September 2008 Issue

In this issue:

Dream! Dare! Do!
`
Get a Big Tax Refund and a VB Systems
for Only $199 Down

You are What You Expect to Be
The Power of Positive Thinking

New Product - Super Quick Set-up
for Location Work

Featured Photographer: Elma Flores
She Dreamed! She Dared! She Did!



More Studio Pro Monostands are in Stock and Ready to Ship!



Another shipment of Studio Pro Monostands has just arrived.  The Studio Pro Monostands is proving again and again to be the ideal choice for the professional studio photographer.  The monostand provides much more flexibility than a tripod.  Because the monostand enables the photographer to concentrate on posing the subject and getting the just perfect expressions, in many ways it is like hand holding the camera only far better.  With a monostand, it is easy to lower the camera to almost floor level or quickly raise it to above head height.  It’s the perfect professional tool.  It looks so professional.  Amateurs have tripods or they hand hold their cameras; they don’t have monostands.

Contact VB consultant for more information on this product.


Florida Show Recap



The PP of Florida show was once again especially successful for Virtual Backgrounds.  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 Greg Stangl, popular speaker and master photographer from Aurora, Illinois.


Photokina – The King of All Photo Shows


The VB Photokina Team

If you are in photography, even as an amateur, you probably know about Photokina.  It is by far, by very far, the biggest photography exposition in the world and it happens once every two years in September in Koln Germany.  Thousands of people will converge on Koln for this massive show.  Anyone who is anyone in manufacturing photographic products exhibits at Photokina, and it almost seems like every photographer in the world attends.

Photokina is a six day show lasting from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Unlike most US shows, there is a minimum of lectures.  It is indeed a trade show where manufacturers show their very latest developments.  While the majority of the attendees come from Europe, Photokina attracts photographers, amateur and professional, from every part of the world although the number attending from North and South America are minimal.  Some of the larger exhibitors will invest many millions of dollars in their exhibit which are spread across many buildings, most of which are two story and all of which are interconnected.  It can take 30 minutes just to walk from one end to the other, without stopping to look at anything and taking the shortest possible route.

What is especially interesting is that there are many products that American photographers never see.  Over the years we have thought that if a product was worth anything it must be sold in America.  That just isn’t the case.  There is so much that American’s never see.  In the same way, Virtual Backgrounds is a product that many attendees have never seen before.

Virtual Backgrounds occupied a reasonably large space in building #6.  Our space had a full operating demonstration system, an office for meetings, and a large display area. The Virtual Backgrounds booth was deliberately located next to Denny Manufacturing forming a kind of center for backgrounds of all kinds.  The VB booth staffed by Henry and Marian Oles, company founders, Christian Feigl, Greg Stangl, and Cindy Cofer.  Also helping out was Georgia Photographer, Rainy Chastine.  Rainy, a relatively recent Scene Machine user and recent Featured Photographer in The Backgrounder, had never been to a Photokina.  She came to see the show and help out at the VB booth.  We also had a professional translator working at the booth.

One thing is in common with every professional attending Photokina.  They are all affected by the Perfect Storm and they are all looking for solutions to help them fight the storm.  In Europe, green screen is being used much more than in America so many photographers have discovered the advantages of background variety but they are seeking a method that requires less of their time and produces a high quality result.  That is what they find when they come to Virtual Backgrounds.

The next Photokina is 2010.  Mark it on your calendar.  Visit their Web site:  http://www.photokina-cologne.com/.  Try to attend and be sure to plan to stay for several days.  You will need a few days to take full advantage of this huge photography exhibition.





Hurricane IKE Cancels
VB and Ferro Workshops




While San Marcos missed a direct hit by Ike, there were many reasons why we had to cancel two workshops at Virtual Backgrounds.  The airports were closed.  The hotels were full of evacuees.  Many attendees were already canceling.

Virtual Backgrounds workshop attendees are being rescheduled for October and November.  The Ferro workshop will be rescheduled for early 2009.


