September 2007 Issue

In this issue:

Get a VB system for Only $199
and Get a Huge Tax Refund!

What's New at VB?

The Florida PPA Convention -
A Busy, Busy Show!

Deborah and Rick Ferro
Offer Unique Children's Clothing

Rick Harding, The Prom King,
Featured Speaker at VB Workshops

Jessica Laredo - The Making of
a Photographic Artist

Is Virtual Backgrounds
Really a Good Investment?

The major hesitancy many photographers have about adopting Virtual Backgrounds is the initial cost which can vary from $4000 to about $9000.  However, they don’t realize what a phenomenal investment Virtual Backgrounds really is.  First, they forget what they typically spend for each canvas painted background they purchase.  With Virtual Backgrounds, each background costs an average of $10.  They also don’t realize that a single prop set made of polystyrene can cost as much as $10,000!  Also, sets have to be stored somewhere and after they are used for a year or so, they are old news and need to be replaced.  Changing sets can take a lot of time.  With Virtual Backgrounds, changing a background takes seconds!

When all things are considered, including customer response, a Virtual Backgrounds system is a phenomenally good investment for the professional photographer.

The Professional Photographer's Perfect Storm

Contact us for your
FREE copy today!

Joseph and Louise Simone
Featured in Professional
Photographer Magazine

Click to Read Full Article

The front cover of the September issue of Professional Photographer magazine is a phenomenal portrait image captured by Joseph and Louise Simone, two of the world’s leading professional photographers and two devoted users of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.

Look inside on the Contents page.  You’ll see a full page photograph by the Simones using Virtual Backgrounds.  Then go to the article on page 96 – 102.  The indoor portraits are also created with the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.

This is the Simones' key to fighting the Perfect Storm - create timeless images that “wow” the public that they cannot possibly do on their own.  It works!

Déjà Vu in New Orleans

When Henry Oles, Virtual Backgrounds President, was checking into the Wyndham hotel in New Orleans for the PP of Louisiana convention in August, he noticed a beautiful winding staircase.  He immediately got his Canon G6 camera that he uses for capturing backgrounds and took several shots.  The next morning he captured a few more from a different direction of light all the while feeling that he had been there before.

When the trade show began, he inserted some sample slides and by coincidence, he used a slide that showed a beautiful winding staircase, only it looked just a bit different from the one he just photographed.  Indeed, he had photographed that exact same staircase more than 10 years earlier while he walked around New Orleans on a “background safari” looking for new and different backgrounds.  Only back then the hotel wasn’t the Wyndham, it was the Westin hotel.  Since then, the hotel has made major changes to the staircase, changing the carpeting and redoing the original handrails with dark wrought iron supports.

This isn’t the first time that he returned to a location only to find that it had been redone.  The Royal Orleans hotel lobby was exactly the same situation - completely redecorated and perfect for being photographed again.  This is the beauty of the Virtual Backgrounds process. One can use backgrounds that no longer exist and in some cases capture them again with an entirely new flavor.  Keep this in mind as you conduct your own background safaris.

The above image exists in the
Scenic Library III Slide #4.

The above image was captured by Henry Oles in August 2007 at the PPLA convention and trade show.

Jennifer Turner Tunes Up Her
New Scene Machine

Austin, Texas photographer Jennifer Turner recently received her new Scene Machine.  Her first photos were of her Santa Claus in preparation for Christmas special.  Jennifer got a Scene Machine Digital with an 8' high x 9' wide projection screen.  Jennifer misplaced her camera mount so she simply held her camera in place, guessing at the proper position, and she was able to achieve these great Santa images!  Not bad Jennifer!  Not bad at all.  Jennifer Turner is also the President of the Children and Family Photographers of America.

Readers of The Backgrounder are reminded that it's never too soon to start to prepare for special Christmas promotions.

Virtual Backgrounds will be a Large Part of the Upcoming Texas PPA Fall Seminar
Click here for more details.

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!

2004 first place portrait by Carrell Grigsby

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!

Images by Jessica Laredo

Get a Virtual Backgrounds System for
Only $199 and Get a Huge Tax Refund!

It may sound almost too good to be true but it is possible to get a full Virtual Backgrounds system for just $99 down and a $100 document fee.  Then you pay only $25 per month for three months and then low regular payments for 36 months.  Plus, if you take delivery before January 1, 2008, you can deduct the entire cost off of this year's income tax.  That means cash in your pocket this year and a system to help you make more money next year and for years thereafter.  Read on for details.

Virtual Backgrounds has entered into a special agreement with Independent Leasing, an official PPA approved leasing company, to enable photographers to acquire a complete Virtual Backgrounds system. There are no tricks.  It is just a fantastic financing program that enables any photographer with reasonable credit to acquire a system now, start earning with it now, and get a substantial amount of cash!

