May 2008 Issue

In this issue:

Need a Jump Start?
We've Got One for You!

Texas School - A Barn Burner

The Perfect Storm Intensifies-
An Advisory Update

Trevon Baker Scheduled to Teach
June 16-17 Workshop at VB

A Message to Virtual Backgrounds
Systems Owners

Featured Photographer: Trevon Baker
24 Shots, 11 Backgrounds, 20 Minutes

Virtual Backgrounds Workshops Bring Photographers from
All Over the World

Ranjith De Silva flew 26 hours to come to the May 2008 Virtual Backgrounds workshop from Sri Lanka.  By comparison, it was just a “short” trip for Linda Kangara to come to Virtual Backgrounds from Nakuru Kenya.   Ranjith is a full time professional photographer in Sri Lanka.  Linda is a dentist who is developing her interest in professional photography and feels that the only reasonable approach to background variety is by using the Scene Machine. 

So, playfully speaking, this month's winner of the longest distance traveled to attend a Virtual Backgrounds workshop is from Sri Lanka.  We think Ranjith will continue to “hold the record” until perhaps a competitor starts to see his work and searches out the source of his magic Scene Machine.

Photographers around the world are learning that the background can play a critical role in helping their studios fight the “perfect storm” by enabling them to offer their clients unlimited variety and style that the public cannot duplicate on their own no matter what digital camera they may own.

Studio Pro Monostands -
Flying Out the Door!

Only 8 of the new Studio Pro monostands remain in the VB inventory and they are going fast!  The container with the next shipment is not scheduled to be shipped for another week or two, so it is highly likely that we will again be out of stock for a short while.

Photographers love the Studio Pro monostand for a variety of reasons.  First, it is highly professional looking.  It is also a pleasure to use.  The camera can be raised above head-height or almost down to ankle-height.  There is no need for a professional photographer to hand hold their camera when they have a Studio Pro monostand.  This frees them up to help in the posing of the subject and enables them to adjust the lighting as well as to use their Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system. 

The Studio Pro monostand features an accessory tray and an optional tray for a laptop computer.

Contact your consultant at Virtual Backgrounds for further information.

Ferro Tour Coming
to a City Near You!

The 21 city Rick and Deborah Ferro tour is off to a great start!  The Ferros have completed presentations in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Phoenix, San Diego and Los Angeles.  The majority of the tour stops are still ahead.  The tour is coming to Dallas, Austin, Houston, Hartford, Boston, Philadelphia, Newark, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore, Richmond and Raleigh.   Don’t miss this great opportunity to learn from the best! Go to  for more information. 

Also, Ii September, the Ferros will conduct a 2 ½ day workshop at the VB Learn and Earn Center in San Marcos. Many tour attendees recognize the importance of the ideas covered in the Ferro tour and want to learn so much more.  That is the reason for the 2 ½ day workshop which is also scheduled as part of the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn series. Contact us for more information and to reserve your space in the class today!

Rick and Deborah Ferro Scheduled for a 2 1/2 Day Workshop at VB in September

September 17, 18, and 19, 2008 are the dates when Rick and Deborah Ferro will conduct a 2 ½ day workshop at the Learn and Earn Center at Virtual Backgrounds.  Fresh off their 21 city national wide tour where they are presenting 4 hour programs, many attendees are anxious to learn so much more from these two fantastic photographer/instructors. 

Rick will concentrate on his unique styles of lighting, posing, and his highly creative use of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system for fantasy portraits.  Deborah will emphasize her artistic techniques with PhotoShop and Painter.

The workshop is just $295.  Contact us to reserve your seat in this fantastic workshop today!

Have You Ever Seen a Portrait without a Background?

It’s impossible to have a portrait without a background unless you use the subject’s face to fill the entire image.  Otherwise every portrait has a background whether it be total white, total black, traditional canvas, or something more creative and contemporary.  It is the background that helps to give more meaning to a portrait whether that meaning just comes from a complementary color or tone, or from a very personalized background that truly represents some important element of the subject’s life. 

For several generations, professional photographers have avoided doing anything special with the background - the less the better.  That is rapidly changing as clients reject the traditional looks and seek more contemporary looks.  In addition, if the public cannot get what they want at the studio, they will simply take their own photographs with their own digital camera and avoid the professional all together.

Virtual Backgrounds has devoted years to educating photographers about the power of the background, including offering the only book for photographers that is devoted to the background.  Background Power! has resulted in many significant changes in the attitude of professional photographers.  Background Power! is available from Virtual Backgrounds for only $39.95.  Contact us to order your copy today!

New Scene Machine Users Purchases Second System

While other photographers are closing their doors, Kate Russell-Caudillo of Get the Picture, Inc. just purchased her second Virtual Backgrounds System.

Kate and her husband Charles run a corporate and event photography business.  They have been very successful with their Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system, so successful that they need a second system just to keep up.  Kate and Charles are another example of just how special and profitable a Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system can be. Keep up the great work Charles and Kate!