VB Print Competition
December 15, 2008 Deadline


Image by Jessica Laredo

All entries for the 2008 Virtual Backgrounds print competition must be postmarked no later than December 15, 2008.  All prints must be unmounted 8 x 10.  The background must have been created with a Virtual Backgrounds system.  There are no other rules.

This is a most unusual print competition because everyone wins.  You don’t have to spend hours and hours mounting and framing.  We are interested only in the image itself.    Only 8 x 10 prints will be accepted so you do not have to spend a lot of money making expensive enlargements.

Each entrant will receive coupons for special offers from sponsoring companies.  There will also be prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.  So, you can’t lose.

Winners and honorable mention entries will be published in The Backgrounder which goes to over 18,000 professional photographers.

So, start choosing your images or start taking some new ones with your Scene Machine.  December 15th will be here before you know it.

For further information, contact Jim Wilson at Virtual Backgrounds.


Only Two More Workshop Dates Left in 2008 - Sign Up Now!



Virtual Backgrounds is closing out enrollment for the October workshop, but there is still room to sign up if you do it quickly.  The October workshop is October 20 - 22.

Enrollment is also filling for the November 17-19 workshop.

If you really want to learn about Virtual Backgrounds and how it can help propel your business to a new level, attend a VB workshop.  You’ll be amazed at how Virtual Backgrounds can help you rejuvenate your business.  If you purchase a system before December 31, you can enjoy huge tax savings under IRS Section 179.  Mention this to your accountant.


News Flash!



Diane Wilson, the flea market photographer, will schedule intensive training workshops covering her unique methods to turn theme photography into big profits. Stay tuned to next month’s issue for more details.


Another Unique Way to Transport a Background Screen



Photographers come up with all kinds of ways to transport their background screen, but this is a first by a Houston photographer.  The sun roof method worked just fine unless it rained or if he went under a low overpass!  His method reminded us of the time we stuffed a large screen into a piper cub airplane with about 4 feet sticking out the window.  The pilot said all went well except “the plane handled a little different from normal.”


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!


Dream! Dare! Do!

It’s so easy to be conservative and just maintain the status quo because change is scary.  On the other hand, just staying the same can be your ticket to extinction.  The world is changing faster than ever before.  Most certainly this is the case in professional photography.  The technology has changed and most importantly, our clients are changing.  What satisfied our clients just a year or two ago is no longer working.  The public, around the world, wants new styles and greater variety.

Today, the public can do so much of their own photography using their own digital cameras.  They only need the professional photographer if the professional offers something really exciting that they cannot do on their own.  Many pros are discovering that just working on location such as at the park is not working anymore.  The public can go to the same public place and make portraits on their own.

To survive, let alone prosper, you must dream about new ways to entice your clients to come to you.  You must dare to experiment and be different.  You must offer product amateurs cannot do, no matter how much they spend for their new digital camera.  Finally, you must smother the customer with professionalism.  There really is no other choice.

Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds users have a tool which provides them with unlimited creativity and flexibility.  They must continually come up with new ideas.  This is exactly what is happening with so many of our system owners; they are continually on the alert for new backgrounds, new contemporary looks, and new ways to pose and light!

Yes, the Perfect Storm is causing a lot of trouble for many photographers, but not for those who dream, dare and do.  We are so fortunate that in our profession, success and failure are still options.  Which do you choose?


Get a Big Tax Refund and a Virtual Backgrounds System for Only $199 Down



It may sound too good to be true but it really is true.  Thanks to Uncle Sam you can get a full Virtual Backgrounds System, pay only $199 down and get thousands of dollars back on your income tax from the government even if you have only paid a few hundred dollars at the time.  It is possible using the IRS Section 179 rule allowing you to fully deduct your new equipment in 2008.  Even if you have only made a small down payment on a lease to own and even if you take possession on the last day of the year!  It is one of those special tax benefits that you lose each year if you don’t use it.

