June 2010 Issue

In this issue:

New! Seven Piece Poser System: A Tool that Every Photographer Needs

Changing Trends in Backgrounds: VB has the Answer!

Learn How to Get into School Photography: Earn up to $1,000 an Hour!

Richard Sturdevant Does it Again: Another Print Score of 100!

Does Cheap Coincide with Professional

What Counts is the Experience and the Product



Space Still Available for Trevon Baker’s September Workshop! 



A rare opportunity to study with Trevon Baker at his Montana studio and experience a day in Glacier National park.

Trevon's June workshop is full, but there's still room in the September workshop.  Contact Trevon Baker for more information!

Myths and Reality

If you are really serious about making your work more creative and special while at the same time working faster and smarter, there is a host of opportunities for you to determine for yourself just how well Virtual Backgrounds will fit into your operation.  Start by reviewing our Web site at www.virtualbackgrounds.net.

Look at the Featured Photographer section and see what more than 30 photographers have to say in words and in photographs.  Read the FAQ section.  Call and talk to a VB consultant about your questions and reservations.  The ultimate thing to do is attend a VB workshop; immerse yourself for three days in the world of Virtual Backgrounds with Trevon Baker and Jim Wilson.  This workshop can change your career!

The information you need is right in front of you!  Look and see for yourself!  You can even test Virtual Backgrounds using your own camera!  You’ll be amazed!  The possibilities are endless!  Contact us now!

Fighting the Perfect Storm Down Under



Michael Warshall  owns Nulab in Melborne Australia, services primarily professional photographers in Australia and New Zealand but other parts of the world as well.  Everyone in professional photography in that part of the world knows Michael.  Michael has a problem.  If the studios he does printing for are not doing well, then his lab suffers so Michael has for years taken it upon himself to teach his customers how to be super successful, even these difficult times for professional photographers.  Besides being a lab owner, Michael is also a highly accomplished and successful photographer and a world renound expert on marketing.  He has a full portrait/commercial studio in his lab that is used for training.  He also conducts workshops across Australia and New Zealand, often bringing in some of the very best workshop leaders from the United States.

Michael is conducting three, three-day workshops this summer, one in July and two in August at his private facility which he calls “The Resort.”  Class size is limited to just six participants.  It’s an expensive program but expensive is a relative term if it indeed helps the participant to quickly earn back the cost of the class and much more.  Like us here at Virtual Backgrounds, Michael Warshall feels that it is still very possible to be highly profitable in professional photography but it only happens if the studio owner takes an entrepreneurial approach to the business of photography and offers highly creative and dynamic images that the public cannot do on their own.

Click here to learn more about Michael’s workshops.  It’s a perfect way to visit Australia grow your business as well.

Testimonials for Richard Sturdevant’s Composite Art Workshop

Richard Sturdevant’s next Composite Art workshop is scheduled for July 22-23, 2010.  Contact Virtual backgrounds for more information.

Shauna Gustavson (Alberta, Canada)

When I saw Richard Sturdevant's work, I knew I had to attend his workshop. I wanted something unique to offer my clients.  This opportunity exceeded my expectations!!! Richard is a great teacher and takes the time to make sure everyone has the tools needed to produce their own works of art.

Bill Hodge (California)

I have heard Sturdevant's program described as a Photoshop class. This is no more the case than saying attending Joseph and Louise Simone's portrait class teaches you how to use your camera.   Instead, what both of them teach is how to see, how to visualize, and create images of lasting beauty with the tools of our trade.  Richard's images are on the cutting edge of professional portraiture. His creations go beyond the single capture image into the realm of life stories. He creates a narrative that simply cannot be captured in a single image.  In your time with him, he'll share this gift.

VB Workshops


Image taken with VB's new Seven Piece Poser using Virtual Backgrounds

The three-day workshop is presented every month with Jim Wilson teaching the first day of technical information and Trevon Baker teaching the second and third days.  Trevon emphasizes implementation and application with hands-on experience.  He also covers basic portraiture and work flow.  Trevon operates Trevon Baker Photography near Kalispell Montana.

End the Insanity!



The Independent Collaborative Entrepreneurs (ICE) announced the publication of the new book Entrepreneurial Insanity for Professional Photographers to be published this summer.  Coinciding with this new publication is a two-day seminar titled “End the Insanity” to be held in six cities (Chicago, Portland, Houston, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh) from July through November.  Click here for details!

