-John and Teresa Chandler
John and Teresa Chandler were both U.S. Marines. They met in Japan and were married 31 years ago in Hawaii. Teresa was a budding professional artist. John was into scuba and as a side job became an underwater photographer. He published three books, one of which is called A Divers Scrapbook - The Underworld World Of Okinawa which is actively selling. He is published in many magazines, had his own TV show, and had a weekly article on underwater photography in a Japanese newspaper. John also spent a great deal of time in the base photo lab and learned from the resident photo pro. This is where he began learning portrait photography, from outstanding masters in Japan. Teresa did portrait oils that made her very popular in the area as well.
The Chandlers retired but chose to remain in Okinawa until September11th where they began to get homesick for their kids and moved back to North Carolina to live in an 108 year old home. Suddenly, they had very little to do, so they came up with the idea of opening a portrait studio in their little town of Richlands, North Carolina. The population of Richlands is only 950 but there are 150,000 in the surrounding areas. They chose to remodel a 2400 sq foot tobacco pack house (tobacco warehouse) in their back yard and turn it into a portrait studio. Starting with weddings, they officially opened their portrait studio in March 2003.
Teresa set down her brushes to become the official poser and John took care of the technical side and shot each photograph. The Chandlers quickly learned something critical to their future in professional photography. They came to realize that their real competition was not only other photographers, but also the general public. Their potential customers were quickly becoming their competition because they were taking their own portraits. The Chandlers realized that they absolutely had to do something different or not survive. Since everyone has canvas and muslin backgrounds, including many amateurs, and since amateurs had as much right to photograph in the parks as they did, theChandlers decided to look for ways to leap far ahead of other photographers and the public.
They discovered the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and decided that it was clearly the way to go if they were to separate their work from that of other photographers and definitely from the amateurs. Their goal was to be significantly different!
John states, “When you buy a Scene Machine, you commit to a higher standard of photography. When you buy a canvas background, you commit to just spending more money, and you are just being static. Everyone has canvas and muslin backgrounds. Canvas just hangs there and does nothing. The Scene Machine is dynamic.”
The Chandlers drove to San Marcos, Texas not only to pick up their Virtual Backgrounds system but also to attend a 5 day Joseph and Louise Simone class. The Simone class was way beyond their expectations, and it taught them how to take their portrait work to a much higher level through classic lighting, posing and the use of the Scene Machine. In a way, John sees himself playing the role of Joseph Simone, and Teresa pretty much plays the role of Louise. They nearly always work together in their studio. John feels that the Simones have been their guiding light.
“You can do so much with Virtual Backgrounds, if you want to. It doesn’t just roll down. It isn’t green screen with all its limitations. Our customers love Virtual Backgrounds; they love getting involved in the creativity of the portraiture. That is a key item that has increased our sales. We involve the customer in every background selection. They are right there to view their results. VB really helps to bring in the customer and their family. They all love it and really get a kick out of it!”
John continues by stating, “I don’t understand photographers who aren’t interested in Virtual Backgrounds. They just don’t get it. I put them in the same category as all those photographers who would not look at digital cameras for the longest time. When a photographer invests in more canvas, he is investing in antiquity. It just hangs there. It’s not going to change. It takes up room. I have over 80 backgrounds and 2 Simone Collections and they are all in a little notebook!”
“There are some photographers who see the Scene Machine as a bridge too far. I think that is wrong. It really narrows the gap and it provides the photographer with infinity.”
When we asked John Chandler how the perfect storm is affecting the Chandler Studio, John responds, “It isn’t affecting us because we understand it. If we didn’t understand it, we would not be in business. We have to do something the moms can’t do. That is what the Scene Machine does for us. If I were not doing things different, I would not be in business.”
John also has very strong feelings about having a formal dedicated studio. “Moms don’t have studios; they shoot outdoors in the same places many professionals shoot. I have to be different and the Scene Machine and the studio set me apart.”
“You guys have raised the level of our studio. Conservatively speaking, you have tripled our income. One last thing I want to say - some of the best stuff you guys have is your customer service. Carolyn and Jim are so helpful; I enjoy working with professionals. It’s comforting.”
Virtual Backgrounds exists because of customers like John and Teresa. They take our product and build their studio and bottom line around it. They gladly share their feelings with other photographers. Virtual Backgrounds salutes the Chandlers!