Under Section 179, you can get your Virtual Backgrounds system and put it to use to start making new profits and get far more cash back from the government than what you have already paid toward it.  But you have to hurry.  You most take possession of the equipment before December 31, 2008.

For example, let’s say you select a top of the line system costing nearly $10,000.  You can buy it for only $199 down and for the next three months pay only $25 per month.  Then there would be 36 payments of about $350.  You can, however, claim up to $3,400 in tax credit at the end of 2008!  So, you have extra cash on hand as you begin making significant new profits with Virtual Backgrounds.

Don’t miss out on this major government benefit.  For more information, contact your VB consultant and your tax accountant.  Use it or lose it!


You are What You Expect to Be
The Power of Positive Thinking



It’s simple psychology 101.  If you see yourself as failing, it will probably happen.  If you see yourself as a success or at least moving toward success, success is far more likely.  Having a realistic attitude is critical to success in anything you do including operating your business.  Too many photographers today cry about losing business but do nothing to rejuvenate it.  Are you one of them?

We at Virtual Backgrounds see many thousands of photographers at trade shows who do not even seriously look at new products that can help them.  They mostly socialize.  There are many others who talk about all their new ideas, but who then go home and do nothing different.  There are some who buy equipment, like our Virtual Backgrounds equipment, and do not use it.  There are also those who adapt, change, and move forward with exciting new ideas which translates into success! These are the ones who will make it!


New Product Coming Soon
Super Quick Set Up for Location Work


With a rapidly growing number of location photographers including school photographers moving to using Virtual Backgrounds to enhance their sales, we are coming out with a special carrying case that makes it just as simple to set up a Virtual Backgrounds system as a regular camera and canvas background.

Introducing our new Quickie Case!  With it, you can set up your camera in just a few minutes.  Here is how it works.  The photographer mounts the camera on the Scene Machine.  The Scene Machine is mounted on a very popular gear tilt head.  The whole assembly is lowered into the custom case.  Close the lid and you are ready to travel.  On site, the photographer sets up the camera stand, opens the lid on the Quickie Case, lifts the whole camera/projector assembly out by the handle, and places it on the camera stand.  Plug the system into the power source and it’s ready to go.  Setting up the projection screen is just as simple.  Once you arrive at your location, you can be ready to operate in 5 minutes plus the time it takes to set up your lighting!

Don’t believe it?  Just try it for yourself.  It’s that simple to set up and take down a complete system.  There is no excuse any more for not having the many advantages of Virtual Backgrounds for your location work including schools and church directory work.  Take a closer look today!


Featured Photographer
Elma Flores

Living an Unexpected Dream!


Elma Flores self-portrait, captured with his Scene Machine

Click here to view more of Elma's portraits.

Virtual Backgrounds is probably the best investment I've ever made. It's not expensive at all considering all the possibilities. I look back now and wonder how I managed to work without it. Even though I regret not investing in the system years ago, I feel good that I finally made the decision to stay on top of the competition. It was one of the smartest things I've ever done for both my business and my family's future.

-Elma Flores, Austin, Texas


A career in photography was never part of the original plan for Austin, Texas resident, Elma Flores.   As she remembers it, she wanted a photograph of her 6 month old son before he grew out of his baptism outfit but, when her husband kept putting it off because of his work schedule  Elma grabbed the camera, set-up some lights, and began shooting. When she had the pictures processed at the grocery store, the workers were impressed. She then photographed her daughter. People kept asking where she had them done. When Austin photographer Don Rogers, saw her prints, he suggested that she get into professional photography. Don also encouraged Elma and her husband to become members of the Austin Guild and PPA.