Independent Leasing offers both leasing and regular financing.  This is a financing plan.  The new plan makes it financially easy for a studio to get started earning new dollars now instead of waiting for a year or more to save up enough.   Plus, when a system is purchased late in the financial year, the owner can actually get a much larger IRS tax refund than the payments have that have already been made, based on full depreciation.  Therefore in addition to the extra income Virtual Backgrounds generates, the photographer also gets a substantial refund from the government for full depreciation.

The IRS program is called IRS Section 179.  You can purchase up to $125,000 in new equipment before December 31, 2007 and take the total depreciation now, even if you have only started to make your payments.  It really is a huge cash gift from Uncle Sam that you lose if you don’t use.

Here’s an example:  Purchase an $8000 Virtual Backgrounds system now for only $199.  Pay only $25 per month for the first three months.  Your total investment is about $274.  But, when you do your 2007 taxes, you will write off the full $8000.  If you are in the 35% income tax bracket, you will reduce your taxes by $2800!  It’s the same as cash in your pocket that would have otherwise gone to the government.   Contact your Virtual Backgrounds consultant now for more information. It's a plan that you can't afford to miss!

What’s New at Virtual Backgrounds?

New Blackscreen

The Blackscreen mesh that is placed in front of the ultra reflective screen used with Virtual Backgrounds has been a key component for more than 10 years.  Today, Virtual Backgrounds has a completely new Blackscreen that is far more effective than ever and is completely compatible with digital cameras.  It is known as Super Blackscreen.  Some digital cameras can “see” our original Blackscreen under certain conditions. Not any more.   This new Blackscreen provides more than ½ of an f stop of additional washout protection.  With the new Super Blackscreen, it is almost possible to say that the photographer can use any normal style of lighting and still be compatible with Virtual Backgrounds!  Long gone are the days when the photographer had to specially light the subject just because they were using Virtual Backgrounds.  The new Super Blackscreen is absolutely amazing.

Another bit of good news is that photographers who have the old Blackscreen can replace their fabric with the new Super Blackscreen at a special price.  Contact your Virtual Backgrounds consultant for more information.

Reflective Material for Your Props

Imagine the ability to have props that can be any color you want them to be.  It’s possible when your props are covered with our reflective material. The reflective material for covering props is sold in various sizes by the square foot.

Think about all the things you could cover with reflective material and all the new creative images you could create.  The possibilities are infinite.  It’s one more major benefit of owing a Virtual Backgrounds system. 

New Studio Monostand

Virtual Backgrouds searched the world for the best monostand available and then added a number of custom modifications.  The result is the professional Studio Pro Monostand.  Because it is counterbalanced, you can easily raise your camera up to near the ceiling or down to near the floor.  You can also wheel it around the camera room almost as if you were hand holding your camera. With your camera and projector mounted on the monostand, you are free to work with your subjects, helping to pose them for that perfect image. 

Amateurs hand hold their cameras and take snapshots.  Professionals mount their cameras on a professional monostand and then use their portrait skill to enhance the subject in order to get the best results.

Contact your VB consultant for more information on this new product.

The Florida Professional Photographer's Association Annual Convention
and Trade Show – A Busy, Busy Show!

Henry and Marian Oles in the Virtual Backgrounds booth at the
PP of Florida Annual Convention and Trade Show

The PP of Florida show was especially successful for Virtual Backgrounds.  A long line of photographers formed to rush into the trade show when it first opened.  Interest expressed in the Virtual Backgrounds process was exceptionally strong.  Nearly everyone is looking for new ways to attract customers and sell more photographs, and the Virtual Backgrounds process is being widely recognized as a key tool to help make this happen.

The trade show booth was manned by VB Founder and President, Henry Oles and his wife Marian Oles.  The Oles frequently participate in trade shows so they can talk with customers as well as prospective clients, and so they can keep up on the latest developments in professional photography.

Rick and Deborah Ferro Offer
Unique Children’s Clothing

Master Photographers, Rick and Deborah Ferro are well known throughout the country for their unique photography, for their excellent seminars, and also for their very creative use of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system.  Now, they have added a new dimension to their busy lives.  They now offer a very attractive, affordable and diverse line of children's clothing for professional photographers to use when photographing children.

Rick and Deborah believe that when the photographer combines storytelling clothing with a complimentary background that fits the scene of the story that the resulting image created increases the photographer’s ability to sell large canvas wall art.  Their exciting new images, such as “Children's Fairytale Expressions" are attracting a great deal of attention today by parents as well as photographers.

Deborah says, “In this new world of digital, we must offer the client something so artistic that they could not create themselves or see at their local franchise photography studios. We must combine photographic skill, artistic techniques, storytelling clothing and backgrounds to create a one of a kind work of art.”

