July 2008 Issue

In this issue:

How Virtual Backgrounds Can
Work for You

Rick and Deborah Ferro Workshop
Scheduled in September 2008

National Ad for Photogenic Features
Simone Image Captured Using
the Scene Machine

Diane Wilson Hits a Home Run
Her First Time at Bat!

Featured Photographers:
John and Teresa Chandler

Senior 2009 Backgrounds

Senior 2009 slide sets are selling like hotcakes and if you haven't already, you need to get your hands on this specialty set! Each year Virtual Backgrounds develops a new set of special Senior backgrounds.  If you are doing senior photography or want to do senior photography, these backgrounds are a must!  They provide you with an opportunity to present your work as contemporary and always changing to fit the tastes of today’s more demanding clients.

Senior backgrounds add a special something to your senior portrait photography.  Seniors and parents alike will rant and rave about them, making others flock to you for their senior portraits! Contact your consultant at Virtual Backgrounds today to order your set of Senior 2009 backgrounds!

Don't be Ordinary
Be Extraordinary!

Image by Jessica Laredo

To be really special these days you have to offer distinctively unique products that your clientele will desire.

Everyone wants something special whether they are buying a new dress, a new pair of shoes, a new house, or even photographs.  He who offers the latest and the greatest is most likely to get the business and the big bucks.

Don’t be ordinary. Be extraordinary!  That is what Virtual Backgrounds is all about.  It is a tool which enables you to be special.  It offers unique and exciting new products to your clients. 

Each day think to yourself, “How can I do something really special today for my clients?”  Being ordinary is boring.  You must separate yourself from the masses and especially from the amateur. It's the only way to survive! You can do it!

VB Mail from Nigerian Photographer,
Gabriel Olude
(Part Two)

Dear Sir,

I am amazed at such technology.  Everyday, I dream about Virtual Backgrounds.  I have told quite a number of my colleagues about it.  Some are extremely impressed. In fact one of them told me, “Let us hide this." He was thinking of how he could get the ultimate advantage. I had to tell him that there are blessings in sharing.

Some on the other hand are blinded to the reality of the wonders of Virtual Backgrounds. Maybe it is because they are still quite successful.  What they don't realize is that the “cheese” has moved (referencing the book entitled Background Power! by Dr. Henry Oles).  One day, they will wake up to that reality. Hopefully by then, the VB society in Nigeria will be on top of things.

It is like the Bible says, "Precious things are hidden from the wise and revealed to babes or those considered simple."  I am happy to have found out about VB in Rangefinder magazine.  A friend brought them down to Nigeria, and that was how the love story began between me and VB.

I happened to catch a glimpse of your book, Background Power!  I must say that the book is exactly as I thought it would be. FANTASTIC - AWESOME! I really enjoyed the two parallel lines test and the powerful cartoon of the king who wouldn't buy the machine gun that would have helped him win the battle. That's how most of my guys over here are.  When I showed that cartoon to one photographer who was giving all reasons why he couldn't buy the VB system, he was silent and speechless.

I get inspired by just viewing your website.  I have read the Perfect Storm more than 5 times and have viewed the DVD uncountable number of times!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Contact us today to receive your free copy of the Perfect Storm!

Buying Used Virtual Backgrounds Systems on
eBay or Elsewhere

Occasionally we see a Virtual Backgrounds system, with or without a background screen, listed for sale on eBay or in other online stores.  Sometimes you might find a good deal, but more times than none, you are likely to have problems.  We have found that a lot of factory refurbishment has been necessary to bring these eBay systems back to good working condition.

There are several important factors to consider when purchasing a used Virtual Backgrounds system.  The very first Virtual Backgrounds systems were made 25 years ago.  While even the earliest systems still work, there have been a long series of technological improvements to both the projector and the screen.  In addition, until just a few years ago, all projectors were designed for use with large format film cameras like the RB67 and not for today’s much smaller digital cameras.  Old machines can work with digital cameras but they normally need a special camera rotator that can cost $600.  Used projectors may have also been subject to various levels of abuse which can make it impossible to bring the machine into proper alignment.  Only factory refurbishment can fix the machine.

