September 2009 Issue

In this issue:

Our Biggest Warehouse Clearance
Sale Ever!

Henry Oles Featured in Texas
Professional Photographer

One Thousand Dollars or More Per Hour - Can This be True?

Featured Photographer:
Richard Strudevant

Halloween is a Portrait Moment

Halloween is becoming a big profitable event!  There are huge picture taking opportunities for children and adults in Halloween costumes.  Take some time now to figure out how you too can get in on the profits.  You don’t have to do it on your own.  You can become part of a major Halloween event sponsored by churches, schools, or other organizations.  You can take exciting portraits using your Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system especially tailored for the Halloween event, and make your prints and collect your money right on the spot.

All of our special Halloween backgrounds slide sets are on sale for 25% off now until November 1, 2009, while supplies last.  Contact Us to order your very own slide sets today!

Is the Recession

Coming to an End?

The worst economic recession since the great depression may be starting to end, according to some statistics from Watson Wyatt, a Washington DC global consulting firm.  Companies are starting to reverse previous salary cuts.  New employee freezes are showing signs of starting to thaw.  Contributions to 401K plans are starting to increase.  A recent survey showed that 33% of those companies that froze salaries will unfreeze them in the next six months.  Forty-four percent plan to roll back salary cuts in the next six months.  It is starting to look like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Professional photographers must remember that the severe decline is business was not just the result of the economic conditions.  The Perfect Storm, basically the digital revolution that enabled the public to produce good enough photographs and which allowed them to think that they don’t need a professional photographer any more, is not going to go away.  As the economy recovers, the professional photographer who is going to succeed absolutely must be developing new ways to wow the public with products the public does not have and cannot do on their own.  This is where Virtual Backgrounds plays such an important role!  It enables the professional to provide infinite creative variety without even leaving the studio.  Virtual Backgrounds is the only major piece of equipment that amateurs and low level professionals do not have.

The economy will recover with or without you.  Your business will recover only with your special efforts to make your product more enticing to your public.

Let the Government Help You Buy Your VB System

IRS Rule 179 is an important one to take note of.   If you take delivery before December 31, 2009, you can deduct the entire value of the equipment from your 2009 income even if you have only made partial payment at the time.  It’s a special incentive provided by the government for you to buy equipment now.  Here is how it works.  Let’s say you buy $8000 worth of equipment.  You can deduct the entire $8000 even if you have only paid for part of it by the end of the year.  Even if your photography operations were not profitable in 2009, you can still deduct the cost from any other income you had in 2009 which can trigger a refund greater than what you have paid.  Now is a good time to check with your accountant on this government benefit.  

The VB 50/50 Financing Program is Helps Photographers be Highly Successful!

Tough times call for innovation.  To help you out, Virtual Backgrounds has expanded our 50/50 financing program to customers in Canada and Mexico.  Both new and factory refurbished equipment can be financed! 

With the 50/50 financing program, you can buy a new or refurbished Virtual Backgrounds system for just 50% down with the remaining balance paid in 12 equal monthly payments with no interest.  There are no extensive applications or credit checks.  VB provides the equipment, the training, and the technical support to help insure success!  The idea is for you to easily pay for the system with new profits generated with your new money-making tool.  Many of our customers are so successful that they pay their balance off early!

For more information about this very unique financing program, contact a friendly Virtual Backgrounds consultant today.

To Wrap or Not to Wrap?
That is the Question!

by Jim Wilson, Cr. Photog.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were guidelines as to how to best spend your advertising dollars that would actually guarantee that each dollar spent would bring a significant amount in return?  Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.  There are many factors to consider which determine the success of the advertising dollars spent.  Successful advertising is more important than ever In these tough economic times.

It is critical to conduct research both before you choose a particular advertising program and after the plan has been implemented.  If you are going to spend the money on advertising you want the best possible return on your investment.

Recently it seems that every time a couple of photographers and I informally get together, the subject of vehicle wraps comes up.  This is where advertising is wrapped completely around a car covering virtually every square inch of the vehicle.  I recently conducted an impromptu experiment where I was with three other photographers at a busy street corner.  In front of us were three distinctively marked vehicles.  After the vehicles moved on, I turned to the others and asked if they noticed anything special about them.

