November 2007 Issue

In this issue:

Richard Sturdevant's First Images!

There HAS to be a Better Way!

It's that Time Again!
Turn the Holidays into New Profits

Warehouse Overstock Sale
Half Price Sale on Selected Backgrounds

Featured Photographers
Horacio and Nunila Domenguez

IRS 179
Just Like a 35% Discount on a Virtual Backgrounds System!

Even if you put your Virtual Backgrounds system into service on the last day of the year, you can depreciate all of it this year for tax purposes - even if you have only made one payment in the financing!  It’s a huge bonus from Uncle Sam.

Here’s how it works.  Let’s say you purchase an $9000 system and put it into service at the end of December.  You’ll be able to deduct the full $9000 this year.  You’ll have an immediate savings on your 2007 taxes.  It’s like a huge gift to be spent as you wish.  Plus, you will be able to deduct the interest you pay on the financing throughout the term of the transaction.  It’s one of those tax benefits that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it for the year.

Talk to your VB consultant or discuss it with your accountant.  If you wait until January, you won’t get your tax refund until 2009.  Plus, you won’t have your Virtual Backgrounds system in use to help grow your business throughout 2008.

For additional information, contact your VB consultant or call Bob Bell at Independent Leasing at 1-800-685-7571.

Why We Still Use Slide Transparencies in
Virtual Backgrounds instead
of Digital Backgrounds

This is one of the most common questions we get at trade shows.  Today we seem to think that if a computer isn’t involved, it isn’t worth considering.  In reality, there are times when non-computerized methods are a far better solution.  Virtual Backgrounds is one of those instances.  Slides are just the better method.

There are four major problems with using computer backgrounds.

1.  Computer projected backgrounds increase the cost of the system considerably.

2   Computer generated backgrounds increase the size of the system.

3.  The photographer cannot see the background live as the image is created.

3.  Most importantly, computer generated projected backgrounds would be far inferior in quality to a transparency background.  Even an HDTV does not come close to this the clarity you see when projecting a high resolution slide.

A transparency or slide is just an elegantly simple and effective means to create backgrounds.  It just works great.  Transparencies are going to be with us for a long, long time to come because they are the medium used when making motion pictures. Slides aren't going anywhere!

Click here to learn how to create
your own custom slides!

What if Virtual Backgrounds REALLY Makes all the Money We Say it Does!

We all tend to be paranoid about any product promotion - and rightly so.  However, what if a product indeed does all the things that we claim it does?  What if you could be a lot more successful as a professional if you were using a Virtual Backgrounds system right now?  Money not made is money lost.

There is really only one way to find out for sure.  Come to a class.  Talk to an owner.  Read everything that is available.  Most importantly, try it for yourself.  The proof is in the pudding.

As 2007 draws to a close, take a good solid look at your business and ask yourself, “Isn’t it time to test a Virtual Backgrounds system?”  What if it really does work as we claim and I have been missing out all this time?"  We challenge you to test drive the product that will significantly change your photography business!

Casual Comment from a
Virtual Backgrounds Owner

A Virtual Backgrounds system owner recently wrote to us with the following comments that we wanted to share with our readers:

By the way, I went to another dance studio today to show off my images that I did this summer with the Scene Machine.  Although the owner told me that she already had a “contract” with another photographer, whom she admitted she has known for a long time, I could tell that she was “salivating” over MY images!  She really thought that the Virtual Backgrounds were incredible.  I have a feeling she might abandon her “friend” and call me.  I am going to send her some additional samples and a letter in the mail, telling her that she can always give me a call should the other photographer become “unavailable.”

This is one more clear example of the power of Virtual Backgrounds. 

The writer of this comment did not want to be identified in that he prefers to not let his competition know how he is getting their contracts.

Image by Don Blair and Trevon Baker.

Investment VS Expense -
Which is Which?

Every purchase any business person ever makes needs to be prudently analyzed to determine if it is direct expense or a future investment.  Expenses consume cash and do not necessarily bring any return.  An investment brings new money in. A good investment can quickly pay for itself and year after year will continue bringing in new money.

Let’s look at an example.  A photographer owns a digital camera that is performing quite well.  He decides to get a newer model.  His customers will never notice the difference in the results.  The difference may be that insignificant.  He spends a large sum of money for the new cameras and retires the old cameras to a closet.  This is almost 100% expense, because the new camera is not going to bring in any new money.

Let’s look at another example.  A photographer buys a new piece of equipment like Virtual Backgrounds.  The new piece of equipment enables the photographer to do things he never could do before.  The public clearly recognizes the new products made possible with this investment and clamors for them by increased orders and giving the photographer lots of dollars.  This is clearly an investment that will pay for itself and go on making money.

