June 2009 Issue

In this issue:

Ten Great Reasons to Use VB

Hunkering Down Can Be Fatal

VB Economic Stimulus Recovery
Package for Professional Photographers

Warning: The Picateers are Coming!

Featured Photographer: Paul Wingler

Trevon Baker Introduces Three New Background Sets

Special Introductory Pricing
until July 15, 2009

Montana photographer and Virtual Backgrounds instructor, Trevon Baker, has just released three entirely new background slide sets, ready for July delivery.  Each set contains 10 glass mounted, superslide background transparencies.  Trevon Baker #3 is titled New Masters.  Trevon Baker #4 is titled Textures.  Trevon Baker #5 is titled Street Scenes.

These backgrounds are distinctively different from all other Virtual Backgrounds slide sets and are ideally suited for this year’s seniors.  A special characteristic of Trevon’s background sets is that they include sample prints showing the backgrounds in use.

The new background sets are offered at a special introductory price that ends July 15, 2009.  Contact us to place your order.

Trevon Baker to Teach Portrait Photography Workshop

Montana photographer, Trevon Baker  has just agreed to teach a special portrait photography class September 17 and 18, immediately following the regular virtual backgrounds three day workshop on September 14, 15, 16.  Trevon teaches the second two days of the virtual backgrounds workshop and then will stay to conduct his special  portrait workshop.  It would be possible to attend both workshops that one week or register for either.  Call for further information.

How to Profit in Enchanted Photography – It’s So Much More Than Strapping Angel Wings on a Kid’s Back

Don’t ever think that just strapping a pair of angel wings on a subject is going to be your key to wealth!  It isn’t!  The public can now buy little angel wing sets at many retail stores for just a few dollars.  For a professional to make money in enchanted photography, it takes much more than ten bucks worth of wings.   It’s a total concept - subject, lighting, expression, posing, costumes, props, and the all important complementary background.  There is much to learn and this is the reason the Diane Wilson workshops at VB have gone from three to five days long.    However, if it were so simple as just sticking angel wings on the back of the child, then anyone could do it.  The public would not need you as the paid  professional photographer. 

Diane Wilson and Virtual Backgrounds present a comprehensive workshop to guide professional photographers into the highly profitable world of enchanted photography. Much of the future for professional photography is in serving select customers with special niches. These niches are types of photographic images that the public cannot do on their own, no matter what digital camera they may own.  This is exactly what is making Diane’s photography and methods so popular.

The next Diane Wilson Enchanted workshop will be September 28 – October 2, 2009.  The workshop is limited to only 12 attendees. Register now!

Virtual Backgrounds Attended the Texas Summer Seminar in Kerrville

Virtual Backgrounds exhibited their equipment at the Kerrville, Texas summer seminar attended by 250 photographers, mostly from Texas and Louisiana.  Ralph Romaguera and his wife Cindy were the key speakers.  Summer seminar is a fun event for families but also an important learning event. 

Dallas area photographer, Richard Sturdevant walked away with many of the awards, scoring a perfect 100 on two different print entries.  It is extremely rare for any photographer to score 100 on a competition print entry.  To score 100 on two entries in a single print competition is unheard of! Richard will be conducting programs at Virtual Backgrounds later this year. 

Cindy Cofer Speaks
at PMA in Georgia

Popular Williamstown, Kentucky photographer, Cindy Cofer was a principle speaker for the PMA chapter meeting in Georgia, talking about how to enhance studio portrait photography especially through the use of the Virtual Backgrounds system.  Cindy is an avid user of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.

Listen to a Radio Interview with VB founder Henry Oles and San Antonio Photographer Rick Harding

Want to know more about how Virtual Backgrounds can drive your business, even in these difficult times?  Listen to this rebroadcast of a WPIR radio interview conducted by Roger McManus with Henry Oles, VB founder and president and San Antonio photographer, Rick Harding, discussing the ins and outs about the Virtual Backgrounds process and how it can be used to help studios grow by enabling photographers to create unique products that the amateurs cannot duplicate on their own.  Rick Harding owns eight Virtual Backgrounds systems specializing in school and prom photography.

Click here to listen to the interview.

It’s all About the Money

Image by Dave Filler

You can talk all you want about enhancing your creative spirit, about the phenomenal whatever that you are going to capture, about your newest camera or lens, and about your special training, but in the end, the bottom line is all about the money. 