The book and the seminar deal with the challenges faced by business owners who are so wrapped up in running the business that they lose sight of the fact that the purpose of the business is to free the owner from working in it by structuring it so it produces income from the investment in building the business.  All too rare in the photography industry – but, an important and admirable goal.  ICE may be worth consideration by every professional photographer who typically builds a business that is totally dependent upon their personal efforts.

Did You Miss the May Edition of The Backgrounder?



The May edition of The Backgrounder had a variety of important articles including the lead article on our Ace in the Hole.  The article covers why quality professional photography will not die.  There will always be room for quality professional photographers who provide the public the best possible products that they really want.  Be sure to read the May edition by clicking here.

You can read any edition of The Backgrounder by going to the VB Web site’s archive pages.

Coming in the July Backgrounder

New ideas for photographers who want to get out of the box and take new approaches to fighting the Perfect Storm.


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!


New!  Seven Piece Poser System
A Tool that Every Photographer Needs



Every professional photographer struggles with how to pose small and large groups.  Most drag in anything they can find.  They use posing stools and other ways to position clients so everyone can be seen and look as natural as possible.  The new VB Seven Piece Poser System makes posing groups a snap.  The very sturdy but compact system can be used in the studio or it can easily be taken on location.  It can be used with a single subject or with groups as many as 14 or more.  The Seven Piece Poser offers a nearly infinite variety of ways to quickly set up depending on the needs of the moment.  You’ll look so much more professional and get better results with this system.

Click below to see a demo of the Seven Piece Poser system.

Contact Virtual Backgrounds for information and pricing.



A testimonial on the Seven Piece Poser by Russ Hanson

We all know how difficult it can be to place family members at proper levels and angles when creating family groupings. We've done it for years for churches, schools, service clubs, etc. Each time we tend to be somewhat under the gun, are expected to put the group together in short order, make the exposure, and get on with the next group.  There is no messing around trying to find props to increase height.

Nancy and I have looked at many possibilities over the years. We've used boxes, stools, and gear cases.  It was always the same old story. We needed something substantial, easily transported and quick to set up in a wide variety of configurations.

While attending a Virtual Background session in April, we noticed a unique rather interesting bench with a number of easy to use height attachments right there in Jim Wilson's studio. We got to use it during our posing sessions. What a neat tool with no assembly required, and it is sturdy too!  It's made out of plywood, is painted black, and is very easy to setup and manipulate.  It's easy to transport and fits nicely in the back of our minivan.  It's also reasonably priced and well worth the investment. What a find!  Virtual Backgrounds will even ship it right to you!

When the supply of the benches had just arrived at Virtual Backgrounds, Jim had five orders before the end of the first day.  That has to say something about the system!

We do a number of church directory portrait sessions as well as weddings.  Aside from our wide vue model Scene Machine gear, our bench system has been a mainstay in the equipment we haul along since the day it arrived. I wouldn't want to operate without it.


Changing Trends in Backgrounds

Virtual Backgrounds has the Answer!

Instantly change to any background in seconds and for just
a few dollars when you have Virtual Backgrounds.

It is interesting to watch as the photographer’s and the public’s preferences in backgrounds change.  The old canvas and muslin backgrounds are mostly out.  Customized important local backgrounds such as the subject’s school building are always hot.  Computer graphics have been out of style for some years now but seem to be coming back.  Grunge is in.  Outdoor scenes are sometimes good for certain situations.  The candid look is also in. 

Regardless of what is in, using Virtual Backgrounds the photographer can assemble a collection of backgrounds that best represent what is in the now, and it will only cost a few dollars. The Scene Machine is indeed the universal background producer.  All photographers have to do is feed their Scene Machine slides that they either purchased or created on their own.


Learn How to Get into School Photography
Earn Up To $1,000 Per Hour!



An image like this could be captured for pre-school.  It’s highly appealing and totally different from what the typical pre school photographer offers.

Even with the economy the way that it is right now, school photographers are continuing to do very well.  School photography was once thought to be the domain of only the big guys like Lifetouch, but today, the digital revolution has opened the doors to school photography for the local professional photographer.  As the local photographer, you actually would have many advantages over Lifetouch.  Many local photographers are finding it easy to get local contracts, if they have the right information.