Elma took Don’s advice and before she knew it, she was working out of her garage. Six months later she moved into a commercial studio. Elma's says "It all happened so quickly, I didn't even have time to think I could fail.” “Sometimes we end up sabotaging ourselves by thinking too much.”   At times it was "touch and go" because she didn't even know how to load film. She said I know it sounds crazy, but my husband Fred would load up my cameras before going to work.  She recalls one particular day when a lady came in a day earlier saying she was there for her appointment. Elma wanted to hide because her cameras had no film, but instead she called her husband at work who then guided her through the loading process.




The public loved Elma’s creative work and her business prospered. Working out of a commercial studio was not her dream.  Elma's dream was to someday have a home with an essentially separate studio. She realized that dream 3 years ago with a combination home and studio. Their Mediterranean home studio looks like a regular home from the outside, but from the inside, there is a very definite professional studio area. Elma’s home studio enables her to spend more time with the family. The home studio concept works because Elma is not interested in attracting strangers. She acquires customers by word of mouth and then they seek her out by making appointments to visit.

Although Elma much prefers portrait photography, she does a little bit of everything including weddings and commercial work. Elma's husband has retired since then and now assists her full-time. He especially helps her in the area of lighting and software. They have no other employees at this time. She feels that she has just the right number of customers and does not feel affected by the Perfect Storm.

Elma has known about Virtual Backgrounds for a number of years and she dreamed of some day owning a system. She deliberately avoided purchasing canvas or muslin backgrounds because she knew that a VB system was in her future. Finally just a little over a year ago Elma purchased a Scene Machine system and began using it immediately. Then, just two months ago, her husband Fred came to a three day Virtual Backgrounds training workshop and Elma attended Diane's Wilson theme photography workshop. It was the Diane Wilson workshop that really caught her attention. It covered exactly what she was looking for. She purchased all of Diane's background slides and a variety of props from American Photographic Resources. Armed with her new knowledge and backgrounds, she returned home and started calling friends to bring their children to be photographed in costume with themed sets. She immediately began submitting sample theme photographs to Diane and to Virtual Backgrounds for evaluation. There really wasn't much to say. Elma is doing great!




Elma now says she can kick herself for not buying a Scene Machine back when she first thought about it in 2000. "For years I was stuck with simple backgrounds and colored gels.”  The Scene Machine fills up my creativity and more. She first heard about Diane Wilson by reading The Backgrounder newsletter. I was looking for something different. I wanted to learn more. Elma states, "I absolutely enjoyed Diane's class and I could not wait to get home to try her ideas.”  No one else around me is doing this kind of photography. My customers are amazed at the results. They love it. Elma says, "I can't tell you how many parents have shed tears of joy while viewing the slideshow presentation."  It is truly magical.

Her enchanted introductory creation fee starts at $50. An important element of her program is that she only offers Timeless Wall Enlargements ranging from 16x20’s and larger. Her customers are told up front before they even set-up an appointment how the program works. Using visual comparisons she shows them an 8x10, 16x20 and a 20x24 of the same image. She then follows by asking them a simple question. Five, ten, fifteen years from now which one would you be glad you invested in. Elma has put a value to her creation and a value to their investment. They absolutely love the idea of wall enlargements and often buy larger than a 16x20. However, after their initial investment Elma does offer packages and plans to add slide shows to her program.




Now that she has her Scene Machine, she uses it for almost everything she does. "The Scene Machine makes it all possible for me,” says Elma.  “I love being able to go from background to background so fast and easy. I can't imagine using muslins or canvas that so many photographers are still using. I love being different. Virtual Backgrounds is probably the best investment I've ever made. It's not expensive at all considering all the possibilities. I look back now and wonder how I managed to work without it. Even though I regret not investing in the system years ago, I feel good that I finally made the decision to stay on top of the competition. It was one of the smartest things I've ever done for both my business and my family's future. I've never felt better about my photography as I do today, and I would like to thank Diane Wilson, Dr. Oles and all his staff at Virtual Backgrounds for making it all possible. I am now living my dream and having more fun than ever!”

Elma certainly is a prime example of someone who dreams, dares, and does.




Click here to view more of Elma's portraits.

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