Featured Photographer – Don Hileman
Taking New Visions Photography to a New Level with His Scene Machine

“I’m not traditional.  I would not want to be traditional ever again, because when I was traditional, I was a starving photographer.  Once I went to what I now do, I started to enjoy it more, I had more fun, and my studio doubled its business and continues to thrive even though so many other photographers are suffering.”

That’s how Don Hileman of Boardman, Ohio, describes what happened to his business when he dared to be innovative by purchasing a Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and completely changing his style of photography.  His studio name, New Visions Photography, sums it up.  Don Hileman has new vision - and he is applying that vision to propel himself above his competitors. His business is growing when so many other photographers are sinking. 

Hileman states, “I got the Scene Machine for two reasons.  First, I was bored with tradition.  I’d buy a new muslin or canvas and become bored with it in days.  My backgrounds were so limited.  And I did not like working outdoors using the same scenes every other photographer could use.  Secondly, I knew I wanted to be really truly different.  I did not want to produce products like every other photographer - and we have a lot of them in my area.  I had a vision, but I just wasn’t sure what it was until I discovered the Scene Machine at the Triangle Institute in Pittsburgh.  I read up on it and quickly realized that it was the tool for me to help me chase my dream of being really different.  It was my New Vision!”

Don has been in photography for only 7 years, starting off working as an assistant in a studio and then in a color lab.  He opened his own “living room” studio in Boardman, Ohio, about 50 miles south of Cleveland and soon graduated to a commercial storefront location.  At first he concentrated on weddings but that business has been drying up because of digital cameras. He moved his concentration to portraits, fashion and commercial.  He got his Scene Machine just 2 years ago.  About the same time, he realized that perhaps his high school seniors might like his high fashion look.  He tested it on some seniors and the concept took off.  “Moms are just as enthusiastic about his new visions as are the daughters.  Even the guys like the new look.  Seniors today hate the traditional studio look - they want so much more - and that is what I am able to give them.”

“Traditionalistic photographers may complain about what I do.  They may not like my close ups, the heads I crop off, the fan that blows the hair, or the way I light, or the backgrounds I use.  That’s perfectly OK with me because the people who pay me real money like it.  That’s what really counts.  I am going to submit some of my work for PPA judging but the judges may not be ready for my new look.  That’s ok.  I love it.  My customers love it.”

Don started getting great results with his Scene Machine almost immediately but it took him several months before he really felt comfortable with it.  He uses his Scene Machine for 100% of his studio work.  He even uses it to achieve perfectly black backgrounds and it is a great method to create perfect high key white backgrounds without the normal hassle of getting the background lights just right.  Don states, "I was sloppy at first - now I have that under control.  Now my muslins are just decoration, hanging on the wall and covering up props and other junk that collects."

For his seniors, he does a lot of high-fashion looks but Don also includes a few traditional backgrounds and poses.  He can change from one to the other in seconds.  On a typical senior sitting, he offers 50 to 60 exposures, changing backgrounds frequently.  He wants to provide maximum variety.  Many of the local yearbooks allow seniors to submit tasteful images of all kinds.  Most of Don’s subjects submit the fashion look.  That’s what they want.

“It doesn’t matter how you shoot - traditional or modernistic.  The Scene Machine fits all needs.  When I want tradition, I project my muslins and canvas.  I like to make my own background slides - I create them with my computer and turn them into slides.  I really like being able to tell my clients that no other photographer in the world has the backgrounds that I have.  I love to color harmonize every shot.  Even if other photographers have a Scene Machine - I use mine differently from anyone else.  That’s why my customers come to me.  They love what I do for them and they love the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system. 

Don’s primary camera is a Canon 20D.  He works with Photogenic lighting.  He has great plans for 08, primarily in expanding his work with area high school seniors and he is also starting a new kids program.

In conclusion, Don says, “Professional photographers are going to have to step up our work and bring something new to the table if we want to survive.  We have to do things the soccer moms and others cannot do, no matter how expensive a digital camera they buy.  They don’t have the Scene Machine and the professional’s talent.  Regardless of how I change my style in the future, the Scene Machine will change with me.  I am limited only by my own imagination.”

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