It's All About the Experience

Image by Joseph & Louise Simone

Once upon a time, going to a professional photographer was a true experience.  You went to a special store.  You viewed all kinds of unique photographs in the reception area.  When you entered the camera room, you knew you were in a special place.  Everything was strange to you: the camera, the many lights, the props.  You felt like you were in a little bit of Hollywood.  You knew that mysterious things happened, probably in the basement below you, as the photographer created the photographs of you.

So much of that is different today.  Many studios are just a quick place to meet, perhaps in a home or even in a Starbucks.  The studio is often just a public park.  The camera the photographer uses is just like your own camera.  The lighting is often just the flash attached to the camera or perhaps natural light, just like you use.  The photographer gets his pictures made at Sam’s Club, just like you do.  You wonder, so what’s so special about professional photography?  Why do I need to pay a photographer to do what I already do quite well myself?

That is exactly the problem today.  If professional photographers don’t do anything really special that the amateur can’t do on their own, then why should they pay the professional other than just being lazy themselves?

With this realization, photographers must reinvent professional photography from top to bottom.  The photographer must provide the client with a total experience they cannot create on their own.  This is exactly where Virtual Backgrounds comes into play.  No amateur has Virtual Backgrounds.  No amateur can take a client into a professional studio with sophisticated lighting and props and through the use of Virtual Backgrounds, provide the client with a wide variety of images that truly reflect the client’s personality or special needs.  Amateurs are not good at incorporating special tools like Corel Painter nor do they create quality wall portraits.  Amateurs do not consult with their subjects and plan out exactly the approach that is best suited to the client’s needs.

As long as professionals insist on acting like amateurs, they will continue to watch their market erode.  When professionals act like true professionals, providing unique products their clients cannot do on their own, that’s when the professional studios will grow again.

Canadian Photographer
Diane Wilson will Teach
Children's Fantasy Workshop
at Virtual Backgrounds

Click here to enlarge the above image.

Diane Wilson, known by some as the “flea market photographer” and by others as the “fairy or fantasy photographer” has just agreed to teach at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn center July 17 - 18, 2008.  Diane has developed a very unique and profitable following for a special niche within portraiture and fantasy portraits of children.  Contact us for more information and to register for the class.

A Thank You from Henry Oles

I want to personally thank the 2000 photographers who responded to the questionnaire I sent out on behalf of my friends at Photo Imaging News to assess the current state of the professional industry.   Each of you will be getting a summary of the results along with a 1-year subscription to their electronic newsletter which is primarily prepared for major photographic suppliers like Kodak.

In these days of dramatic changes in our industry, it is critically important that we all use our best methods to gather data and share information.  Otherwise, we are all working blind.  The information you provided will help us all get a better “handle” on things. 

At Virtual Backgrounds, we are preparing a questionnaire of our own with questions specifically designed to determine your needs for success. We hope you will participate in it when it comes out.  All results will be shared with the group.

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!

Need a Jump Start?
We've Got One for You!

Are you looking for a way to jump start your studio business?  Are you new to the studio industry and trying to find a way to clearly distinguish yourself and move ahead of the established studios?  Are you an established studio feeling the effects of The Perfect Storm and looking to regain your momentum?  There IS a way to “jump start” your business that has already been discovered by a rapidly growing number of photographers.

Seung Hyu Baek Lee Sang Jun
Rainy Chastine Richard Sturdevant
Horacio Dominguez Diane Wilson
Don Hileman Lora Yeater
Joe Pellingra

The background is a very powerful aspect of a portrait and Virtual Backgrounds puts that power literally in the palm of your hand. Photographers are desperately searching for solutions to today's challenges, and to them we'd like to say, "Take a serious look at what Virtual Backgrounds can do for you!" 

There is no other tool that offers the power of a Virtual Backgrounds system to enable a photographer to jump start their business.  Jump starting comes through new creativity and maximum variety.  It comes through the use of personalized backgrounds.  It comes with providing a more contemporary style of photography along with still offering traditional looks as well.  After all, it is the creativity and variety that you show your public that entices them to choose to spend their dollars on professional photography rather than hanging on to their dollars for gasoline and food stockpiling.

The proof is clear.  As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Just look at the sample images created by photographers from around the world with Virtual Backgrounds.  Listen to their testimonials saying that they would not be in business without Virtual Backgrounds.  Come to a Virtual Backgrounds workshop and see for yourself.  The tools to put you ahead, way ahead, are available right here!

You owe it to yourself, to your business, and to your clients to explore what Virtual Backgrounds can do for you.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.

Click on the below names to view how Virtual Backgrounds has enhanced these successful photographers' variety, creativity and ultimately their bottom line profits:

Seung Hyu Baek Lee Sang Jun
Rainy Chastine Richard Sturdevant
Horacio Dominguez Diane Wilson
Don Hileman Lora Yeater
Joe Pellingra

Texas School - Another Barn Burner!

