Mother, X-ray & Lab Technician, Combine Driver,and Professional Photographer
Mother, X-ray & Lab Technician, Combine Driver, and Professional Photographer: this is the world of Canadian photographer, Shauna Gustavson. Her diversity mirrors that of so many women who enter the world of professional photography today. Shauna lives on a huge grain farm in Eckville, Alberta, Canada which is about 30 minutes west of Red Deer. She first started in part time professional photography for a while in the 1990s and then returned two years ago. Her studio is located in her rural farm home in a 14 x 15 foot room that was originally designed to be a storage room. Most of Shauna’s advertising is by word of mouth although she is participating in several small country town trade shows. She specializes in weddings, children, and families.
ust a few months ago, Shauna learned about the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system and enchanted fantasy photography. She was going through an American Photographic Resources prop catalog and saw samples of the photography being done by another Canadian, Diane Wilson. She noticed that a key part of her photographs, the background, was created with a device she had never heard of before, the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system. The enchanted look for children and the Scene Machine totally fascinated her, tickling her imagination, her love for photography, and her desire to be truly different.
Shauna explains, “I have always been terribly interested in backgrounds. In fact you might say I have a background problem. I have about 40 backgrounds, canvas and muslin, in my little studio. Each new background was making my camera room smaller even though I have them hanging from the ceiling. It just wasn’t practical, but I wanted even more background variety for my subjects. Backgrounds are really important to a photograph. Once I learned about the Scene Machine system, it just seemed like the best way to go even though I thought at first that it was a very expensive piece of equipment for a very small town part time studio. I really got excited when I realized that I could make my own backgrounds or buy them for just a few dollars each and have no storage problems at all. Most of all, I can change backgrounds in seconds!”
Today I already feel that it was a great investment because now my backgrounds cost me almost nothing and they don’t take up space. I have already photographed my canvas and muslin backgrounds so I can now project them and I have so much more room in my studio. I am also starting to take my own backgrounds. We have planned a trip to Banff and I will capture a lot of backgrounds there.”
Shauna purchased her Virtual Backgrounds system without ever seeing one, not even at a trade show. She read everything she could find and noted that many well known photographers endorse the system including Canadian photographers Joseph and Louise Simone. She also looked up Diane Wilson’s Web site and was fascinated by the many samples of her work and her story. Shauna took a deep breath, ordered her system and arranged to have it delivered to Trevon Baker’s studio in Kalispell, Montana. She drove down to Kalispell and picked up her machine on May 29, 2009. Trevon provided her with four hours of training. She drove back home and immediately put the system to use. From the very beginning, her results were just great. “I didn’t really find the Scene Machine very hard to set up and use. I just followed the basic directions given to me by Trevon and that was it. It is really quite intuitive. Now I hear that some people think it is complicated - I don’t see it that way at all.”
“My mom has always been critical about my spending money and certainly she had second thoughts about me buying the Scene Machine, especially since it costs so much more in Canada than it does in the US because of our dollar and taxes. Now that she has seen it working she told me the other day that buying it was a really smart move.”
Shauna decided to make maximum use of her minimal space by buying a 9 x 12 wide projection screen so she could do full lengths and groups using her Sony A700 camera. She wanted plenty of room for backgrounds to surround her subjects.
Shauna decided to attend one of Diane’s five-day fantasy and enchanted workshops in San Marcos, Texas. She found the workshop to be exceptionally stimulating, upon her return home, she immediately began putting her new ideas to work. To get started, Shauna placed a notice at a dance studio that she needed models to practice with. She chose 17 kids. “The kids absolutely loved what I was able to do with them, with the costumes, the poses, and the backgrounds. There were two 16 year old female models. I was concerned that they might not get into the enchanted look, but I was so wrong. They were among my most enthusiastic subjects, and they told me they were going to tell all their friends about this new kind of photography because it was so much fun. All the kids loved what I was doing. They were saying Wow!”
Shauna is now actively making some of her own costumes and creating her own props. Just last week she found a big piece of driftwood down in a nearby creek bed. She dragged it home and it is now part of her mermaid beach scene.
“It’s so easy to use the Scene Machine. I absolutely love it. I love having so many backgrounds and I really love getting into enchanted photography. I want to make photography more full time, except when I am driving the combine for 2 months in the fall. I really don’t understand why every photographer doesn’t have a Scene Machine system. I just could not do what I have been able to do now if I didn’t have the Scene Machine. It makes me so different from any other photographer. The Scene Machine has taken things to a whole new level because of what it lets me do. My imagination is my only limit. Just about anything I can think of, I can now do right in my studio. I started getting good images the very first day I used it. I am looking forward to doing so much more with it.
Shauna’s Web site is www.sgustavsonphotography.ifp3.com. Shauna is another reason why we at Virtual Backgrounds enjoy our work. We thrive on helping photographers deal with the Perfect Storm and rise to new levels of success. That is what Virtual Backgrounds is all about! There is no other tool available that has the power of a Virtual Backgrounds system to enhance creativity and grow the business. Keep up the great work, Shauna!