May 2011 Issue

In this issue:

Studio Theater - Put on a Show; Make More Money

Joseph and Louise Simone: August 1-5

VB Annual Print Competition Returns

Great News! Business is Way Up!

Learn How to Create Lifestyle Art Portraits with Richard Sturdevant

Another Big Big Advantage of Using VB

Customers today often want to take their own snap shots of subjects as they are being photographed by the professional photographer.  The professional can forbid it but that only makes people mad and helps to destroy business.  It is really pretty hard to stop others from snapping over the professional’s shoulder as she does the set ups.

If the professional is using Virtual Backgrounds, they can let the visitors take any snapshots they wish because not only will the sneaky amateur get a totally blown out background, the subject will also be blown out!!  It’s amazing. 

Many Virtual Backgrounds users just quietly chuckle to themselves as a parent or other guest in the camera room tries to “steal” images with their fancy little digital camera. If they use their flash on the camera, they are flabbergasted with the results.  Even if they don’t use the flash on the camera, they get a meaningless gray background.  This is just one more major advantage of using the Virtual Backgrounds process.  It certainly stymies the snap shooters.

This is an example of what happens when a customer shoots over the photographer’s shoulder when Virtual Backgrounds is being used. They get no background, they get a double shadow, and in many cases, the subject is flared out. When using virtual backgrounds, the photographer does not have to prohibit others from stealing poses. The end result is nothing of value.

Are Slides about to Disappear?

Absolutely not!  Slides are not going away!  A growing number of photographers have expressed concern about the future of photographic slides which are used in Virtual Backgrounds.  This has been a result of hearing that Kodak dropped Kodachrome which they had actually been planning to do for many years.  Kodak still makes Ektachrome and Fuji makes Fujichrome.   There are no plans to discontinue either Ektachrome or Fujichrome, but if and when that ever happens, slides for backgrounds can be made from movie film.  Movie film is still a very important component in the movie industry and works just like regular slides for creating backgrounds.

In addition, there is a lot of attention being given to using items other than slides to create backgrounds with the Virtual Backgrounds process. An example is the increasing use of designer disks and various other kinds of abstract background generators which are so popular today.

Almost anything that light can pass through can be a background: pieces of plastic, fluorescent light fixtures, shower door glass, bubble wrap and a piece of ordinary toilet paper. The creative possibilities that come with using Virtual Backgrounds are endless.

Upcoming Workshops that can Make You More Money

We have a full schedule of workshops coming up that can help you make more money.  There are ways to be successful even in these difficult times.   Now is the time to register to hold your seat.  Remember, all of our workshops are guaranteed.  We have special hotel rates of only $45 per night.

VB – Turning Backgrounds into Dollars

The nuts and bolts of operating a VB system and how to successfully incorporate VB into your operation to increase sales and profits.

June 13-15, 2011

July 11-13, 2011

Richard Sturdevant’s
Lifestyle Art Portraits

A highly profitable new concept that can generate significant new business.

July 14-15, 2011

Joseph and Louise Simone

Simply the best in portrait photography.  Every serious portrait photography should attend a Simone workshop, at least once.

August 1 – 5, 2011

Contact VB for full details and to secure your space in one of these outstanding workshops!

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.

Chris Wunder’s School Photography Boot Camp

June 20 – 24, 2011 

Chris Wunder’s School Photography Boot Camp to be held at the Rivera Hotel in Las Vegas Nevada.  With times being tough for many independent photographers, school photography is still a highly profitable area that is now more open than ever to local independent photographers.  Chris is the leader in teaching independent photographers all the  ins-and-outs of starting and operating a successful school photography business.  For more information about this exciting opportunity, contact Chris Wunder at 704-366-5104 or [email protected] .

Click here for more information!

Missing Out on
Opportunity and Profit

So many photographers today try to do all of their work outdoors in a candid fashion and never seem to realize that by doing so, not only are they working in the exact same environment where every DIY (Do It Yourself) photographer can work, but they are also missing out on a huge opportunity for greater sales and profits.

 Although they are trying to be different, they are not offering any of the variety that can come from the photography that can only be done in the studio.   Studio photography can offer a whole different variety of looks which adds to the variety.  It is even possible and suggested that the photographer charge extra for each service…one charge for location work and a second charge for creative studio work.  If properly presented, many clients will pay for the extra service.

Granted…many young people today reject the formal studio photograph as they have known it but with Virtual Backgrounds, that is not the way it has to be.  VB puts a contemporary touch on studio photography and, if wanted, the traditional look as well, simply by changing the backgrounds in seconds.

If you don’t have  a studio, almost any professional photographer can set up a home studio and with Virtual Backgrounds, offer the client an infinite variety of images.  All they have to do is show the client samples of what can be done and allow the client to decide.  The candid look that is achieved in outdoor portraits is fading from popularity and more attention is being given to other styles.

In today’s world, nearly every photographer is showing and promoting their candid look outdoor portrait work.  Just check out photographer’s web sites.  They all look pretty much the same.  The photographer takes the client out to various places and takes a bunch of candids, not all that different from what many people can do on their own.  If you really want to be different…to stand out and above others, it is a foolish mistake to leave out the variety that can only be generated in a controlled studio environment. Amateurs do not have studios.  Provide your clients the opportunity to choose the kind of photography THEY want.  How can you lose by offering more and being different? 


Last month we printed the wrong website address for our featured photographer, Tami Byrd.  Tami’s website actually is

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!

Studio Theater:
Put On A Show

Make More Money!