There have been numerous and significant improvements to the screen technology including recent improvements to the Blackscreen.  Today’s screens have a great deal more washout resistance and the seam lines are essentially invisible.  Old screens can have visible horizontal seam lines, scratches, and stains from mishandling.  The oldest screens were made with two foot wide strips of reflective material as opposed to the four foot strips used today.  The Blackscreen can also be mishandled and left with permanent wrinkles.  We have seen screens and Blackscreens that are worth nothing.

We recently observed a Scene Machine system on sale on eBay which sold for a surprisingly high price.   The system was more than 20 years old.  Only the outside packing container for the screen was shown.  The actual screen itself was not even shown.  You just had to assume that some screen in some condition was inside the cardboard shipping tube!  The Blackscreen was shown folded up in a small box.  Blackscreens should never be folded!  Unfortunately, the new owner may not even know that they got a bad deal because when they begin to use the system, they will not know what it should have been like.

Let the buyer beware: Be careful when purchasing machines from online stores! On a more positive note and in the interest of serving all system owners, Virtual Backgrounds does provide refurbishment services on units that aren't too damaged.  Contact your consultant at Virtual Backgrounds for further information on refurbishment. 

Coming Soon: Slide Storage and Viewing Cabinets

Many Virtual Backgrounds system users have hundreds of backgrounds, but they don’t have a good way to store those backgrounds for easy viewing and retrieval.  Virtual Backgrounds will fix that problem with the reintroduction of a product we have not made for a while.  The prototype has been approved and manufacturing has begun.  More details to follow in next month's issue of The Backgrounder.

How May We Help You?

Virtual Backgrounds is dedicated to customer assistance.  We are here to help you become more successful and profitable through your use of the Virtual Backgrounds process.  If you are thinking about Virtual Backgrounds, you undoubtedly have many questions. Contact us!  Ask anything you wish and we’ll give you straight answers. 

If you are an owner of a Virtual Backgrounds system and are in need of troubleshooting or fresh ideas, contact us.  Let us help you with any issues you may have or help with new profit-making ideas. 

This is why we publish The Backgrounder every month.  We are anxious to share with photographers around the world the good news about Virtual Backgrounds.  We are anxious to share the success stories of our customers to help you take full advantage of the powerful benefits that come with using Virtual Backgrounds.

If you have a question or if you need help, let us help you!  The company was founded by Dr. Henry Oles, a former teacher, university professor and lifelong professional photographer. The fundamental philosophy of Virtual Backgrounds is to further educate professional photographers everywhere and help you fight the professional photographer’s perfect storm.  We can help you not only survive the storm but also flourish in its midst.

Cindy Cofer Speaks for VB and San Antonio Professional Photographers Guild

Pictured above: Vernon Wentz, President of
the PP Guild of SA, and Cindy Cofer

Williamstown, Kentucky photographer, Cindy Cofer was the feature speaker for the July Virtual Backgrounds workshop held in San Marcos.  Then, that same evening, Cindy was the speaker for the Professional Photographers Guild of San Antonio.

Cindy spoke in both cases about her thriving studio operation in small town Kentucky and her use of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  Although she has been in business for only a few years, Cindy draws customers of all ages from a broad area to experience her unique style of work.  She accentuated her program with hundreds of sample images covering everything from infants to the elderly, singles to families, and much, much more.

Cindy ended her program stating, “Without my Scene Machine, I probably would not be in business today.”  After the San Antonio program, Cindy returned to San Marcos to help Diane Wilson with her two day program on fantasy theme photography. Great job Cindy!

You May Have Been Deleted!

A number of photographers have been deleted from receiving The Backgrounder because they have supposedly asked to opt out; however, when we communicate with some of these people they tell us that this is not the case at all! They were even wondering why they no longer receive The Backgrounder.

