Since 1991, Richard and Patty Rives have operated Richard’s photography in San Antonio, Texas. The home based studio specializes in seniors, families, and tasteful boudoir. Richard tried a number of other career endeavors, but once he got into photography, the rest was history. Photography was his chosen life career.
Richard was always looking for ways to be different. He not only fed his creative instincts, but he also worked to distinguish his work from that of other photographers in his area. He first learned about the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system online. When he realized that it was manufactured just 45 miles away, Richard scheduled time to visit the Virtual Backgrounds studio in San Marcos, Texas for a personal demonstration. A highly knowledgeable computer expert and webmaster, Richard had already been experimenting with green screen to create backgrounds for his clients. However, he always felt that the results looked fake, and it took too much time to paste in backgrounds and more time to make corrections where green screen failed. He also felt that green screen cheapened his work, especially since many amateurs know about green screen and can now do their own pasting in of backgrounds. He also did not like placing his clients in front of the ugly green background and then having them come back later to view their images, after the backgrounds had been added. Richard prefers to show and sell immediately after the images are captured.
Richard’s visit to Virtual Backgrounds got him so excited about the optically based Virtual Backgrounds process that he immediately scheduled himself to attend a full three-day VB workshop. Richard states, “I was ready to go. Right after I ordered my Virtual Backgrounds system and attended the workshop, I took down all my muslin and canvas backgrounds that cluttered up my camera room taking up valuable space and got ready for my new Virtual Backgrounds system. I was completely convinced that this was how I was going to go from here on out. I received my system in January, 2008, and have been going strong ever since. Because I have beautiful gardens in my back yard, I offer my clients a choice of staying indoors and using Virtual Backgrounds or going outside or a combination of both inside and outside portraits. Richard worked with his new system for about a month before he fully integrated it into his operation.
Richard can’t stop talking about Virtual Backgrounds and how it has helped his business. In the last year, his average sales have grown 65%, primarily because of his Virtual Backgrounds system. He was also able to raise his prices. Richard states, “The Virtual Backgrounds workshop was wonderful. I learned so much. It would be foolish to get a Virtual Backgrounds system and not take the workshop. I keep learning every day. Recently I attended a session at Virtual Backgrounds with Trevon Baker. He is awesome. He helped me not only with Virtual Backgrounds but also with my lighting and posing. Trevon is very caring, very patient, and just a fantastic teacher. He showed me lighting techniques that I had never thought of doing and these techniques have really improved my photography. No matter how many years you have in photography, you can never stop learning and trying new things. That is what keeps me excited and ahead of other photographers. Even though I got the system, I did not fully appreciate the power of the background. It is a key part of the photograph that helps to set the tone. I now do 100% of my in studio work with the Scene Machine. There is no need for anything else. Why would I want all those nasty muslins and canvas in my studio? They are so limiting and they take up valuable space.”
Patty and Richard work together on most sittings. Patty concentrates more on working with the clients, fixing their hair and clothing in the camera room and handling general office management. She also does the studio’s books. Richard’s Photography is definitely a team approach. They thought of opening in a commercial location, but their home based studio has worked out just fine. They feel it is a much more relaxed atmosphere for their clients. Although their studio is also their home, there is no question when a client enters the front door that they are in a professional photography reception area and studio. The walls are covered with large portraits. It is just a few steps to the camera room and garden.
Richard continues saying, “I love photography. The Scene Machine enables me to be so much more creative. The Scene Machine helps me to work so much faster and do so much more. I always know that in the back of my mind if someone asks me if I have a certain background, I can say Yes! I make my clients look like they want to look. Backgrounds are very important in San Antonio. That is what everyone wants. Some kids even want gothic backgrounds. With the Scene Machine I am able to give them a bit of everything. Total variety is important. I even do a variety of colors.”
Richard adds, “I use a lot of props. Props help the total image pop. I even use a 1940s love seat my grandmother once owned. I have a standing lamppost with a real light on the inside and a variety of other props. Actually, just about every piece of furniture in our home can be brought into the studio to be used as a prop. I’ll never work without my Scene Machine again. Why would I want to go backwards? I am limited on space. The Scene Machine is perfect. It saves me a lot of stress and physical work. It is so easy to use the Scene Machine in my studio. I love it and it makes me money.”
“It’s no secret that the economy is not good but we all need to think positive. I try to avoid listening to negative things. The more negative things you listen to, the more negative you can get. Keep a positive outlook no matter how bad it is and you can soar. Things change. You will attract the right customers if you are always positive.”
There is no doubt that Patty and Richard will continue to be successful. Their home studio keeps their overhead down, and their extensive variety created with the Scene Machine and also on location in their backyard garden area will continue to please their clients. They offer the clients what the they want and so much more! That is the key to success not only in photography but in most any business.