It’s the total experience that a photographer provides that is so important to overall success.  And yet, most professional photographers don’t give nearly enough attention to this important fact.  Most would prefer to keep their total operation as simple and quick as possible and have no idea how much they are hurting themselves.   For example, most photographers today do not have a studio of any kind. 

If the public is going to spend time and money to come to a professional photographer, they want to feel that they are indeed getting the ultimate in attention, performance and product and not just the bare bones.  This means that the business owner needs to do everything within reason to create a near theatrical experience.  It begins with the impression the client gets as their drive up to the studio, whether that studio be in a shopping mall, strip center, stand alone, or in a residence.  The home studio photographer actually has to make a bigger effort at studio theater because they are working out of a home and not a commercial environment and this makes people skeptical, at least initially.

Studio theater extends into the reception area where the client is beginning to form judgments about the business.  It then extends into the camera room.  You must ask yourself, what is the client seeing and experiencing?  Are they impressed or are they thinking, “Humph, this isn’t much.” 

The equipment that the photographer uses is critically important.  Is the photographer using a camera that looks like a camera any amateur might own?  What about the other equipment?  Is it special and intriguing?  Is there any mysticism…magic involved?   This is where Virtual Backgrounds can play such an important role.  It epitomizes studio theater because it is a tool that the public doesn’t really understand.  It represents “magic” when a black screen behind the subject instantly turns into so many different backgrounds.  It’s a “wow” experience for the subject and definitely something for the photographer to talk to the subject about it as they use it.   Virtual Backgrounds is today the only piece of studio equipment that can really impress the client as being special because it is mysterious.  Essentially every other tool that a professional photographer uses is now common place and in the hands of many amateurs.  Many amateurs today play with green screen backgrounds.   Even Photoshop and Painter are now fairly common.  Windows 7 is advertised nationally for its ability to enable anyone to “swap heads”.  Virtual Backgrounds is essentially the only tool that is still mysterious and magical.

Studio theater extends to the sales process and how the results of a session are presented and sold and how the product is packaged and delivered.  Salesmanship is critical.  Are the images just thrown up on the internet?  Is there a large viewing screen?  How the end product is actually delivered to the customer is also important.

It is time that every photographer take a critical look at their entire operation through the eyes of their customers and do everything possible to tune up their operation to provide the client with  a totally impressive experience from beginning to end.  Anything less can be more devastating to your business than you realize.

Joseph and Louise Simone Seminar

Filling Up Fast! Register Now!

August 1-5, 2011

The five day Joseph and Louise Simone workshop set for the first week of August at VB is filling.  Joseph and Louise are two of the world’s greatest professional portrait photographers working primarily in the classical style but often with a contemporary flair.  They are about as far from snap shooters as anyone can get.  They are meticulous about every last detail and the results clearly show it and demand the highest prices. 

The Simones do a very limited number of presentations and workshops.  Every professional photographer can profit from studying with the Simones.  It’s an experience that no one ever forgets as everyone goes home with a renewed motivation to improve their performance and rise above all others.  The Simones use their Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system for about 80% of their work.

Contact VB to learn more about this special opportunity and to reserve your seat.

VB Annual Print Competition Returns

Bigger and Better Than Ever

Virtual Backgrounds is again going to hold a print competition open to all users of a Virtual Backgrounds system.  There will be a number of categories and significant prizes for the top scoring prints.  We make it simple and inexpensive to participate in that we only accept 8 x 10 unmounted prints.  The deadline for submission is August 31, 2011, so start setting aside some of your best images and plan to participate.

Great News!
Business is Up!

A Virtual Backgrounds customer recently picked up their fourth Virtual Backgrounds system.  They report the following:

“Business has picked up very nicely.  We have had to hire more people.  Our event business has picked up with new customers and old customers coming back.  We do a lot of work for company events and now they are more comfortable spending company money on things like photographs at events than they were a year ago.  We now have 15 proms scheduled for this season so far.  Many times over the next few months all four of our Virtual Backgrounds systems will be out at different events.  We are very pleased with how our business has come back and is growing.”

This quotation is from a VB system user that wishes to remain anonymous because they don’t want their competition to know how well they are doing and how they are using the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system as their key product that makes them different.  We understand.  Many of our most successful system owners feel that way.  Unfortunately, it is a prime reason why so many non VB users don’t know what they are missing out on.

Many photographers are telling us that their business has picked up over the past several months but not to the point where it once was. The digital revolution which makes everyone a photographer and able to produce some pretty good photographs (a.k.a. the Perfect Storm), is never going away. It’s a matter of learning to live with it or quitting the business.

Learn How to Create Lifestyle Art Portraits

Richard Sturdevant Workshop Scheduled for July

Richard Sturdevant, viewed by many as the hottest photographer in the country, will be giving his 2 day workshop July 14-15, 2011.  This is his FIFTH workshop at the Virtual Backgrounds facility that has already drawn photographers from as far away as South Africa and Nigeria.

Richard is popular not only because he is such a good and entertaining instructor but more important, he is teaching image compositing which is a hot and profitable topic that is an exclusive tool of professional photographers.  Composites make money.

Richard set a new standard for print competition. Last year, he scored a perfect 100 on each of his four prints he submitted for PPA judging. No one has ever done that before. On many other occassions, Richard has earned perfect 100 scores on his prints.

Richard is also an avid user of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  It is a key component in his studio and is often part of his composites as well.  Richard’s workshop is scheduled to immediately follow the regular VB Workshop scheduled for July 11-13, 2011.  This means you can attend two workshops with one trip to San Marcos.

Group photo of the April 2011 Lifestyle Art Portrait class taught by Richard Sturdevant at Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn facility in San Marcos, Texas

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.