November 2006 Issue

In this issue:

Winners Announced for the 2006 Annual Print Competition

The October Class was a Great Success and the Simones Will Teach Another Four Day Class in January

Can a Professional Photographer Compete with the Mall Santa Claus?

Featured Photographer:
Jessica Laredo de Sierra

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Learn and Earn
at Virtual Backgrounds

In 2007 Virtual Backgrounds is officially beginning an expanded educational program for professional photographers.  The program will be known as LEARN AND EARN.  The first program for the year will be Joseph and Louise Simone’s January 8th-11th four day seminar.  There are still seats available for that class. The class is filling up fast, so contact us today to secure your space in the class!

Our regular Virtual Backgrounds three-day workshops are part of Learn and Earn. In addition to these classes, we will be bringing in a number of nationally known speakers to present programs of various lengths covering many topics.  We will be moving our demonstration studio/ educational facility to a new and much larger area at The Old Mill by the end of this year. This will allow us to accommodate a larger number of participants.

Since it’s inception, Virtual Backgrounds has always been heavily involved in photographic education.  Company founder, Dr. Henry Oles, and Jim Wilson, Director of Education, regularly taught at the Winona School.  Education is a key component of Virtual Backgrounds.  The more that photographers know about Virtual Backgrounds, the more they will want to get a system, and the more successful they will be.

Watch The Backgrounder for announcements of future courses.

Be Taught by the Best!
March 16 - 23, 2007

Los Cabos, Mexico

Your course leader and business coach for the week is Michael Warshall.

Michael is not only a talented, world renowned Imagemaker, but without a doubt one of the world's most successful Wedding/Portrait Photographers.

Michael has created his own abundant wealth and financial freedom from photography, he is now giving back to the industry in the form of educational seminars designed to increase your studio's growth exponentially.

Click here for more information!

Winners Announced for the 2006
Annual Print Competition

With more than 100 entries submitted for this year's Annual Print Competition, the judges found it very difficult to select the winners.  The work submitted was exceptional.

First Place was awarded to Jessica Laredo de Sierra from Saltillo Mexico.  Jessica has been using the Scene Machine for less than a year and her work is astounding.  Quoting Jessica, “I love this machine more than ever, because it is making it possible to offer new and different alternatives in my school contracts.”  Jessica is continually coming up with new ideas for her Virtual Backgrounds system.

Second place went to Dave Filler of Kalispell, Montana.  Dave has been using his Scene Machine for much of the work that he produces. 

Third Place went to Teri Quance of Cypress, Texas.   She has been using her Scene Machine for a little over a year and is producing outstanding work!

A total of $2,247 in prizes were awarded to the first, second and third place winners.  We'd like to thank each of our generous sponsors.

In addition to the three winners, Virtual Backgrounds has named several prints into the Honorable Mention category. Click here to view all of the honorable mention prints in this year's very competitive print competition.

First Place - Jessica Laredo de Sierra
Pincel Digital (
Saltillo Mexico)

Second Place - Dave Filler
Stillwater Photography (Kalisell, Montana)

Third Place - Teri Quance
Quance Design and Photography (Cypress, Texas)

We extend a warm "Thank You" to each of our generous
sponsors of this year's Print Competition!

Images from the October 2006
Joseph & Louise Simone

Seminar at Virtual Backgrounds

The October Simone Seminar was a Great Success!
The Simones Will Teach Again in San Marcos
January 8-11, 2007!

This past October 23rd - 26th Virtual Backgrounds hosted two of the most well known photographes in the world, Joseph and Louise Simone of Montreal Canada. The October seminar was a great success and after such a huge response to the October class date, we have arranged with Joseph & Louise to host another workshop here in San Marcos January 8-11, 2007.

For those of you who plan to attend Imaging USA (PPA's National Convention) in San Antonio (just 50 miles away from San Marcos), this may be a great way for you to kill two birds with one stone and attend both events!

If you are looking to significantly elevate your creativity and produce a product that is unaffected by the Perfect Storm, you need to attend a Simone seminar.  It is four days of learning in a relaxed environment. Special attention will be given to how the Simones use Virtual Backgrounds.

If you are interested in attending this powerful January workshop that can change the way you do portraiture and help you defeat the PERFECT STORM, sign up now! Space is limited and the class is already starting to fill up, so contact us to reserve your space before this class, too, becomes a sell out!

Help for the Creatively
Challenged Photographer

Many photographers admit that creating new styles of portraiture for their subjects is a difficult and sometimes time consuming thing to do. This is often the reason they stick with the old styles using just canvas and muslin  The more creative juices aren't flowing.

