In June of 2009, Richard Sturdevant had two prints score 100 at the Texas Photographers Kerrville print competition! Out of 400 possible points, Richard gathered up a total of 377 and walked away with more honors than he could carry! A few weeks ago in Oklahoma, Richard totaled 382 out of 400 points! Even after this recent success, Richard is not nearly satisfied with his work at this point. He intends to do still better. He wants to be more competitive and help raise the professional standards for quality.
Like many photographers, Richard’s career has evolved. He sold cars and medical insurance, was a painter, and did computer illustration. He bought a 35mm camera to take photos of his art. He was hired as an artist, but the company turned its focus to photography. Richard’s success is that it is his nature to morph with the industry. He works hard and isn’t afraid to change with the times!
Richard felt that things were changing and it was time for him to get good with a camera. His next job was working with a photographer whose main work was seniors. Richard had grand ideas, but the photograher wanted him to stay traditional. Soon, the studio went out of business. Richard now knew he was going to have to go at it on his own. Initially business was slow but gradually word of mouth brought him work. “I just kept at it. I am basically self-taught and I am a workaholic. I’ve always been. I don’t sleep much. I love creating.”
As his studio business grew, Richard continually was searching for new ways to enhance his photography. Richard explains, “I had known about Virtual Backgrounds for several years but I also heard other photographers claim that the process really didn’t work and wasn’t worth the money. I decided to think on my own. I saw a lot of great images created with Virtual Backgrounds, and I knew that Joseph and Louise Simone used it very effectively so I got serious about it. I recognized that Virtual Backgrounds was a tool to be used in many different ways by the operator. I decided to use it to create my own style and very quickly, it became a cornerstone of my work.”
“Photographers just don’t seem to realize that Virtual Backgrounds can be used for just about any kind of photography. Look at my pictures on my Web site. A great many of them were created with the Virtual Backgrounds system but you can’t tell. No one knows it.”
“Too many photographers think that Virtual Backgrounds is supposed to work automatically and generate dollars for them. Virtual Backgrounds is a professional tool. It can be used for just about everything the photographer needs to do. It is not for amateurs. It’s too expensive and amatuers don’t know how to use it. There is no point-n-shoot mode with VB! That is what makes it even better for the professional. Many amateurs own the same camera I own, but they don’t have my talent and they don’t have my Scene Machine.”
Richard now uses his Virtual Backgrounds system for 95% of all his studio work. He still does high key with full length white paper and he can just go out his studio’s back door to get great outdoor images. His basic studio camera is the Nikon D300 with a 24 – 135 mm lens. He doesn’t like to use a lot of props in part because he doesn’t have room for them. Richard has created a lot of his own background images including images of his former muslin and canvas backgrounds. “I no longer have to worry about a bunch of wrinkly muslins hanging all over the place. I like a clean and neat studio. That is exactly what the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds system has helped me create.”
Richard’s Virtual Backgrounds system is portable. He takes it on location for doing proms, banquets and other events. He is able to set it up in minutes and the clients love the results!
We asked Richard why he felt that so many photographers don’t get serious about getting a Virtual Backgrounds system. He offers 3 specific reasons.
It is a major investment, but they don’t realize that they spend thousands of dollars on other simple backdrops that are nothing special and that burn out in six months. They just don’t get the numbers. It really is a good investment because it pays for itself and makes more profit.
People think it’s too hard to use. It isn’t that hard once you get going. When you buy the latest digital camera, that’s hard. It takes a little time and effort to learn to use it. I was doing great work with the Scene Machine the very first day I had it.
They don’t understand how much more creative it helps them become and that brings more profit. I use it all the time for my rent paying work. It enables me to be so much more creative even with my routine work. I love to design my own backgrounds and then use them. I am always coming up with new backgrounds and they cost essentially nothing. I even use it for some parts of my competition work but no one knows it except me.
Concluding the interview, Richard states in no uncertain terms, “If you took that Scene Machine out of my studio right now, it would cripple me. I have become dependent on that machine to help me do the work that it enables me to do. It just makes sense. It makes me money. I love it.”