If you need to make money with photography, then you need to go about it in ways that make the money.  If you are shooting to make money like a regular business and don’t make a profit, then you might as well be a hobbyist photographer.  Professional photographers need to make money to support themselves and their family and to pay for the basic needs of the company.  The bottom line is the true test of the success or failure of the business.  Hobbyists do not have to worry about profit.

Image by Dave Filler

Diane Wilson Attracts Photographers from

Around the World

Hong Kong, China; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Red Deer, Alberta, Canada were just three of the locations of photographers who flew to Texas for the June Diane Wilson enchanted photography workshop.  Much of the future for professional photography is in serving select customers with special niches and those who appreciate this fact will come from the other side of the world to learn. 

These niches are types of photographic images that the public cannot do on their own, no matter what digital camera they may own.  This is exactly what is making Diane’s photography and methods so popular.

The next Diane Wilson Enchanted workshop will be September 28 – October 2, 2009.  Register now! Only 12 are allowed in each workshop to enable maximum hands on experience.  Every participant gets numerous files that were created in the class with models that they can use to start their portfolio as they launch their enchanted photography adventure.

What’s Your Plan?

When we ask this question of the many photographers we talk to daily, the answer we often get is stunning.  Total silence!  We get silence because suddenly the person we are talking to realizes that they have no plan and they realize that that isn’t good. 

Everyone knows we are all experiencing a major economic problem.  Professional photographers also have to deal with the digital revolution which we have called The Perfect Storm.  Together, the economy and the storm are devastating to most of us, but we all know that.   However, in order to survive and eventually prosper, we have to have a plan on how we are going to get through the storm and the economic recession.  Without a plan, we are doomed.  With a plan we can plot a course and know how it is going.

Preparing a plan takes time and thought and it probably will not be a perfect plan all the way through.  This is why it is so necessary for us to put a plan down on paper and be able to periodically refer to it and alter it as needed.  Don’t just daydream a plan that you keep up in your head.  Write it down and keep it in a safe place.  The process of transposing your thoughts to paper forces you to better organize them compared with just leaving them in your head - and you can refer to them like a chart to see how you are doing.

Marathon Press Offers
Special Enchanted Photography Ad Mailers

Working in conjunction with Toronto, Canada photographer, Diane Wilson, Marathon Press has available special 5 ½ x 8 ½ color postcards that photographers can mail out to their clients.  The cards are available with Diane’s sample images in place or you can submit your own images to be added to the card.  In either case, you can include your own specific printed message.  It is a great way to start spreading the word to your customers that you are offering or about to offer the very popular enchanted or fantasy photography concept in your area.  It is possible to start by using Diane’s images and then switch to your own images as you build your portfolio.

All you have to do is upload your own images to create the card and provide your text.  This can be done electronically once you have registered with Marathon Press.  Marathon Press can even mail the finished cards out for you.

The price of the cards is $.76 each for the first 25, $.56 each for 250 and $.52 each for 500.  The price per card continues to drop as the quantity goes up.

To talk to a live consultant at Marathon Press, call 1-800-228-0629.

July and August
Virtual Backgrounds

Last Chance to Save $345

Virtual Backgrounds is such a phenomenal money making business changing tool that many photographers just refuse to believe it can actually be true.  The very best way to determine the legitimacy of our statements about virtual backgrounds is to come to learn and to try it for yourself.  We challenge you to show us where we are wrong!

The July workshop is July 13-15, 2009, and has the added advantage of immediately preceding the Rick and Deborah Ferro workshop (Making Money the Ferro Way, July 16-17, 2009).  You can attend either or both workshops with the maximum savings coming from attending both. 

The August Virtual Backgrounds workshop is August 10-12, 2009.

The regular price for the VB workshop is $495 but for July and August, it has been reduced to just $150.  That’s a $345 savings off of the regular price!

Contact us to register or for additional information.

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!

Ten Great Reasons to Use
Virtual Backgrounds

  1. Be truly different.  I don’t want to be like every other photographer.  I want my customers to see me as different and to come to me for that reason.  I want to customize my photography for my customers.  I don’t want to be “cookie cutter."

  2. Be maximally creative.  I get so bored with regular everyday photography.  By having a Virtual Backgrounds system, I can be infinitely creative.  I never run out of new creative ideas when I can integrate the background with my lighting, posing, and expression.