One person recognized the Geek Squad car.  The other fellow recognized the word Hybrid on another car.  There was a third vehicle that no one seemed to notice.  It was the one with the vehicle wrap advertising bridal flower arrangements. Surprisingly, three photographers who were standing with me did not notice the car with the image of the bride and the greatest amount of stuff on it. 

There are those who consider vehicle wraps to be cool, but how effective are they really?   Even though all three vehicles were indeed noticed, I wonder if a minimal amount of advertising would get the same or even more attention than one completely wrapped.  The advertising cost, I know, would be much less expensive for the smaller ad.  In this one instance, more was not evidently better. 

It is important to measure the effectiveness of vehicle wraps as opposed to post cards, radio or TV advertising, newspaper advertising, or direct mail.  Ask your customers, “How did you hear about us?”  Put a special on the ad that lets you know that the customer read the ad to receive the discount.  Use your creativity to make the design be noticeable and a conversation generator! 

The bottom line is that you have to do the best research possible and then make a reasonable decision without putting yourself too deeply in debt.  Measure your success with hard numbers to help you make good business decisions in future advertising. 

It is important for those who are thinking about doing a vehicle wrap to research the concept and have the wrap professionally designed to maximize its potential to help grow the business.  One good thing about a vehicle wrap is that it can be on the vehicle for years at no additional expense!

We would like to hear your feedback about vehicle wraps.  E-mail us your thoughts, and with your permission, we will share your thoughts and experiences with this method of advertisement.  Thank you.

Elton Reynolds, Unicorn Photographics, Pflugerville Texas, is experimenting with vehicle wraps to help promote his photographic studio.  The wrap cost him $2800.  Elton states, “Sometimes we have to get more creative just to survive this perfect storm.  I sure hope that the extra marketing pays off.  At least it is at work 24/7 and rather hard to miss.  Now if I can just remember where I parked it last!”

Don’t Believe Anything We Say Just Because We Say It

Check It Out for Yourself

Most buyers are highly suspicious about the promotional claims that are made about any products.  At Virtual Backgrounds, we encourage any interested photographer to test out our equipment using your own camera.  We want our customers to be completely comfortable that the statements we make about the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and the phenomenal success reports we give each month in our Featured Photographer section of The Backgrounder are real and can apply to any photographer anywhere.

If Virtual Backgrounds were not what we say it is, we would definitely not encourage customers to come to a three-day hands-on training program before they buy a system.  If it were not what we say it is, we would never agree to finance the purchase with 0% interest.  Virtual Backgrounds enables the professional photographer to produce results that the amateurs and other professionals cannot do and to make more money!

Virtual Backgrounds enables the professional  photographer to produce results that the amateurs and other professionals cannot.  Virtual Backgrounds helps professional photographers make more money.

Woo hoo! SPI is Back!

Senior Photographers International, one of the best known associations for senior photographers, is back in operation and will hold their 2010 convention in Florida in early January.  SPI is again headed by Terry Harris, its original founder.  Terry is planning a really exceptional program for January, 2010.  Long time Scene Machine user, Cindy Cofer of Kentucky will be a featured speaker at this years SPI.

Look for a feature article on Terry Harris and the SPI organization in the next edition of The Backgrounder.  In the mean time, check things out at

Helping You Grow Your Business

Only Two More VB Workshops
Remain in 2009!

We invite you to attend Virtual Backgrounds three-day workshop with Trevon Baker and Jim Wilson.  This is your opportunity to learn how Virtual Backgrounds can be the most important tool you have that can help you generate new business even in these most difficult times.  There is no more powerful business building tool for the professional photographer.  Let us show you how.

October 19 – 21, 2009

November 16 – 18, 2009

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!

Our Biggest Warehouse
Clearance Sale Ever!

Click here to see this ad larger

If you ever thought about getting into Virtual Backgrounds but felt you could not afford it, now is the time to take a serious look.  Virtual Backgrounds has gone through the warehouse and marked prices down on some of our overstock items.