Every purchase can’t be an investment.  Sometimes we just spend without any way to get a foreseeable return on that investment.  If we have too many expenses and not enough investments, we won’t survive.  It’s a road to a disaster.

Business advisors tell us to evaluate every purchase and concentrate on making investments that will pay big dividends quickly, continually, and for a long period of time.  That’s exactly what Virtual Backgrounds is all about.  It can be the best investment you will ever make for your studio.

Virtual Backgrounds Makes the Professional Photographer Really Stand Out!

With the amateur photographer getting more sophisticated with their automatic digital cameras that now take really good photographs that can be printed at home or at Wal-Mart, it is critical for the professional photographer to concentrate on producing photographs that the amateur, even the so called “pro-amateur," cannot do on their own.  This is exactly where the Virtual Backgrounds process becomes so important.  Amateurs do not own a Virtual Backgrounds system.

Photographers place too much emphasis on capturing their subjects in the public arena, such as public parks, while hand holding their cameras and snapping away.  This is exactly where and how the amateur does their "work." If the amateur takes enough shots, he or she will get some good ones that will be satisfying. There's no need for a professional then!

By contrast, the professional must concentrate on doing special work that clearly the amateur cannot do.  This means clearly superior lighting, clearly superior posing, and a variety of images captured in the controlled studio environment.  Amateurs do not have studios, they do not have professional lighting, they do not know much about professional posing, and they do not have tools like the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system which makes infinite variety possible.

At professional trade shows, photographers run around searching for little gadgets, another muslin, a couple of picture frames, or a new camera they don’t really need.  Instead, they should be looking for tools that will clearly help to elevate them above the hoards of amateurs.  You need the right tools to survive in today’s world and a Virtual Backgrounds system is just the answer!

Do You have a Virtual Backgrounds System That You are Not Using?

Believe it or not, there are some professional photographers out there who have a Virtual Backgrounds system that they are not using.  Perhaps it is an old model.  Perhaps they purchased it used.  Most likely they never came to a workshop to learn how to use it and probably never read the instruction manual.  Perhaps they played with it a little and then quit.

There is NO excuse for any professional photographer who has a Virtual Backgrounds system to not have it in use. Even the older systems work; they just don't have all the latest features.  Good news:  every system Virtual Backgrounds has ever made can be upgraded!

If you are still in business but not using your system, make the decision to learn to use it properly. It isn’t hard.  The best way to do this is to attend a workshop or at least contact VB for help.  It is our goal that every machine we have ever sold is being used to help it’s owner significantly increase business and profits.  That’s exactly what the product was made to do. It won’t produce a single dollar if it isn’t being used.

There is no more powerful studio tool that professional photographers can use to grow their business, grow their sales, and grow their bottom line profit.

Joseph & Louise Simone will be Conducting a Seminar at Virtual Backgrounds in March 2008

Two of the world’s greatest photographers and teachers, Joseph and Louise Simone, will conduct a five-day workshop March 3-7, 2008.  Their last two classes at Virtual Backgrounds were filled to capacity and had a waiting list.  Mark these dates on your calendar.  Details will follow.  If you would like to reserve a spot, call your friendly Virtual Backgrounds consultant now. Don’t wait.  This class will fill quickly!

I am Not Interested in
the Facts - I Already
Have My Mind Made Up

Is this the way you think about Virtual Backgrounds?  Even though they have never taken a serious look at Virtual Backgrounds, let alone actually tried the technology for themselves, there are photographers out there who hold negative attitudes towards the most powerful product they could acquire for their studio to grow their profits.

This is one reason why we publish The Backgrounder.  Every month we provide 16,000+ photographers with factual information including dozens of sample images, testimonials, and special stories on featured photographers from around the world who actively and successfully use Virtual Backgrounds in their operation.

The fact is that Virtual Backgrounds is the most powerful tool photographers can add to their studios.  It enables the professional photographer to be more creative, not only with background variation but also in their lighting, posing and expression.  Instead of delivering a set of proofs, all of which look almost alike, Virtual Backgrounds enables the photographer to make every image different.  Variety is the key to “WOWing” the customer and getting larger sales.

Ask around and you may still hear a know-it-all photographer tell you that Virtual Backgrounds is not a good investment, that there are a lot of problems with it, and that you can’t get really good quality images with it. These people don't do their homework.  Look at the images that photographers from around the world are creating.  Talk to other photographers who have been trained and who are producing phenomenal images and enjoying new profits.  Read the book, Background Power!  Come to a Virtual Backgrounds workshop.  Visit with a photographer who is successfully using Virtual Backgrounds.  The facts are perfectly clear.