  3. Be in total control.  With Virtual Backgrounds I am indeed in total control of all the variables - the environment, the lighting, the wind, and the other people in the area. In addition, I control all parts of the background including its proportional size, position, brightness, focus and color balance.

  4. Offer infinite variety to your clients.  By changing backgrounds in just seconds, I can offer my clients so much more variety in the images I capture but still be time efficient.

  5. Earn maximum profit with less effort.  More variety means more sales and increased potential for selling larger wall portraits.  Virtual Backgrounds clearly enhances profits.

  6. Further separate yourself from the amateurs.  Many people feel they don’t need to hire a professional photographer because they can make “good enough Images” themselves.  But, with Virtual Backgrounds, I can produce images they clearly want but cannot do themselves.

  7. Don't be chained to your computer. Be the photographer!  With Virtual Backgrounds, there is no computer, no software, no pasting in and making corrections later.  It’s all done live in the camera. Show your client the results instantly!

  8. Make the best possible investments.  Virtual Backgrounds can be your best investment with maximum ROI.  It clearly integrates into your total operation and can become a key component in your marketing.  VB helps with the financing.

  9. Work in minimal space or on location without lugging around backdrops and props and not having any place to store them.  Canvas backgrounds, muslins, and sets are expensive, limiting, and take up an enormous amount of space.

  10. Be known as the photographer with the latest and the greatest. With Virtual Backgrounds you are able to customize every photograph for the individual client.  Most photographers use the one size fits all concepts.  People today want to be individualized.
Virtual Backgrounds is the most powerful accessory tool you can use to enhance your marketing and your photography leading to significant new profits.  Ask a Virtual Backgrounds owner or better yet, come to a VB workshop and see for yourself while you learn all the details.  Seeing is believing.  Once you use Virtual Backgrounds, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it earlier.

Hunkering Down Can Be Fatal

Because of the Perfect Storm created primarily by the digital revolution and the economic recession, many professional photographers are hunkering down - waiting for the storm to pass.  We see this in many ways including reduced advertising, minimizing or eliminating attending workshops and programs, moving the studio to a cheaper location, and a lot of obvious psychological depression.  But is this the right way to go?  Ask any business management specialist and they will tell you that while it is really important to watch the dollars, it is also important to do more effective advertising, to invest in new technology, and to attend training programs that will provide information that can be directly applied to building the business even in these difficult times.  Hunkering down, putting the brakes on everything, can lead to a fatality - yours!

The fact is, most photographers are putting too much blame on the economic recession and forgetting that the real problem is the digital revolution - all the things that are discussed in the book, The Professional Photographer’s Perfect Storm.  When the economy gets better, and it will, the Perfect Storm is still going to be there.  Digital cameras will never go away.  If you haven’t made plans for dealing with the basic storm after the economy comes back, the storm may well have washed away your foundation.  Now is the time to fight the storm directly. The absolute necessity is improving your skills and the technology you use to produce product that the public wants but cannot do on their own.  And then you have to promote your uniqueness in cost effective ways.  This is not the end of the line for every photographer - only for some.  Now is the time to prepare for tomorrow.

VB Economic Stimulus Recovery Package for Professional Photographers

Image by Rick Avalos

In response to a growing number of professional photographers who are experiencing financial challenges, Virtual Backgrounds has put together an economic stimulus recovery package to assist photographers with acquiring the most powerful tool to enhance studio photography in ways the amateurs and low level professionals cannot do.

The package consists of three parts:
  • Credit
  • Equipment
  • Training and Support

Credit:  Most photographers today, like most businesses, are finding it difficult or impossible to get credit from their banks or from leasing companies, even after extensive credit investigations.  Virtual Backgrounds offers its own in-house credit program which involves a very simple application, and no interest.  It’s not a trick.  It is our way of helping photographers acquire the tools they most need to fight the storm and the economy.  It’s the VB 50/50 plan which is available to nearly any professional photographer in the US, Canada, and Mexico.  VB president, Henry Oles, states, “We would not offer this 50/50 plan if we did not have confidence that professional photographers who acquire our equipment and who use our recommended methods will significantly increase their business so they can easily make their payments and prosper with the extra profits they will generate.

