June 2011 Issue

In this issue:

Boudoir is Back!

Are You a Real Photographer?

Cindy Cofer Presents Two Programs at PPOC National Convention

Coming in July: Richard Sturdevant

Featured Photograher: Jim Richard

Virtual Backgrounds:
Miracle or Scam?

Which is it?  Some say it is a scam.  Others say it is the primary reason they are able to stay in business and be profitable.  How could opinions vary from diametric opposite extremes?  What are the facts?

There is no other tool in professional photography that is more misunderstood than Virtual Backgrounds.  We ask that photographers simply take the time to learn for themselves the miracle of Virtual Backgrounds. Learn how to properly implement and promote it!

Virtual Backgrounds is more important today than ever because it is the only tool left for the professional photographer that the amateurs and every other professional doesn’t already have.  It significantly helps the professional clearly distinguish them self from the pack, enabling them to produce work that people want but cannot get elsewhere and cannot do on their own no matter what fancy digital camera they may own.

VB invites any photographer to try the concept for themselves even using their own camera and lights.  See for yourself how Virtual Backgrounds actually works.  This is the best way to prove once and for all that VB is indeed a miracle product that makes money.   As far as how it makes real money for the photographer, they have to use ordinary logic as well as talk with successful users.  It’s just common sense: More variety means more enthusiasm and more sales.  Customized background variety means even more contracts and more sales. It’s that simple.

However, as much of a miracle as Virtual Backgrounds actually is, it isn’t automatic.  One can’t just plug a system in and watch the money come out.  It takes some effort, learning, persistence, and creativity to make it all happen.  If you follow the easy instructions, you will succeed beyond your wildest expectations! 

Upcoming Learn and Earn Workshops

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Turning Backgrounds
into Dollars

June 13-15
July 11-13
August 8-10

Richard Sturdevant
Lifestyle Art Portraits

July 14-15

Joseph and Louise Simone
Classic Portraiture

August 1-5

Contact Virtual Backgrounds

to reserve your space today!

Amateurs are Gaining
on the Professional!

Hundreds of thousands of amateurs who are wanna be professionals or even already charging for their work are gaining fast on the established professionals.   Many professionals don’t think the amateur competition is much to worry about but they should take another look.  For example, Precision Camera in Austin Texas is regularly conducting classes to teach amateurs how to light and operate a studio.  They even bring in some high power instructors.

Here is part of Precision Camera’s Internet ad:  ‘Have you been doing all of your portrait work outdoors because you don’t know how studio lights work?  Are you ready to take the next step in developing your photographic skill with lights?” Click here to view the ad.

While many professional studios are giving up their studios to work on location, the amateurs are working hard to learn studio lighting and are aiming to have real studios.  One doesn’t have to be a genius to know where things are going!  Instead of walking away from their studios, professionals need to enhance their studios and develop specialized techniques that leave all others in the dust.  Most professionals are going in the wrong direction by going amateur.

Trevon Baker's
Small Group Training

June 27 - 30, 2011

Here's a special opportunity to study with Trevon in a small group. Take an extra day at no extra cost to do a photo safari into nearby Glacier National Park.

Click here to register.

Last Chance to Enroll in
Chris Wunder's
School Photography
Boot Camp!

One area of professional photography that is still going well is school photography. New technology and services make it possible for the local independent to be successful in school photography. No longer do the schools have to contract with the national companies. Chris Wunder, in conjunction with Marathon Press has designed the Boot Camp to educate independent photographers with the information they need to know to get started in school photography.Cindy Cofer from Virtual Backgrounds will be attending the Boot Camp and will have a demonstration studio operating. Virtual Backgrounds has put together a special package designed for school photographers which includes a variety of background images that tie directly in to flyers produced by Marathon Press. Marathon will have a new pre-pay flyer available for virtual background users for distribution to your schools.The Boot Camp is a 5 day training program to be held at the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas, June 20 – 24. For further information and registration, call 800 2280629 . Click here for more informaiton.

Lora Yeater Scheduled to Speak in Austin, Texas

West Virginia photographer Lora Yeater is scheduled to do the program for the June meeting of the Austin Professional Photographer’s Association.  She will be talking about her award winning work that has brought her national attention with a score of 100 on one of her composite images captured with her Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  Lora’s program will actually begin July 18, 2011,  before dinner and then continue more formally after dinner.  Click here for more information.

Lora spoke last month at the Virtual Backgrounds workshop in San Marcos and is scheduled to be a featured speaker at the SPI (Senior Photographers International) convention in January.

Can Virtual Backgrounds be Projected Digitally?

We are asked this question more and more.  The answer is a hesitant yes. You see, creating a VB projector that projects digital files requires the use of certain kinds of large and expensive LCD projectors.  This approach would make the VB system much more expensive,  a system that would be much larger in physical size and weight, and one that would be more difficult to use.  This brings us back to the absolute simplicity of using traditional transparencies for backgrounds.  Transparencies are so effective simple and inexpensive. The current system offers elegant simplicity.

