Joseph and Louise Simone
How to Create Classic Art Portraits

Summer, 2011

Simply the best classic portrait artists known today, Joseph and Louise Simone return to VB to present their very popular five-day workshop that will raise your artistic thinking to a new level. More details to follow in upcoming issues of The Backgrounder.

Every VB Workshop Comes with an Unconditional Guarantee!

Every workshop conducted by VB comes with an unconditional guarantee.  If a participant doesn’t feel that the workshop met their expectations, their total registration fee will be refunded.  It does not matter which workshop, if VB sponsored it then your satisfaction is guaranteed.

VB founder and president, Dr. Henry Oles, states, “So many workshops that are available today are mostly about fluff - interesting stuff that may not add a dollar to your bottom line.  The workshops we sponsor are structured to provide participants with as many money making tools/skills as possible.”  Even our traveling workshops come with the same guarantee.

Professional Studios Becoming a Rarity

According to Tampa area photographer, Kevin Newsome, speaking at SPI, there are approximately 160 members of the Tampa area professional photographers association.  Guess how many have actual commercial space studios?  Only 10!  The rest work out of their homes or strictly on location with no base at all.  Is it any wonder that the public is forgetting about professional photographers and doing their own photography?

There is a certain magic about actually going to a professional photographer with a professional studio where the photographer works to achieve the best possible results by manipulating every aspect of the event including the lighting, posing, clothing, hair, backgrounds, everything.  Having a professional studio does not eliminate location work, it complements it.  It’s all about the total experience.  It’s possible for the professional photographer to have a home-based studio, but it must look like a full-fledged studio that just happens to be located in a home.  Always remember that a good part of professional photography is selling the experience.

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!

The New VB Express
Portrait System

A Big Hit at Imaging USA

(camera and stand not included)

Based on the response at Imaging USA, the new VB Express Virtual Backgrounds system is going to be a big hit!  A number of photographers are on the wait list with shipments starting after the middle of February.

The VB Express is half the price of the Scene Machine Digital and was designed primarily for location work such as school photography, church directories, sports, and more.  It is a very compact and light weight unit.  When sold with a 4 x 6 foot background screen, the total price is under $4000.  Larger screens are available.  Many photographers are looking at the VB Express as a replacement for their troublesome green screen systems.  They especially like seeing the background live in the viewfinder which allows them to have the entire process complete when they press the trigger.  There is no time consuming pasting in of backgrounds later which can be expensive.  Using Virtual Backgrounds means that images can be shown to the customer immediately.   Location photographers such as school photographers are especially enthusiastic because of its simplicity, compactness, and affordable price.   

Click here for more information on the new VB Express.

I Choose Perfection!

Richard Sturdevant Presents Dynamic
Program at Imaging USA

There's Opportunity for Those Who are Unique

Nearly 700 photographers got up early to attend Richard Sturdevant’s 7:30 a.m. program at Imaging USA.  They enjoyed learning about his composite art photography which has taken off like wild fire.  Sturdevant’s program “The Pursuit of Creative Perfection” was seen as one of the highlights of the entire convention.

“I choose to be different.  I choose perfection.”   Richard explained that we are living in a different world from before and everyone has to be more creative to survive.  Those who are sinking don’t make changes to get out of the quick sand.

Richard is not a photographer, he is a photographic artist.  This separates him from others, and he recommends all photographers consider this for themselves too.  Everyone, professional or amateur, who takes photos, considers themselves to be a photographer.  He explains that although his techniques are not complicated, he keeps building on them to make them better and better.  Richard states, “People come to me because I am different.”

Here at Virtual Backgrounds, we are very proud of Richard’s work!  The majority of his studio work is done with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  Richard purchased it several years ago to be different, produce highly creative work, and entice the public.  His plan is working!

Richard started out as a traditional artist.  As that market dried up, he began applying his techniques to photography.  He hasn’t looked back since.  He seeks creative perfection:  a state of being without flaw or defect - a perfect embodiment.

In 2010, Richard made history when he submitted four prints for competition and scored 100 on each.  This had never happened before.   Most photographers only dream of scoring 100 on one print at some point in their life, and most never achieve it.   Four for four is beyond imagination.

Because there are always those who want the ultimate in creative variety and artistry, Richard is not wanting for business.  Even in these difficult times.  This is a major reason why the Scene Machine plays a very important role in his studio operation.  He also uses the Scene Machine VB system for proms and other location events.

Richard will be conducting a two-day intensive workshop on his composite art methods at VBs Learn and Earn Center in San Marcos, April 7-8, 2011. The workshop is titled Lifestyle Art Portraits.   Registration is now open.  Registration fee is $295 in advance $395 at the door (if seats are still available).  Registration includes two lunches.

If you are feeling depressed about the state of our industry, take a good look at how Richard Sturdevant is making things happen at his studio.  More importantly, see what you can apply to your own operation.

 Visit Virtual Backgrounds at WPPI
Booth #1650

Check Out the New
VB Express First Hand!