The opportunity to be more profitable is available for you right now.  It’s up to each individual photographer to take advantage of these opportunities.

Annual Print Competition

It's time to start gathering up your best prints to submit for our Annual Print Competition. More details coming soon!

Click here to view last year's winners!

First place portrait by Jessica Laredo

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!

Richard Sturdevant's First Images!

When Garland, Texas photographer Richard Sturdevant gets an idea in his head, he typically dives in full force.  This is exactly what he did with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  He thought about getting a system for more than a year, but once Richard decided to do it, that was it.  He wanted it right away! 

He picked up his new system in San Marcos on a recent Wednesday because he needed it for a job on Saturday. He received some basic instruction and took off.  We warned him about jumping in so fast to use it with "real" customers. We generally advise that people take a short amount of time to learn how to use their new tool, but he ignored the warnings. 

The day after the shoot, Richard sent us his very first images along with the statement “This is the most exciting product I have ever used in professional photography! I can’t wait to get time to work with it some more.  My client loved the results, and everyone I show these images to just flip over it.  I used the system straight out of the box!”

Richard Sturdevant is not an ordinary photographer.  He has a lot of natural talent in art and experience in graphic design. As the graphic design industry changed, he discovered he could do so much so quickly with a camera, Richard made the switch from a career in graphic design to photography.

Sturdevant has burst on to the pro photographic arena with a vengeance.  His prints often score in the 90s and he is typically in the fight for special awards.  He recently won first place with Fuji for the Best Illustrative Photograph.   He has only been in professional photography for 10 years and until recently, did not even enter prints into competition.

Richard chose to get into using the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system to enable him to extend his creative horizons even further.  Based on these very first images, he is off to a great start.  Remember his name.  You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from Richard Sturdevant.

Click here to view more of Richard Sturdevant's images created with his Virtual Backgrounds system.

There HAS to be a Better Way!

By Henry Oles, Founder and President

Many people ask me how I started the company, Virtual Backgrounds.  Frankly, it came from thinking that there had to be a better way to do studio photography, creating results that enabled me to transport my clients to any environment without leaving the studio.  We made a lot of money by doing outdoor wedding portraits back when other photographers were insisting on doing standard traditional studio photos.  Unfortunately, in Ohio, the outdoors were not usable most of the year and even in the summer, we faced rainy windy days.  A rainy Saturday in wedding season could cost me thousands of dollars.  So, I researched how Hollywood did movies on a stage but made it look like the actors were anywhere but on a stage.  That is when I discovered the front projection background process.

Back then, the equipment was very primitive and hard to use but I bought a system and my wife and I made it work in our studio.  Our customers loved the results and our background system became a key component that enabled our little studio to grow dramatically.  I eventually began writing articles about our success with projected backgrounds and that led to speaking engagements.  I wasn't satisfied with the design of the systems on the market at the time, so I decided to design a better system.  I felt there “had to be a way” to improve the process and that is exactly what we did.  The first Scene Machine was born.  Over the years we’ve made many technical improvements in both the projector and screen. At the same time, photographers around the world learned to use the process more and more effectively.

Today, I am somewhat like an evangelist - preaching and writing about the many benefits of using Virtual Backgrounds.  This is even more important today as professional photographers experience the Perfect Storm.  It is thrilling to have some of the world’s best photographers now using Virtual Backgrounds, helping to carry it to new even higher levels of sophistication.

I learned as a child that it was important to be different - to not be just like everyone else.  That’s why I never wanted our photography to be routine.  I wanted our customers to be treated to services and an end product that they couldn’t get anywhere else.  This was exactly what Virtual Backgrounds is supposed to be - a tool that greatly extends the creativity of the photographer and as a result, generates significant profits.

It's That Time Again
Turn the Holidays into New Profits!

Houston area photographer Jim Richard and Montana photographer Trevon Baker are getting ready for their special Christmas promotions once again which in the past few years have proven to be highly successful.  Both photographers offer high quality “timeless” portraits with Santa as a clear alternative to the cheap mall Santa portraits.  Both photographers have found a serious demand for professional quality Santa portraits.  Jim Richard is also promoting Christmas portraits with a special Christmas set but without Santa.  Jim and Trevon are ardent users of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system when creating their Christmas settings.

Click on the image to enlarge

Warehouse Overstock Sale
Half Price Sale on Selected
Background Libraries

Now until the end of 2007 we are taking 50% off of the list price of the background library sets listed below. Order before December 31st to get this great discount on fabulous slide sets!