So, if you notice in the future that you are not receiving The Backgrounder every month, contact us and we’ll be glad to add you to the list again.  We will be sending old-fashioned snail mail to those who have mistakenly opted out in case there was an error.

Coming Soon:
VB Print Competition

Image by Jessica Laredo

The long anticipated return of the Virtual Backgrounds Project Your Best Image photo contest is finally going to happen.  Virtual Backgrounds is scheduling the 2008 competition with thousands of dollars in prizes.  The competition will take place before the end of this year.

Full details will be published starting in the August edition of The Backgrounder.  The purpose of the competition is to encourage Virtual Backgrounds system owners to stretch their imaginations and produce the best possible and most creative images. These images will be shared with thousands of photographers around the world.  Prizes for the winning photographers will have thousands of dollars in value.

It is planned that every entrant will receive special valuable coupons from sponsors making it a competition where everyone comes out ahead.  Now is the time to start gathering your best images created with your Scene Machine.  All submitted prints must be 8 x 10 inches.  All attention in judging will go to the image and how it integrates with the background.

Image by Cindy Cofer

Image by Carrell Grigsby

Image by Dave Filler

Image by Jessica Laredo

Virtual Backgrounds
August Workshop

Workshops are not only for system owners, but they are also for those who are thinking about it and want to get more details to feel comfortable that they are making the right decision.

We are a teaching company and we are eager to spread the word about Virtual Backgrounds to each and every one of you!

Consider attending an upcoming workshop! You will be glad that you did!

July 2008 Workshop Attendees

Last Call to Make
$1000 per Hour!

Make $1000 Per Hour doing School Photography! This is the last call to register for the 2008 School Photography Boot Camps.  The last program of 2008 is scheduled for August 4 - 8, 2008, in Dallas, Texas. Don't miss it!

If you currently have any underclass business booked for this season and need to know the "best-practices" of the industry to service accounts professionally, this is the ONLY workshop of its' type to learn how to do it right. If you are just getting started, you're also in luck.  Late Summer and early Fall is the best time to prospect for new business in 2009 and you'll learn the best ways to take it from your competition and get schools to sign with you.

Do you have questions on high-volume photography techniques and software for high-speed workflow? We've got you covered with live demonstrations from Express Digital and PhotoLynx.

Want to see Virtual Backgrounds technology demonstrated with live models in a simulated school setting? We've got that, too!

Need Crop-lines installed on your Digital camera?  We'll have a technician on site to do it at a special discounted price.

Click here for complete information!

Call the Instructor, Chris Wunder, directly at 704-763-0409 for registrations this week only and to see if you qualify for a special discount. Sorry, no registrations at the door. 

See you there!

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!

How Virtual Backgrounds
Can Work for You

Image by Lora Yeater. Click here to see more of her work.

Virtual Backgrounds is indeed the most powerful tool you can purchase to enhance your studio operations and upgrade your profits.  This is a very powerful statement but it is absolutely true.  The proof is clear.

Virtual Backgrounds enables you to do the following:
  • dramatically increase your creativity;
  • be truly different from other photographers;
  • provide much more variety in a single sitting;
  • customize your backgrounds to your clients;
  • stop spending money on other kinds of old fashioned backgrounds such as canvas or muslin or sets;
  • capture your own backgrounds anywhere you go;
  • work faster, without leaving your studio and have more fun; and
  • attract more clients and earn a greater profit.
Even in these difficult times for professional photographers, you can be so much more successful! The evidence is clear for those who are flexible and willing to objectively look at new ideas and also willing to learn new methods.

If you don’t have a Virtual Backgrounds system, now is the time to investigate this technology and what it will do for your studio.  If you already own a Virtual Backgrounds system, dedicate this year as the one where you will learn to more fully use it to enhance your operation.  There are no limits to your creative imagination if you just put it to work.

There simply is no other tool that can do so much for the professional portrait photographer.