Background Projectors

We have a wide assortment of demo projectors including the Scene Machine Digital, Spectravue 300, and Spectravue 200.  We also have a number of refurbished Scene Machine 2100 projectors.  All projectors have been factory refurbished and carry a warranty, tech support and our three-day Learn and Earn workshop.  We even have several original Scene Machines that we will sell for just $500, factory refurbished to original standards.  All of these projectors are sold with the understanding that they can be returned within 6 months for full credit toward a new system assuming they are still in good condition.   Note: Older projectors require the addition of a camera rotator for optimal use with digital cameras.

Background Screens

The warehouse sale also includes a wide variety of projection screens from 4 ft x 6 ft portable screens to 9 ft wide x 8 ft high portable screens and even larger wall mounted screens.  The sale includes demo screens, Grade B screens and previously owned screens - all factory-refurbished.  Imagine a refurbished warranted background screen that is perfect for portable usage at daycare, preschools, etc. for as little as $500.


Also available at special pricing is the Studio Pro monstand, and a variety of lighting equipment.  Our Touch of Warmth reflector kits are available on sale for 25% off.

Our 50/50 financing plan applies to all sale equipment when it is purchased as a system (projector and screen)   If you are a legitimate professional photographer in the USA, Canada, or Mexico, we’ll finance the equipment for you with 0% interest.  Contact us for the details.

Contact Virtual Backgrounds today to learn more about the specific items that are on sale.

Henry Oles, VB Founder & President Featured in Texas Professional Photographer Magazine

Dr. Henry Oles, founder and president of Virtual Backgrounds, was featured in the August-September, 2009, convention issue of Texas Professional Photographer magazine.  The article that outlines his career which includes his work as a professional photographer, camera store owner, university professor of psychology, and manufacturer of the popular Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds systems. 

Click here to read the article.

One Thousand Dollars
or More per Hour

Find out How on October 5th & 6th!

Chris Wunder often advertises his workshops on how the independent professional can make $1,000 an hour or more doing school photography.  He also talks about how the independent photographer can get into church directory photography.  Is there really any truth in these statements?

Actually the truth is that a school photographer can generate well over $1000 an hour.  Here’s how.  Let’s say that the competent school photographer photographs one child per minute.  That’s 60 children per hour.  A very reasonable average sale is $30.  That’s actually $1,800 per hour!  Plus Wunder proposes that a good school photographer can do one child in less than 40 seconds thus increasing the hourly gross sales to $2,000 per hour!

In these days of severe financial trouble for many photographers, $1000 or $2000 an hour would be absolutely phenomenal.  Of course, there are various expenses, but a school photographer can make great money.  A church directory photographer can also do very well.

Chris Wunder regularly teaches workshops under the sponsorship of Marathon Press to acquaint struggling photographers with the thriving church and school markets that are now open to local independents instead of just the large national companies.  If you are looking for new ways to generate income, it would be wise to attend a Chris Wunder workshop.

Chris’s next workshop on church and school photography will be October 5 & 6, 2009.  The price per day is $69 or $119 for both dates. It will be held at the Virtual Backgrounds Learn and Earn Center in San Marcos, Texas.  The prcCall Marathon press at 1-800-228-0629 for further information or contact a consultant at Virtual Backgrounds.

Featured Photographer:
Richard Sturdevant

Graphic Designer
Exquisite Photographer

In June of 2009, Richard Sturdevant had two prints score 100 at the Texas Photographers Kerrville print competition!  Out of 400 possible points, Richard gathered up a total of 377 and walked away with more honors than he could carry!  A few weeks ago in Oklahoma, Richard totaled 382 out of 400 points!  Even after this recent success, Richard is not nearly satisfied with his work at this point.  He intends to do still better.  He wants to be more competitive and help raise the professional standards for quality. 

Like many photographers, Richard's career has evolved. He sold cars and medical insurance, was a painter, and did computer illustration. He bought a 35mm camera to take photos of his art. He was hired as an artist, but the company turned its focus to photography. Richard's success is that it is his nature to morph with the industry. He works hard and isn't afraid to change with the times!