Click on the links below to view each respective set.

Activity Halloween III Scenic Library III
13th Century Convent Halloween IV Scenic Library IV
Charlotte, Texas La Placida School Life IV
Chichen Itza I Marian Oles Collection Sparkles I
Chichen Itza II Old Barns I Stained Glass I
College Campus I Old Barns III Stained Glass II
Computer Graphics II Old Barns IV Stained Glass III
Fall Colors II Old Barns V Stained Glass IV
Grand Hotels I Old Masters I Stanford
Grand Hotels II Old West II Summer Greens I
Grand Hotels III Old West III Westminster Abbey I
Grand Hotels IV Rustic Warehouse Westminster Abbey II
Halloween I Schlesweg Dom
Halloween II Scenic Library II

Offer good only while current supplies last.

Featured Photographers:
Horacio and Nunila Dominguez

Horacio Swaps Family Car
to Get a Scene Machine

Fifteen years ago, Horacio Dominguez of Ocotlan, Jalisco Mexico was so struck by the concept of having a Scene Machine for the studio operated by he and his wife, Nunila, that he was willing to do just about anything to get his hands on one.  He knew of a used Scene Machine that was available in Guadalajara, but he didn’t have any money.  His wife told him he was crazy to even think about owning a Virtual Backgrounds system. 

Nevertheless, Horacio drove to Guadalajara and returned with a Scene Machine but without a car!  He made a trade.  Nunila said, “No, no, no! This is not possible. We are going to have to ride the bus.”  The bus became their sole mode of transportation for a year as they worked to perfect their use of the Scene Machine and generate new profits.

Normally, Horacio and Nunila work in complete agreement but this time was an exception, and for a little while, life got worse.  They only had a few graphic slides and had no idea what to do with them. Somehow, Horacio had a dream that this machine would be a key to their studio success.

When Horacio got home with his Scene Machine, he did not sleep for three nights.  He worked diligently to learn to use the Scene Machine.  Speaking only Spanish, he did not feel comfortable calling Virtual Backgrounds for assistance and he could not read the English only manual. Still, he remained hooked on the concept and was sure that he had made the right decision.  Nunila posed for Horacio for hours.  Back then, all test shots had to be done with a Polaroid adapter on their camera.  They soon had the Scene Machine working to the point where they could use it on "real" customers. Once this happened, they immediately started making money with it!

To promote their Scene Machine, they set up a booth at a commercial trade show.  They took Polaroid prints and people formed long lines to experience the magic of the Scene Machine.  Other trade show participants complained that the lines were blocking their booths!

All of this happened 15 years ago.  By comparison to today’s Scene Machine, they were using old technology.  They didn’t even have a Blackscreen in front of their projection screen.  They made the Scene Machine work to differentiate their photography from that of other photographers and to excite clients.

Today Horacio and Nunila use their Scene Machine for 99% of their studio work.  It is the tool that is a critical key to their success.  They have converted from film to a Kodak 14N digital camera. Their business is doing great.  Some of their colleagues have suggested that they don’t need a Scene Machine any more since they can digitally plug in backgrounds.  Horacio and Nunila laugh at such comments.  The Scene Machine saves them so much time while enabling them to be so creative.

Horacio and Nunila came to San Marcos, Texas and attended to the special Virtual Backgrounds workshop held last month in Texas for professional photographers from Mexico.  They came to learn more about their system and get more new ideas. They were excited about meeting the Virtual Backgrounds team and exchanging ideas with their colleagues.

Quoting Nunila, “As the main photographer, I want to say publicly that because of Virtual Backgrounds I found out that my husband had a great tenacity to become what he is now.  When he traded our only car for a Scene Machine, he promised to buy a new car with the Virtual Backgrounds profits and he did.  I really appreciate his tenacity to fall in love with Virtual Backgrounds and to work with me to use it so successfully in our studio.  It is such a wonderful tool.”

Horacio and Nunila came to San Marcos with a stack of samples of their work produced with their Scene Machine.  Everyone was impressed with the wonderful work they are producing with their old system and screen without even having the advantages of a Blackscreen protective layer.  We immediately decided that we wanted to share their work with others as an inspiration.   Horacio and Nunila truly show what can be accomplished with a Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system by those who have both talent and a willingness to apply that talent.  We are thrilled to show you their results.

All of these prints were created with a 15 year old Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and without a blackscreen! WOW!

Click here to view many, many more of Horatio and Nunila Dominguez's images created with their Virtual Backgrounds system.

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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