A very powerful way to break loose and offer new concepts to your customers is to order a copy of Joseph and Louise Simone’s book, The Portrait – Mirror of the Soul.  This oversize full color picture book presents more than 20 years of the Simone’s work and has served as an inspiration to thousands of photographers around the world. 

Many photographers use the images in the book as samples that they reproduce with their own clients.  Copying a style is much easier than coming up with the style entirely on your own, and the Simones are pleased when photographers use their book as an “idea book.”

Photographers who use Virtual Backgrounds are especially pleased with this book because it provides numerous examples of how the Simones use the process to enhance their work.  The Simones have been using Virtual Backgrounds for nearly four years, both in their Montreal Canada studio as well as in their classes.

Contact us for more information on how to obtain your own copy of  The Portrait – Mirror of the Soul. It is an insiration to us all!

Can a Professional Photographer Compete
with the Mall Santa Claus Photographer?


Because of the thousands of low cost store photo set ups, many photographers have completely given up on doing Santa Claus photographs . A few photographers, however, are discovering that if they exhibit professional quality and create timeless portraits, the public will respond.

As reported in the October issue of The Backgrounder, Montana photographer Trevon Baker demonstrated this last Christmas when he ran a special “free sitting” promotion the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Trevon had such great success with this concept, that he will do it again this year! Some people have already scheduled months in advance.

The way it works is that Trevon has a very real Santa and uses professional lighting and posing along with well chosen projected backgrounds.  Last year, he was so busy shooting the first day, it wasn’t until that evening that he discovered that his average sale was nearly $100 each! 

Texas Photographer, Jim Richard has also picked up on the concept.  He just completed the Ocbober Joseph and Louise Simone seminar at Virtual Backgrounds and decided to combine Simone style lighting and posing with a Scene Machine projected background and a very real Santa Claus.   Jim has flooded his area with the below flyer and thus far, the response looks very good. His appointments are booking up for the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Yes, the mall Santa photographers have stolen a lot of the business, but we as professionals have allowed it to happen.  If we indeed utilize our talents to create really special photographs, the public will come and they will buy! 

Jim Richard clearly shows the public the real difference between a professionally created Santa portrait that will be a timeless family treasure and a mall Santa snapshot that will quickly go into a drawer.

Virtual Backgrounds Introduces the Christmas V
Background Library Set

Virtual Backgrounds has just added a new slide set to the vast array of Background Libraries collections that are available. Just in time for the holidays, we have released our Christmas V collection. This set of six slides is priced at a low $69 and should help to give you great profits this holiday season!

Click here to view enlarged images.

Featured Photographer: Jessica Laredo de Sierra

Winner of This Year's Print Competition

Our Featured Photographer for November is the FIRST PLACE winner in our Annual Print Competition for Virtual Backgrounds system users.  Jessica is new to Virtual Backgrounds.  Two years ago, she saw work created with the Scene Machine by Joseph and Louise Simone, and it immediately caught her attention. 

She purchased her Virtual Backgrounds system less than a year ago and came to a VB workshop in February to learn the basics.  She then returned to San Marcos, Texas to attend the four day workshop with Joseph and Louise Simone to further her Virtual Backgrounds and portrait photography education. The Simones are Jessica’s inspiration.  Jessica states, “I want to manage the light as they do.  They have taught me so much.”

A former interior designer and mother of three small children, Jessica began her professional photography career only five years ago.  She is working hard to change the way the public in Mexico sees professional portraiture.  According to Jessica, it is not customary for people in Mexico to hang large portraits in their homes. They will, however, hang art pieces.  Therefore, Jessica is working to create portraits that look like art.  Quoting Jessica, “I have to be brave…I want to see my customers hanging large portraits…and it is happening.”

Jessica is already seeing the results of her work with Virtual Backgrounds.  She recently used her Virtual Backgrounds system in two local schools for the Christmas Season. Jessica uses Virtual Backgrounds for most of her portraits. Jessica uses Virtual Backgrounds for all of her portraiture except when she is using solid black and solid white.  She says, “I see no need to spend money on any other kind of backgrounds.  I do my own slides.  I use color gels.  This is the way. ”

There is no doubt that Jessica Laredo de Sierra is on her way to introducing Simone type images to Mexico, and we expect that she will play a major role in causing the public to see professional portraiture in a new way.  Congratulations Jessica for a job well done!

[email protected]

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