Mark McCall-Lubbock, Texas
Discovers the Magic of VB
Like most professional photographers, Mark McCall of Lubbock Texas did not start out to be a photographer. He got a degree in mechanical engineering while working for a fund raising organization. He stayed with his first engineering job for just 2 months before he realized that is was not for him. He did stay with the fund raising company for 22 years but photography was always his hobby which gradually turned professional on weekends. The business grew over a 6 year period until he had no personal time left.
On July 4, 1996 Mark he made the decision to go full time into professional photography. It was a difficult decision because he was making a very good living and already had a child but he knew what he had to do. Initially he worked out of his home until he opened a commercial location in 2000 and then moved into a historic building in downtown Lubbock offering general photographic services including aerial, weddings, sports leagues in addition to general portraits. He climbed all the professional ladders including achieving the degrees of Photographic Craftsman, Master Photographer, and became a Certified Professional Photographer.
Mark never gave much consideration to getting a Virtual Backgrounds system until he heard about a photographer with a VB system who was going out of business and selling off everything. Mark explains, “I was not really in the market for a VB system but the seller dropped the price again so I bought it over the phone site unseen. I picked it up and stuck it in the corner of the studio for 8 months. I remember thinking, “What did I just do?”
“I finally called VB to attend a workshop and that is what really turned me on to Virtual Backgrounds. I had no idea just how powerful a tool VB actually is. I don’t get excited about equipment normally but this is the first time that I was absolutely blown away. There is so much potential in this machine…I just don’t know if I have enough hours in the day to get to do what I want to do.”
After learning the basics, Mark started doing images with his Virtual Backgrounds system specifically for competition. He submitted 4 prints created with Virtual Backgrounds and every one scored 80 and above. I got the Fuji Award trophy for one print at the Southwestern convention and “Best Image Of A Groom” at TPPA.” Mark is now suggesting that we rename the Scene Machine the “Merit Machine” because it has padded his already full trophy case.
Mark is creating special custom backgrounds to help him acquire and satisfy customers. For example one of his annual jobs is to photograph the incoming president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association. Mark has created a wide variety of campus related backgrounds and now shoots the new president of the Alumni with a variety of campus backgrounds right in the studio. “Now I can do it so quick without having to leave the studio. It is so simple, so quick…bang bang and bang and its done!”
Recently Mark was photographing a cheerleader group with a custom background he created specifically for them from their logo. “While photographing this group, a mother came up to me and said she liked my photographs with the custom background so much that she wanted to schedule me to be the photographer for another whole group of cheerleaders. This second group generated thousands of additional dollars. It was the custom backgrounds I was using that really caught this woman’s attention. Without that custom background, I never would have had this job.”
“What is also critical is that moms can’t capture what I am capturing. When a mom stands right next to me and shoots a photo right over my shoulder, the background flashes so brightly, it looks like an atomic blast went off. They sometimes even ask me what is wrong with their camera. I just chuckle. They can’t create what I am doing no matter what they do. That is how Virtual Backgrounds makes me really special.”
I recently told a photographer that the Virtual Backgrounds machine helps me in many ways. It helps me get jobs I could not have gotten before because I am able to offer something special, such as for sports leagues, schools, and other events that are hard to get because the low ball people are always cutting price. But they don’t offer the many advantage of Virtual Backgrounds. With VB, I don’t have to be the cheapest to win the contracts. VB is helping me be successful while other photographers are going out of business.”
Mark loves the work of master photographer William McIntosh. He cherishes his copy of McIntosh’s book, Location Photography. He intends to incorporate McIntosh’s style in the creation of what might best be called personality portraits where the total image, subject and background, are combined together to tell a story about the subject.
Mark concludes, “My only regret is that I did not get started using Virtual Backgrounds sooner.”
We expect Mark will be doing a great deal of highly creative and profitable work with his VB system in his studio and on location. He has also agreed to be present at the Virtual Backgrounds booth at the upcoming PPA Imaging event in New Orleans so he can personally share his enthusiasm for the VB process with others.