So, although it is possible to create a digital projection background system, it would be a product that almost no one would want to buy because of its cost and size.

While the grass always looks greener on the other side, this is a case where the grass on the current side of the fence is really the more cost effective method which also is the simplest to use.

How Some are Combatting Tax Cheats

There are hundreds of thousands of people trying to enter the photography profession.  It has been found that many of them are not paying their taxes by operating a cash business flying under government  radar.    By not paying their taxes, they are able to sell their work for half the price of the typical tax paying professional, and still come out with more money in their pocket.  This is so onerous and damaging to the professional, some individual professionals and  at least some professional groups have taken it upon themselves to identify those who are promoting their work for sale as professional photographers but who are not paying taxes.  With the internet, it is fairly simple to identify those who advertise in such places as on Craig’s List.  Then they can check the public records on the internet to see if they are paying their taxes.  Those who are found to be cheating are turned in to the State Comptroller for action. While the state typically has limited resources to go out and find small tax cheats, they do normally react very aggressively if they receive names and addresses of those who are cheats.   They really have to pursue the culprits.

Is it a good policy to report competition to the government who are not playing by the rules?  While it may seem offensive, how does one compete day after day with those who don’t pay taxes and who therefore significantly undercut the legitimate photographer?  There really isn’t much choice.

A Special Treat:  Learn Classic Portraiture from the Best in the World

Joseph and Louise Simone

If you want to learn the fine points of classic portraiture, information that can help you perfect all of your photography, plan to attend this special 5 day workshop that can help you change your style increase sales.  While many professionals and the amateurs are point and shooters, the Simones are simply the best in producing  classic portraits. Their images stand far apart from all the others.  This is your chance to learn how they do it in this five day workshop, August 1-5, 2011.

The Simones conduct only a very limited number of workshops.  To study with them for a week can be one of the most important investments a photographer can make in their education.  Class size is limited and  is already more than half full.  Call 512 805 4844 to reserve your seat in a workshop that can help you achieve new heights in artistic performance.

Learn All about VB and How to Use it to Generate Big Dollars!

If you are thinking about adding the many advantages of Virtual Backgrounds or if you already have a system, this intensive three day workshop is for you.  Spend three days learning how Virtual Backgrounds can be your most powerful investment in equipment  enabling you to create images the public loves but cannot do on their own.   Backgrounds are the most under used component of a professional portrait.

Taught by Master Craftsman photographer, Trevon Baker from Montana and Photographic Craftsman Jim Wilson, you’ll be amazed at all there is to learn about using Virtual Backgrounds to enhance both your creativity and profits.  Get hands on experience.

Choose from the following dates: 

June 13-15
July 11-13
August 8-10

Contact us for information and reservations.  Your satisfaction is guaranteed.


When photo industry leaders Scott Bourne and Skip Cohen started working to develop a new association for professional photographers at the end of last year, they were looking for something different. The association, Professional Wedding & Studio Photographers International (PWSPI), is literally building support for aspiring and working professionals brick by brick.

“Depending on who’s doing the counting, it’s estimated there are 500,000 - 700,000 people in the United States who consider themselves professional photographers. Yet, less than 5 percent belong to any association,” says Cohen. “Obviously, not everyone believes they can get the help they need from the existing entities.”

This week, Bourne and Cohen will launch what they believe is an industry first. Every PWSPI member, both new and existing, will now receive free marketing support from the two founders of the association themselves.

7 Piece Poser

In a word: Versatile

Click here to watch a demonstration video.

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!

Boudoir is Back!

VB Adds Extra Spark of Variety
that Amateurs Can’t Duplicate!

Boudoir images by Cindy Cofer

Kentucky photographer Cindy Cofer sees her boudoir business growing rapidly, especially the past few years as more and more women are interested in having intimate photographs taken of themselves by a professional photographer who knows what they are doing.  Cindy has not only developed her boudoir methods, she uses her Virtual Backgrounds system to create a maximum amount of variety without ever leaving the studio where she has total control.

Boudoir is an especially great specialty today for the professional photographer.  Amateurs are trying to do so much of their own photography and, therefore, skip the professional.  However, when it comes to boudoir, the amateur and even the inexperienced professional can really create a mess, producing work that looks like amateur trash. 

To be successful at boudoir, the photographer needs a studio, they need professional lighting, and they need to know how to light. Furthermore, they need to know how to pose the human figure and add complementary backgrounds are also important.  These are all things that amateurs can’t do.  The difference between amateur flash photography and professional boudoir photography is night and day.  The low level photographers can’t get away with selling the natural look for boudoir.  It’s trash.  Anyone can see and appreciate the difference.  When a woman wants to look her best, especially in sexy poses, she will seek a competent professional and be willing to pay for the results.

