Featured Photographer Elma Flores
Living an Unexpected Dream!
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.