Richard felt that things were changing and it was time for him to get good with a camera.  His next job was working with a photographer whose main work was seniors. Richard had grand ideas, but the photograher wanted him to stay traditional. Soon, the studio went out of business.  Richard now knew he was going to have to go at it on his own.  Initially business was slow but gradually word of mouth brought him work.  “I just kept at it.  I am basically self-taught and I am a workaholic.  I’ve always been.  I don’t sleep much.  I love creating.”

As his studio business grew, Richard continually was searching for new ways to enhance his photography.  Richard explains, “I had known about Virtual Backgrounds for several years but I also heard other photographers claim that the process really didn’t work and wasn’t worth the money.  I decided to think on my own.  I saw a lot of great images created with Virtual Backgrounds, and I knew that Joseph and Louise Simone used it very effectively so I got serious about it.  I recognized that Virtual Backgrounds was a tool to be used in many different ways by the operator.  I decided to use it to create my own style and very quickly, it became a cornerstone of my work.”

“Photographers just don’t seem to realize that Virtual Backgrounds can be used for just about any kind of photography.  Look at my pictures on my Web site.  A great many of them were created with the Virtual Backgrounds system but you can’t tell.  No one knows it.” 

“Too many photographers think that Virtual Backgrounds is supposed to work automatically and generate dollars for them.  Virtual Backgrounds is a professional tool.  It can be used for just about everything the photographer needs to do.  It is not for amateurs.  It’s too expensive and amatuers don't know how to use it. There is no point-n-shoot mode with VB!  That is what makes it even better for the professional. Many amateurs own the same camera I own, but they don’t have my talent and they don’t have my Scene Machine.”

Richard now uses his Virtual Backgrounds system for 95% of all his studio work.  He still does high key with full length white paper and he can just go out his studio’s back door to get great outdoor images.   His basic studio camera is the Nikon D300 with a 24 - 135 mm lens.  He doesn’t like to use a lot of props in part because he doesn’t have room for them.  Richard has created a lot of his own background images including images of his former muslin and canvas backgrounds.  “I no longer have to worry about a bunch of wrinkly muslins hanging all over the place.  I like a clean and neat studio.  That is exactly what the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system has helped me create.”

Richard’s Virtual Backgrounds system is portable.  He takes it on location for doing proms, banquets and other events.  He is able to set it up in minutes and the clients love the results!

We asked Richard why he felt that so many photographers don’t get serious about getting a Virtual Backgrounds system.  He offers 3 specific reasons.

1.     It is a major investment, but they don’t realize that they spend thousands of dollars on other simple backdrops that are nothing special and that burn out in six months.  They just don’t get the numbers.  It really is a good investment because it pays for itself and makes more profit.

2.     People think it’s too hard to use.  It isn’t that hard once you get going.  When you buy the latest digital camera, that’s hard.  It takes a little time and effort to learn to use it.  I was doing great work with the Scene Machine the very first day I had it.

3.     They don’t understand how much more creative it helps them become and that brings more profit.  I use it all the time for my rent paying work.  It enables me to be so much more creative even with my routine work.  I love to design my own backgrounds and then use them.  I am always coming up with new backgrounds and they cost essentially nothing.  I even use it for some parts of my competition work but no one knows it except me.

Concluding the interview, Richard states in no uncertain terms, “If you took that Scene Machine out of my studio right now, it would cripple me.  I have become dependent on that machine to help me do the work that it enables me to do.  It just makes sense.  It makes me money.   I love it.”

Click here to see Richard’s Web site:

The industry will be hearing a lot about Richard’s pet project which he calls Sturdavinci.  It is several sets of special tools Richard developed for photographers and artists to use with Photoshop that enables them to produce results similar to Painter but by using Photoshop.   The design kits include actions and brushes along with tutorials.  The kits cost from $129 to $229 and are available now directly from Richard.

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Times might be tough but there are more profit making opportunities than ever before. 

Come and learn about them at the Chris Wunder workshop October 5-6, 2009, or at the October and November Virtual Backgrounds workshops.

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.