Virtual Backgrounds will be hosting boudoir photography training workshops later this year.  Watch for important announcements and consider learning from experts how to become a successful boudoir photographer.

Are You a Real Photographer?

Kevin Newsom’s Observations


If you have a camera and have a park to romp in, you too can be a professional photographer. You can take hundreds of snapshots for that natural look. That’s exactly what the public is getting today from so many people who call themselves professional.

Take a look at this YouTube clip by Tampa photographer Kevin Newsom. The only option for survival for the real professional is to promote services and product that these snap shooters can’t begin to do.

Cindy Cofer Presents Two Workshops at PP of Canada National Convention

Kentucky photographer, Cindy Cofer, presented two popular workshops at the recent convention of the Professional Photograhers of Canada National Convenion in Banff Alberta Canada.  Her first program  concentrated on marketing the professional studio to bring in the business even in these tough times.  Cindy makes ample use of Virtual Backgrounds as a powerful marketing tool that brings her sittings.

Her second program was on her boudoir specialty which attracted a sizable audience for the 7 a.m. time slot.  Cindy calls her boudoir, Whispers of Romance.  Cindy reports that her boudoir work is the most rapidly growing component of her very active small town studio.  She is attracting clients from as far as Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky. Her boudoir sales are just as successful as her senior and family photography.

Shauna Gustavson Presents
First Program at PPOC

Alberta photographer, Shauna Gustavson, a VB Featured Photographer and avid user of Virtual Backgrounds delivered her very first program at the Professional Photographers of Canada convention last month.  Shauna talked about her use of Virtual Backgrounds and how it has helped her business grow.  Shauna’s two daughters, Ashly and Kristen attended the convention and served as models in the VB booth.

Coming in July:
Richard Sturdevant's
Lifestyle Art Portraits

Professional photographers everywhere complain that their business is way down.  Those who want to get it up should consider attending Richard’s Lifestyle Art Portraits workshop to be held July 14-15, 2011, at Virtual Backgrounds.  Richard’s lifestyle composites are a new and different concept that the amateurs and even other professionals can’t touch.  They are highly salable print images that appeal to all age groups and can be sold for significant dollars.  As with all VB sponsored workshops, your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back.  The cost for the two day workshop with two meals is just $295.

Contact VB for more information and reservations.

Featured Photographer:

Jim Richard

A Photographer from Birth, Well Almost!

While many photographers find their way into the business after doing many other things, Jim Richard got started when he was just a kid and kept on going. Initially it was just for fun but in junior high school he got his first 35 mm camera. By the time he reached high school, he learned that he could turn his enthusiasm for photography into money. After high school, Jim joined the Navy and for 3 years served as a photographer’s mate while he broadened his training and experience.

After the Navy, Jim spent six years in newspaper photography before opening his own Houston area studio in his home in 2000 and then opening in a commercial location in 2003. Jim purchased his Scene Machine virtual background system in 2005 and immediately put it to use to distinguish him from the competition. Initially Jim didn’t want other photographers in his area to know that he was using the Scene Machine to create his unique images but more recently decided that he did not really care who knew his methods.

Quoting Jim, “I believe that virtual backgrounds is what has kept my business going. There have been so many new photographers showing up in the area, most of whom are selling mediocre imaging. I had to show my customers that I do so much more than the others. I provide exciting work that other photographers just can’t do because they don’t have a VB system. Because my studio is small with minimal space for working and for storing equipment, my VB system solved many problems. At first, before I knew about virtual backgrounds, I was buying a lot of muslin backgrounds. Not only were they costing me an arm and a leg, they also had to be set up, taken down and stored. In addition, the styles of muslin backgrounds get old very fast so I had to keep buying new backgrounds to stay different. I like to use multiple backgrounds with a subject but it was time consuming to keep changing from one muslin to the next. It takes just seconds to change backgrounds with VB. With VB, I can offer my clients both location and studio photographs and in Texas, with our super hot summers, that’s important.

Jim does a lot of his work on location, often with the virtual background system. His specializes in formal events, seniors and dance studios. “Without VB, I just don’t think I would be in business today. It enabled me to put all my muslin backgrounds into storage. The Scene Machine has really saved me a lot of money because I have no need to keep on buying those standard backgrounds that everyone else with a studio has. I can be really different.”

With so many changes happening in photography and with the economy looking down again, Jim is about to make another change in his business. He is scheduled to move out of his commercial location and into a separate building next to his residence. He will still have a formal studio area with a virtual background system but most of his work has always been done on location. However, he is also planning to join up with another business to share some high traffic commercial space to keep costs down.

Jim’s plan is to continue his business with even more special emphasis on being different from all the others who are vying for the business. “If I am not clearly different and better, I just won’t last.”

Jim is taking a realistic look at the photographic industry and setting himself up to continue to be successful even if the economy drops and even as thousands of new photographer all try to grab business.

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.