World famous Texas School, held at Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas was another rousing success with 995 students.  However, the nature of the students was quite different from previous years.  The count of regular established studios returning was down but there were plenty of newbies, including first timers, to make up for the decrease.  It’s further proof that professional studio photography is attracting larger and larger numbers of people from all areas in life and of all ages.  Some are classic soccer moms while many others are in various stages of developing a clientele.   As an example of the diverse nature of the new photographers, one attendee was a recently retired chief municipal court judge from Dallas now able to do what he has wanted to do for years - take pictures.  His story is not all that unusual. 

On Wednesday evening, there was the traditional trade show and party at the new Brazos Center. Virtual Backgrounds displayed a Scene Machine system along with sample prints from a wide variety of clients.

Click here for more information on
Texas School and a 2008 recap.

The Perfect Storm Intensifies
An Advisory Update

Photographers everywhere are facing the challenges which have been described by Dr. Henry Oles’ book, The Professional Photographers Perfect Storm.  Published two years ago, the book was eye-opening for financially challenged photographers. Now two years later, even this publication could not have anticipated current developments.  Back then, photographers complained that it was the economy that was driving down their business, when in fact the economy was still good.  Today the nation’s economy and even the world economy is sputtering. 

Back then, photographers thought the high price of gasoline was the problem.  Gasoline prices have nearly doubled since then.  And now we hear about the world wide food shortage and the doubling of the price of basic staples like rice and flour. 

The public’s discretionary cash is being eaten up by these necessities at the exact same time everyone is taking their own photographs with their high power digital cameras.

Your success as a professional photographer clearly depends on your ability to promote your product! In order to do that, you have to make your product as unique and special as possible.  While your clients will not choose professional photography over food and gasoline, it will move up in their list of priorities if the photographer has something really enticing to offer and can create life long memories that the customer will cherish.  If you don’t jump start your operation now, in every respect, you’ll regret you didn’t.  Opportunities for profit are ticking away.

Trevon Baker Scheduled to Teach
June 16-17 Workshop at VB

Montana Photographer of the Year and holder of the Photographic Craftsman degree, Trevon Baker, has agreed to teach a special two day portrait class at the new VB Learn and Earn facility in San Marcos, Texas on June 16-17, 2008.  Trevon is especially well known for his very down to earth approach to photography and teaching.   Trevon teaches basic and advanced portraiture emphasizing the four dimensions of a portrait - lighting, posing, expression and background.  He stresses the importance of the total integration of the four dimensions to create a total experience for the client that results in significantly higher sales averages.  Contact us for further information on the Trevon Baker “Portrait Dimensions” workshop.

A Message to Virtual Backgrounds
System Owners

Simply owning a Virtual Backgrounds system isn’t a guaranteed success.  It is only the first step.  You have to use it effectively and actively promote the major benefits that come with using Virtual Backgrounds in order to see the results you want.  Too often a photographer buys a new piece of equipment and then sits and waits for the public to respond, hoping they will break down the front door.  It won’t happen.  The new tool has to be effectively put to use and promoted.  That’s the only way something will happen.  Otherwise, nothing will happen.

If you own a Virtual Backgrounds system, even an old one, and if you haven’t come to a Virtual Backgrounds workshop, schedule to attend now!  If you haven’t been looking at your VB system as a powerful promotional tool, do so now.  If you have been using VB only for some of your work, reevaluate your methods.  You hold in your hands the most powerful accessory a studio photographer can own to effectively promote their business, especially in these difficult times.

Want to know how to use your Virtual Backgrounds system? 

Let us help - Come to VB training and get hands-on experience with the most powerful tool that you will ever use to enhance your photography and bottom line profits!

Featured Photographer
Trevon Baker
24 Shots, 11 Contemporary Backgrounds,
20 Minutes in Front of an Audience

Linda Kangara and Trevon Baker

Montana photographer Trevon Baker was the guest speaker for the May 2008 Virtual Backgrounds workshop.  Linda Kangara flew all the way from Kenya to attend the workshop.  When Trevon needed a subject to demonstrate how he uses the Scene Machine as a primary tool to enhance his work, he chose Linda to be his model.

Trevon wanted to demonstrate to the class how quickly and efficiently he could integrate lighting, posing, expression and background to create a wide variety of images for a subject to choose from.  In just 20 minutes, while working in front of the entire class, Trevon captured 24 exposures and used 11 different backgrounds to create a variety of images a subject would have a very difficult time refusing to purchase.

Trevon says, “When I work with a subject, I want them to have a unique experience. I create as much variety as possible for them without taking a lot of their time.  That’s what works for me today!”

The images, both the original thumb nails as well as those selected for enlargement, speak for themselves.  Without the use of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system, this just simply could not be possible.

Trevon Baker is scheduled to teach a 2 day class, June 16 - 17, 2008 at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn Center.   The class is titled Portrait Dimensions and covers the methods he uses on a regular basis in his studio.  For further information on this class contact a consultant at Virtual Backgrounds.

Click here to see all of Trevon's shots in this photo shoot.

Click here to see all of Trevon's shots in this photo shoot.

Click here to view Trevon’s 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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