Equipment:  VB is the manufacturer and supplier of what many system owners call the most valuable investment they ever made in terms of keeping them in business and growing.  A Virtual Backgrounds system brings the photographer new magic that attracts clients and helps to provide them with infinite variety, making their session different, and resulting in significantly higher sales averages.  VB has a generous trade up program so a photographer on a super tight budget can start with a minimal investment and then acquire a more sophisticated system.  The VB system is totally optical.  It does not use computers, it uses no software, there is no pasting in of backgrounds, and most important, no extra time is invested.  Images can be shown to the customer instantly.  Many photographers even pay their equipment off early.

Training and Support:  VB is known throughout the industry as offering one of the most comprehensive training and support programs including videos, CDs, DVDs, three-day training workshops, and follow up support.  With a growing number of photographers buying equipment on VB’s 50/50 credit plan, it is obviously in the best interest of Virtual Backgrounds to do everything possible to insure their client’s success.

VB founder and president, Henry Oles, summarizes his business philosophy by stating, “You can let things happen to you or you can make things happen for you.  At Virtual Backgrounds we are doing everything possible to help our clients make things happen for them.  Sitting around waiting for something to happen won’t work.  Sitting and waiting leads to extinction.  Fortunately there are things the professional can do to generate new business and profits”

Contact us for more information about the VB lease program.

Warning: The Picateers Are Coming!

It had to happen.  In fact, it is surprising that it has taken so long to happen.  The Picateers are coming - perhaps to a town near you or even to your own community. 

What are the Picateers and how might they affect you?   A California group has received millions of dollars in venture capital to develop a new concept in photography.  They hook up with school principals and superintendants and have them pick parents who are photo enthusiasts to do the school pictures - preschool, elementary, and high school including seniors.  The volunteer photographer is not paid anything.   Orders are taken off the Internet and the school gets 50 percent of the sales.  Laugh a bit and say impossible or it won’t work,  but they claim to have already served 1000 schools.   The program also has some very minimal training so the photographer can become a Picateer Certified Photographer.  Once certified, the photographer can make 10% of the sale.

A concept like Picateers makes it all the more important for VB customers to make their Scene Machine a central point in their offering to school authorities.  Amateur shutterbugs do not have Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds systems.  They are shutterbugs that snap pictures.  If a Picateer takes a school deal away from you, you simply are not doing things right.  With your talent, your experience, and your creative use of the Scene Machine, you should not ever lose a deal to any national company and certainly not to Picateers.  More and more lower-end photographers are moving to green screen to introduce backgrounds.  Here again, Virtual Backgrounds is a far better way to create professional results as opposed to gimmicks.  Some photographers are even hearing from their customers that they don’t want fake looking green screen.  Virtual Backgrounds is the professional choice. Certified Picateers may eventually find their way into offering green screen, but it is highly unlikely  that any Picateer will use Virtual Backgrounds. 

The  Picateers existence teaches us one thing for sure:  Professional photographers have to work harder than ever to produce unique professional results that are miles beyond anything a Picateer can do.  Otherwise they will be picked off by a Picateer!

To get the full story on the Picateers concept, go to www.picateers.com.

Featured Photographer: Paul Wingler

Marine, Muscian, and Professional Photographer

Paul Wingler

Like so many professional photographers, Paul Wingler never started out to be a photographer.  Initially he was a US Marine and became a member of the Camp LeJune Marine Corp band playing percussion and keyboard.  He then managed a repair facility for musical instruments while his interest in photography began to stir.   Paul attended the Durham Arts Council photography program which led to moving into full time photography 15 years ago.  Paul built a garage on to his home but from the beginning, it was designed to actually be his studio.  He operates by appointment only with no identifying signage. 

Schools have always been an important component of Paul’s business.  Several years ago he decided that he needed to enhance his school work, offering a more creative edge, to better service his customers and separate him from other school photographers including the national chains.  His weddings were down so he decided to place more emphasis on schools and portraits.   He ordered a Scene Machine virtual background system with an 8 x 9 wide screen and immediately attended the virtual background’s 3 day training course in Texas.   Paul explains, “I wanted to do it right, right from the beginning.  I wanted to be comfortable with the system and get maximum advantage from using it.”  Today Paul uses his Virtual Backgrounds system on nearly every job.