Rick and Deborah have a mall display that showcases their “Storytelling Artistry.”  The number one question when a new client calls after seeing their work is, “Are these photographs or paintings?”  Deborah says that combining the Scene Machine with their line of clothing has separated them from their competition and created a brand that is unique and extremely profitable!

The Ferro's new company is called as Ferro Photo Props and can be seen on their website. Check it out!

Rick Harding, the Prom King, Featured Speaker for the October and November Workshops

Photographers attending either the October or November Virtual Backgrounds workshops will have San Antonio photographer, Rick Harding, as the featured speaker for the Wednesday morning presentation.  Rick owns 8 Scene Machine systems. He uses them mostly on location for major events including proms.  Rick goes into great detail on how he sets up his Scene Machine systems for his highly successful event photography, as well as his location school photography.

Jessica Laredo
The Making of a Photographic Artist

Professional photography is a profession that is open to anyone who can pick up a camera and press a button. Through a combination in inherent talent, unique opportunity and a lot of hard work, very few become true photographic artists who create with their camera and lights timeless portraits that form a unique combination of photography and traditional artistry.  Jessica Laredo of Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico is a perfect example of an aspiring artist who is working her way to becoming one of the top photographers in Mexico and the world.

The daughter of an architect and an English teacher, Jessica played with art tools left behind by her grandmother and read art books.  Her school days led her to seek a degree in Interior Design with sub emphasis on art, painting and drawing along with developing computer skills.  Her program also included courses in the basics of photography, color harmony, contrast and depth.  One particular professor managed to excite her artistic skills.

Jessica then studied at the Academy of Art in San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Mexico where she began to discover her own special style.  At Vanderbilt University in Tennessee she began having fun photographing friends and truly fell in love with photography.  She sees photography and painting on parallel tracks, and she freely moves between both, using both the camera and the artist's brush. Her teaching career took her to Europe where she visited museums and art galleries and viewed the artistic creations of many great artists. After marrying, she lived in Manhattan which afforded her more opportunity to visit museums and further develop her eye for color and design.

It was after moving back to Monterrey Mexico and having her first child that she began to get serious about applying her skills towards professional photography, starting with a Kodak DC400 and then graduating to a Canon 10D. At first she photographed friends and their children but then moved on to offering her services to the public.

A recent highlight in her career that really caught her attention was her discovery of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system in a shop in Monterrey.  She was intensely fascinated.  Shortly thereafter she attended a day long program by Joseph and Louise Simone who used the Scene Machine in their creation of timeless photographic art pieces.  She could not stop looking at and studying the Simones' work.  She immediately decided that producing work like the Simones was her goal and she set out to get a Scene Machine of her own.  A year later, in February 2006, she purchased a Virtual Backgrounds system and attended the Virtual Backgrounds workshop in San Marcos, Texas to learn the technical basics.  She read and reread the book, Background Power! and intensely studied the Simones' book, The Portrait - Mirror of the Soul.

She also studied Don Blair’s techniques from his book The Art of Seeing Light.  When she heard that the Simones were conducting a 4 day course at Virtual Backgrounds, she immediately signed up.

Jessica soon got started capturing her own background images that reflected her developing and unique style.  She photographed a special window her father had built and brought it into her studio.  She sees her Scene Machine as a magic tool.

The very first photograph that Jessica ever submitted for competition won first place in the Virtual Backgrounds annual print competition (click here to see last year's winners).  The idea for the portrait of her daughter started as she vacationed in Nuevo Puerto Vallarta, watching her children playing in the sand.  She did some sketches and then decided what components she needed to create the ideal image in her studio with the Scene Machine.  She visualized creating a “set” in her studio, with a variety of props picked up at the beach including sand and a starfish.  Her distant background was a PhotoShop enhanced view of the pounding surf.  With this set, she photographed each of her children, allowing each child to be their natural selves.

Jessica’s photographic business is thriving.  Along with her timeless portraits, she is also bringing her style to school photography and has already secured several contracts.  Jessica promises that her school portraits will not be the traditional head and shoulder “mug” shots.

Jessica feels that she is rewarded for her work in two ways.  First, it is with the money she is paid which enables her to continuously invest in the latest tools. Second, it is the smile of satisfaction that she sees in her customers as they receive their finished portraits.

In Mexico, as in most of the rest of the world, it is more popular to hang artwork in homes than it is to hang large portraits.  Jessica hopes that by creating photographic art in her portraits, she will be able to encourage her customers to order large wall portraits for display in their homes.

Jessica Laredo is well on her way to becoming a truly great photographic artist and we at Virtual Backgrounds are very happy that she is making such wonderful use of her Scene Machine 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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