WPPI attendees will be able to see the new VB Express Virtual Backgrounds system in operation at the WPPI show in Las Vegas.  This will be your chance to see how the system works and learn how it can help your business grow, even in these difficult times.  In addition, Virtual Backgrounds will be an important part of the WPPI program being given by Florida Master Photographer, Rick Ferro.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Imaging USA Update
Big Awards Handed Out to
Virtual Backgrounds System Owners

Richard Sturdevant Earns the
PPA Grand Award and More!

This year PPA started the Grand Imaging Awards to recognize the best of the best in specific categories and then overall.  Richard Sturdevant was awarded the overall Grand Imaging Award for his image, The Legend of Brazos Texas Ranger.  This image is so powerful that it has won every competition in which it has been entered, both in 2009 and 2010.  The image proves that the old west still lives!

Richard is not new to receiving awards.  He also received the 1st place Grand Imaging Award in Illustrated, and the 3rd place in the Grand Imaging Electronic Imaging category.  He had three images in the top 10 for Electronic Imaging at the Grand Imaging Awards.  He also received the Bronze Medallion Award for the ASP and he also received his PPA Craftsman Degree.   Richard has received many, many other awards for his photography in Texas and beyond.  Much of Richard’s studio work is created with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.

Read more here about Richard Sturdevant's Success!

Lora Yeater's Big Day at Imaging USA!

Imaging USA was very special for West Virginia photographer, Lora Yeater.  In addition to receiving her Master's degree, she also got third place in the new Grand Imaging Awards with her composite image titled, Eternal Gift.  That’s third place with respect to all prints submitted for print competition!   Virtual Backgrounds is very proud to have played a role in this image as Lora started out with a Virtual Backgrounds produced background.  Eternal Gift was published in the PPA Loan Collection book and was in the Kodak Gallery Award Elite display.  The print scored a perfect 100. 

Virtual Backgrounds has been a key part of Lora’s photographic career.  She purchased her VB system shortly after she begin in professional photography and has consistently used it for much of her work that is done in her studio.   Virtual Backgrounds was used for a number of her award winning images.

Lora may be new to the profession but is not new to winning the professions highest awards. 

At the Mid-East Regional convention, her print, Eternal Gift scored 100 and was in the Kodak Gallery Award.  Lora was awarded the second place out of the top 10 photographers in the region.  At West Virginia Professional Photographer’s convention in 2010, she was named Photographer of the Year and received two Kodak Gallery Awards.  She was the West Virginia Photographer of the Year in 2008, received two Fuji awards, and has published in the Loan Collection book five times. 

Read more here about Lora Yeater's Success!

We Double Dog Dare You!

Come to a VB workshop to learn how to turn backgrounds into dollars.  You’ve been hearing about the attributes and advantages of Virtual Backgrounds for years.  Why don’t you take the time to find out the facts?  Don’t just believe anything we say.  Learn the facts for yourself.  Seeing is believing.  The price is only $295 for three days of this powerful workshop with Jim Wilson, Cr.Photog and Montana Master photographer, Trevon Baker.  It includes 3 lunches, a lots learning, and fun as well.  We guarantee it or your money back. 

Trevon Baker Scheduled to Conduct One Day Workshop Prior to WPPI in Las Vegas

Trevon Baker, Montana Master photographer, will be conducting a one day workshop in Las Vegas titled, “How To Take A Great Portrait.” Occurring the day before the opening of WPPI, this special workshop is designed for the new professional as well as for those who want to upgrade their skills to better compete in today’s marketplace.   A central theme to this workshop will be the four dimensions of a portrait:  lighting, posing, expression, and background.  By effectively combining these four elements the professional photographer can create images that other professionals and amateurs cannot create.  The cost of Trevon’s workshop is $99.

Click here for more information!

The Rebirth of Wallpaper

What Could This Possibly Mean
to the Professional Photographer?

Once upon time, wall paper was found on most walls in every home.  Then wall paper began to disappear.  For a while, wall paper almost completely disappeared from stores.  Many home owners were removing their wall paper and replacing it with plain texture which was considered more modern.  Wall paper was seen as old fashioned.  If you were a wall paper manufacturer, seller or hanger, you were experiencing a disaster.  Just when you thought that wallpaper was forever dead, it is now making a rebound and perhaps in a few years, it will be in vogue once again.  No one knows why wallpaper faded from glory but with new designs and new marketing it is making a return. 

What does this say for professional photography?  Basically, the rise and fall and rise again of wall paper represents trends that tend to come and go and come back again.  Right now, professional photography is on the down slide and hopefully nearing the bottom.  Will it start back up again like wall paper?  Hopefully it will as the public comes to recognize that there is more to photography than do it yourself snapshots.  It won’t happen unless professional photographers across the country push the advantages of professional portraiture.  In addition, they must produce quality work that is so good and so distinctively different, that it catches the eye of the public and once again begins to sell.

Yes, wall paper is making a comeback, but chances are the designs will indeed be different.  The same will be true for professional photography.  It can happen but it’s up to professional photographers and our associations to make it happen.  We must create new and exciting products such as composite art photography that stir public enthusiasm and willingness to open their wallets!

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.