Quoting Paul about his early experience with the Scene Machine, “Customer reaction was immediately very positive.  My first job with the Scene Machine was a homecoming dance and we photographed the court of 24 kids.  In the past, we had just ok sales but with the Scene Machine, the kids freaked.  They loved it.  They couldn’t believe how we produced the backgrounds.  One parent kept hanging around watching me and when there was a break, he asked me a bunch of questions about how the process worked.  Then he explained that he was a preacher and asked if it might be possible for me to use this system to do his next church directory.  He said that past directories were boring.   One thing led to another and I’ll be photographing his church directory later this summer.  It all started with his fascination with the Scene Machine.  Of course I’ll be using the Scene Machine.  And, the sales for the homecoming court were 115 percent higher with the Scene Machine than what they were the previous year!”

“The Scene Machine paid for itself very quickly and based on my experience, I would recommend it to most anyone and everyone.  I’ve now taken the VB workshop twice.  I wanted to come back when Trevon Baker started teaching the second two days.  I learned a great deal both times.”

Paul continued by saying, “Let me tell you a few more things.  VB customer service is absolutely great.  I was at a school at 7:30 a.m. getting ready and discovered that my Scene Machine would not flash.  I panicked.  I called Virtual Backgrounds and when it was determined that there was a problem that could not be fixed on site, they felt my panic and promised me immediate response.  At 7:40 the next morning, I had a replacement power supply and in minutes I was in business.  I couldn’t believe how great their customer service is but I guess that comes from key VB staff members being photographers themselves.  They understand.”

“Let me also tell you about something really funny.  I use to lose a lot of sales because parents and others would shoot over my shoulder as soon as I prepared a pose and that often meant I lost a sale because their digital cameras are so good.   Now, with the Scene Machine, I don’t mind if they shoot over my shoulder all they want because their flash blows out their image no matter what they do.  I love to watch their bewilderment as they look at their LCD screen and can hardly even see the subjects floating in a sea of white background!  If they want the photograph, they have to buy it from me.  I love it.”

Then at the end of the interview, Paul became more philosophical about the role of the professional photographer in today’s world.   “Professional photographers have to really work at separating ourselves.  With the digital revolution, everyone is the same.  We must develop our own style that is different.   Unless we offer the public something really special, it will come down to just the dollar - who is the cheapest.  That is the only thing that will matter.  I do not want to be part of that.  I want to be the most different and do things no one else can do.   Plus it is just plain fun to be different.  I love shooting my own background images and I get a tax deduction for the trip expenses.  My excursions become tax deductions!”

“I like to help others because it is our responsibility as professionals to help raise the quality of all professional photographers.  This Scene Machine tool gives us another edge over those who are not serious about photography - those who just want to do whatever.  We are able to do so much more because we have the tools - we have total control - and the results speak for themselves.  It is my fundamental belief that givers gain.” 

“I work with Marathon Press to prepare my church directories.  They were not use to seeing directories where every photograph was different with different backgrounds and different poses but they soon got use to it.  My church directory average sale is well above what the average is.”

“My Scene Machine brings fun to my photography.  It gives me new energy.  It brings me passion that I was losing.  It helps me recognize why I went into photography in the first place.  Every sitting is a new and different experience.  The cookie cutter is gone.  Recently I had a fine arts student come in for a portrait.  We made a background out of her fine art work and she absolutely loved it.  It was so personalized.”

“VB has treated me exceptionally well from the very beginning.  I knew I needed the system but it was a big step financially.  Maria, my VB consultant, didn’t push me one bit.   She walked me through the options but never pushed me to buy.  There was no pressure.  It reflects the attitude of the whole -company.  I really appreciate their non-pushy approach.   They seem to be equally as concerned about their customer’s bottom line as they are about their own bottom line.  You don’t see that attitude and customer service much anymore today.”

Paul is a clear reason why we at VB enjoy our work - helping photographers like Paul have more fun, be more creative, and make more profit.   Paul perfectly fits our new company motto:  Helping photographers to enhance their careers!

Space Still Available for the July Virtual Backgrounds Workshop and Rick & Deborah Ferro Workshop

Save $395

Two exciting educational workshops are taking place in one week at VB!  Monday-Wednesday, July 13-15, 2009, is the three-day Virtual Backgrounds workshop conducted by Trevon Baker, Cr.Photog. M. Photographer and Jim Wilson, Cr.Photog.  This is followed by the Thursday and Friday, July 16-17, 2009, Making Money the Ferro Way, presented by world famous photographers Rick and Deborah Ferro.

Click here for all of the details!

[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.