Phil Teague-Christchurch, New Zealand

Dealt with Two Earthquakes
and The Perfect Storm

Phil Teague has been facing far more challenges than the average photographer. In addition to the effects of the perfect storm which is a major problem for professional photographers worldwide, Phil has experienced two devastating earthquakes that severely damaged his studios to the point where they were not usable. The second and much stronger earthquake took out most of the central business district in Christchurch, New Zealand. He does not expect to be back in operation for a few more months, but he is definitely coming back. Even Phil’s home has been earthquake damaged, however, his spirit remains strong.

Much of Phil’s life has been in photography, beginning as an after school job in the early 1970s when he did candid photography on the streets of Christchurch with print ordering the next day. He joined the NZ air force in 1974 and became an air force photographer. After 4 years with the RNZAF he left to travel and work overseas in a variety of jobs and country’s for 12 years. He returned to Christchurch, got married, and set up the PT Photography Studio. Then 17 years ago he purchased his competition, While You Wait Studios, which then specialized in head-shots, families and fast turnaround passport photos. He broadened its offering to all kinds of professional photography services including glamour makeover studio on the floor above the While You Wait walk in studio. He took the downtown Christchurch studio to full digital in the year 2001. While You Wait Studios had been in the same location for 75 years.

The first earthquake hit in September 2010, which did so much damage to the building that he had to move the entire studio operation to another building across the street. Then just as business was picking up again, the February 2011, earthquake took out his new location. The government gave him only a few hours to get in and remove what equipment he could before all access was closed because of the danger of the building collapsing. Phil’s Virtual Backgrounds system was one of the first things he saved. It wasn’t damaged by the quake.

At the moment, While You Wait Studios is closed, but he is hoping to reopen again in the central business district before Christmas. Fortunately, Phil has business interruption insurance.

Phil’s attitude about life and the future of his business is remarkably positive. Before the earthquakes, he had been experiencing the so-called perfect storm which was presenting challenges. He left doing wedding photography and outdoor photography because of the amateurs taking over. He then concentrated doing quality studio work with Virtual Backgrounds being a key component to enable him to produce unique products that the public wanted. He matches unique backgrounds to the client and provides them with a great deal of variety through changing both backgrounds and poses. He intends to go back to the same working formula as soon as he is in his new building. His space in the original building was only 10 feet wide which made getting into Virtual Backgrounds all the more important so he could make maximum use of very cramped quarters.

Phil purchased his Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system six years ago after seeing work created by Joseph and Louise Simone of Montreal and Trevon Baker of Montana when they did a workshop tour of New Zealand and Australia. “I just knew that this was the exact tool I needed to be truly different. I use it for everything I do. The screen never gets rolled up. Virtual Backgrounds is just a fundamental part of my business.” To get really acquainted with the whole Virtual Backgrounds concept, Phil flew to Texas from New Zealand to take the Virtual Backgrounds 3 day workshop.

Just about everything in Phil’s life has been altered by the quakes. His wife is a school teacher. Her school was destroyed. Now school is conducted in half day shifts in temporary facilities with boys attending school in the morning and girls in the afternoon. His home suffered enough damage that it may have to be eventually rebuilt or even torn down.

Virtual Backgrounds will continue to play an important role in Phil’s new studio. He clearly states, “I would not be in business without Virtual Backgrounds. The system certainly helps me to upsell my clients. They love the unique products I am able to create for them.”

Phil Teague is ready to get started again as soon as his new building is ready. He absolutely loves what he does.

Phil Teague’s website is

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