Rick and Deborah Ferro Workshop Scheduled in September 2008

Rick and Deborah Ferro will conduct a three-day workshop at Virtual Backgrounds September 17-19, 2008, at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn center in San Marcos, Texas.  They will have just completed their 21 city tour where they presented comprehensive four hour programs.  This is a must-attend workshop for those who really want to learn much more from this highly successful couple.

Enrollment is limited. Contact your Virtual Backgrounds representative to reserve your seat in this phenomenal workshop today!

National Ad for Photogenic Features
Simone Image Captured

Using the Scene Machine

Photogenic, a world leader in studio lighting, has selected a portrait taken by Joseph and Louise Simone at a recent week long workshop to promote their PowerLight product. The Simones, who are world famous photographers, teach a very popular week long class at Virtual Backgrounds at least once a year.  Virtual Backgrounds is very much a key part of their workshops and their success!

Diane Wilson Hits a Home Run
her First Time at Bat

Toronto flea market theme photographer, Diane Wilson, hit a home run with her very first workshop held at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn center last week.  Twenty-one photographers from around the country attended the two-day workshop that introduced them to the new world of fantasy or themed portrait photography. Although theme photos such as Old West photography has been around for a long time, Diane has taken theme photography to a whole new level.

Diane demonstrated her unique methods to obtain incredible image variety along with her post production techniques to further refine her work.  The workshop included numerous shoots with young models and a lot of hands-on experience for everyone in the workshop.  Images were instantly displayed and each workshop participant took home a portfolio of images.  $3000 in sponsor prizes were given out to participants.

Diane’s methods rely on her use of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system as her primary means to offer her unlimited background variety with a bare minimum of space.  Diane’s studio is a 15 x 18 foot area in Toronto’s indoor flea market. Space is at an absolute premium, yet Diane is able to photograph even families full length.  Although her initial sitting and package charge is moderate, her total sale with each customer is surprisingly high. In addition, many of Diane’s customers return again and again for different fantasies.  Next month in The Backgrounder, we will present an extensive display of the photographs that were taken at this workshop.

The workshop is designed to make it easy for the forward-thinking photographer to get started doing theme photography.  She is creating a variety of sets of highly artistic background images which include beaches, winter wonderland, wooded landscapes and country cottages.  An important key to success is including maximum background and posing variety.

Dr. Henry Oles, VB founder and president, concluded the workshop by saying, “Diane Wilson’s methods represent a whole new phenomenal business and profit opportunity for the entrepreneurial-minded photographer - it is one of the strongest concepts I have seen in years.”  Diane’s website is www.untildawn.com.

Diane was assisted by Kentucky photographer, Cindy Cofer.  Cindy was in San Marcos to be the guest speaker for the Virtual Backgrounds workshop that ended just before Diane’s workshop began.  Cindy also was the featured speaker for the San Antonio Professional photographer’s Guild program on Wednesday evening.  Cindy talked about the incredible variety she is able to offer her customers in her “one stop light” town, Williamstown,  through the use of her imagination and her Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  Special assistance was received from Ashley Nostalgia, American Photographic Resources (APR), and Enchanted Costumes.

Featured Photographers
John & Teresa

Virtual Backgrounds has raised the level of our studio.  Since we came to your facility to get our Scene Machine and attend the Simone workshop, conservatively speaking, we have tripled our income.

-John and Teresa Chandler

John and Teresa Chandler were both U.S. Marines.  They met in Japan and were married 31 years ago in Hawaii. Teresa was a budding professional artist.  John was into scuba and as a side job became an underwater photographer.  He published three books, one of which is called A Divers Scrapbook - The Underworld World Of Okinawa which is actively selling.  He is published in many magazines, had his own TV show, and had a weekly article on underwater photography in a Japanese newspaper.  John also spent a great deal of time in the base photo lab and learned from the resident photo pro.  This is where he began learning portrait photography, from outstanding masters in Japan.  Teresa did portrait oils that made her very popular in the area as well.