So, how does the local photographer break into school photography?  It isn’t as hard as you might think.  Working in conjunction with Marathon Press, Chris Wunder can teach you all you need to know at one of his bootcamps. 

The next bootcamp will be held July 19-23, 2010 in Turner’s Falls, Massachusetts.  It’s an intensive five-day program that will point you in the right direction.  Take action.  Learn about and attend a Chris Wunder Bootcamp. 


Click here to learn all about the next school photography bootcamp!


Richard Sturdevant Does It Again!
Another Print Score of 100!




Richard Sturdavent just earned another 100 – a rare perfect print score on one of his four submissions for judging at the Texas Professional Photographers Summer Seminar recently in Kerrville, Texas.  His other three prints earned him a 98 and two 96s!  This gave Richard a total of 390 points out of 400 which also earned him the award for having the highest print case score, his second year in a row!  It is rare to earn a score above 90 and extremely rare to earn a perfect score of 100.  Richard now has 6 prints with a score of 100!  Wow!

Richard will be presenting a two-day workshop at Virtual Backgrounds on his Photographic Composite Art methods July 22-23, 2010.  Contact Virtual Backgrounds for more information about this workshop.  It will take your photography to a whole new level! 





Does Cheap Coincide with Professional?

Today it is very common for a customer to have a better camera than the professional they are visiting.  It is also quite common for many photographers to look for the cheapest and most simple way to outfit their studio.  They may buy a very basic $1000 camera, the cheapest lights, shooting into umbrellas providing them with nothing more than blah lighting.  They often work on location because they don’t have a studio and shoot with the flash on camera and with the camera in P mode.  These people are not professional photographers - they are shutterbugs.

It is Basic Business 101 for the photographer who really wants to succeed to outfit themselves with equipment that enables them to create images that are distinctively above that which the masses can produce.  Properly used, good equipment is critical.  Your customers know if you have gone cheap just as you would not appreciate your dentist removing a tooth with a pair of Home Depot pliers!

Our industry is in the midst of dealing with the Perfect Storm:  the digital revolution and the economy.  The industry is transforming but in the end, the public will come to recognize that there are professional photographers who can make them look really good and special, using creative techniques and quality equipment in addition to their skills.


What Counts is the Experience
and the Product!

As photographers struggle to recover from the Perfect Storm, the most important things that will bring customers to the professional photographer are the total experience the photographer provides and the uniqueness and quality of the resultant product.  If the professional photographer offers nothing really different from what the client can do on their own, then why bother with the professional?  If you deliver images that look like snapshots, you won’t last long in today’s market.

To maintain their business, the professional must be as different as possible from others, especially the amateurs.  Recently we heard of a professional who photographed a family in the local park.  When she came back in the afternoon to photograph another family in the same park, she noticed that the family that she had just photographed that morning was being photographed again by an amateur in the exact same locations and configurations she had used just a few hours earlier.  Needless to say, when she showed them their previews, they bought nothing!  This is no longer a rare situation.  It is becoming common when the professional photographer isn’t doing anything special and doing things that can easily be copied.

This is one more example why the professional needs to primarily do much of their work in their studio where they have total control and where they can produce images that the amateurs cannot do, using equipment like Virtual Backgrounds that the amateurs and other professionals do not have.  High key white and traditional photographer’s canvas backgrounds produce images the others cannot do on their own and should be part of many sittings along with the more contemporary looks.  Today’s photographer places far too much emphasis on shooting candids on location.  That’s what amateurs do best.  It is hard to compete with amateurs when working in their environment and style.

It is critical that the studio facility, even if the studio is just a room in the photographer’s home, look professional in every way, including the equipment.  It is critical that the photographer perform in a professional manner and not just take snapshots.  Customers today know when they are paying for something they could have done on their own. 

The business is out there, and it is coming back as the economy improves!  However, we as professionals must work smarter to deliver variety and creativity that others cannot do.

Next VB Workshop:
June 19-21, 2010

Next Richard Sturdevant Workshop:
July 22-23, 2010

Attend both workshops in only one visit! Special hotel room rates of $45 per night offered to workshop attendees.

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.