The Chandlers retired but chose to remain in Okinawa until September11th where they began to get homesick for their kids and moved back to North Carolina to live in an 108 year old home.  Suddenly, they had very little to do, so they came up with the idea of opening a portrait studio in their little town of Richlands, North Carolina. The population of Richlands is only 950 but there are 150,000 in the surrounding areas.  They chose to remodel a 2400 sq foot tobacco pack house (tobacco warehouse) in their back yard and turn it into a portrait studio. Starting with weddings, they officially opened their portrait studio in March 2003.

Teresa set down her brushes to become the official poser and John took care of the technical side and shot each photograph.   The Chandlers quickly learned something critical to their future in professional photography.  They came to realize that their real competition was not only other photographers, but also the general public. Their potential customers were quickly becoming their competition because they were taking their own portraits.  The Chandlers realized that they absolutely had to do something different or not survive.  Since everyone has canvas and muslin backgrounds, including many amateurs, and since amateurs had as much right to photograph in the parks as they did, the Chandlers decided to look for ways to leap far ahead of other photographers and the public.

They discovered the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and decided that it was clearly the way to go if they were to separate their work from that of other photographers and definitely from the amateurs.  Their goal was to be significantly different!

John states, “When you buy a Scene Machine, you commit to a higher standard of photography.  When you buy a canvas background, you commit to just spending more money, and you are just being static.  Everyone has canvas and muslin backgrounds.  Canvas just hangs there and does nothing. The Scene Machine is dynamic.”

The Chandlers drove to San Marcos, Texas not only to pick up their Virtual Backgrounds system but also to attend a 5 day Joseph and Louise Simone class.  The Simone class was way beyond their expectations, and it taught them how to take their portrait work to a much higher level through classic lighting, posing and the use of the Scene Machine.  In a way, John sees himself playing the role of Joseph Simone, and Teresa pretty much plays the role of Louise.  They nearly always work together in their studio.  John feels that the Simones have been their guiding light.

“You can do so much with Virtual Backgrounds, if you want to.  It doesn’t just roll down.  It isn’t green screen with all its limitations.  Our customers love Virtual Backgrounds; they love getting involved in the creativity of the portraiture.  That is a key item that has increased our sales.  We involve the customer in every background selection.  They are right there to view their results.  VB really helps to bring in the customer and their family.  They all love it and really get a kick out of it!”

John continues by stating, “I don’t understand photographers who aren’t interested in Virtual Backgrounds.  They just don’t get it.  I put them in the same category as all those photographers who would not look at digital cameras for the longest time.  When a photographer invests in more canvas, he is investing in antiquity.  It just hangs there.  It’s not going to change.  It takes up room.  I have over 80 backgrounds and 2 Simone Collections and they are all in a little notebook!"

“There are some photographers who see the Scene Machine as a bridge too far.  I think that is wrong.  It really narrows the gap and it provides the photographer with infinity.”

When we asked John Chandler how the perfect storm is affecting the Chandler Studio, John responds, “It isn’t affecting us because we understand it.  If we didn’t understand it, we would not be in business.  We have to do something the moms can’t do.  That is what the Scene Machine does for us.  If I were not doing things different, I would not be in business.”

John also has very strong feelings about having a formal dedicated studio.  “Moms don’t have studios; they shoot outdoors in the same places many professionals shoot.   I have to be different and the Scene Machine and the studio set me apart.”

“You guys have raised the level of our studio.  Conservatively speaking, you have tripled our income.  One last thing I want to say - some of the best stuff you guys have is your customer service.  Carolyn and Jim are so helpful; I enjoy working with professionals.  It’s comforting.”

Virtual Backgrounds exists because of customers like John and Teresa.  They take our product and build their studio and bottom line around it.  They gladly share their feelings with other photographers.  Virtual Backgrounds salutes the Chandlers!

Click here to see many more of the Chandler's images all captured using their Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds System!!

Click here to be directed to John & Teresa Chandler's Portrait Studio website!

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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