Peter Budraitis-Glen Cove, New York
“We have a studio today because of the Scene Machine Virtual Backgrounds System.”
It has been 20 years since Peter M. Budraitis first opened a portrait and general photography studio in Glen Cove, New York. Pete didn’t start out with the intent to make professional photography his life career. After college he got into computer software development, managing a Tandy Computer Center and then operating his own software development company. But he always had a love for photography. In 1990, this led to Pete getting into photography on a professional level. Photography quickly became the major emphasis of Pete’s work. He has no regrets in changing his course to professional photography.
In 2003 Pete moved his studio to a new retail storefront location in the downtown area of his hometown, Glen Cove, NY. His primary emphasis is on general portraiture including families and children, seniors, executives, real estate professionals, general head shots and modeling portfolios. One area that Pete especially likes is doing first communion portraits. His first communion portrait business has grown to the point that it actually surpasses his Christmas sales. Pete attributes much of his growth in first communion portraits to his use of virtual backgrounds which enable him to create a multitude of different images in a very short time. This makes his work different from that of other area photographers and vastly different from anything mom and pop can create with their home digital camera, no matter how expensive that camera might be. “Buying a camera makes you a camera owner, not a photographer,” Pete points out.
Pete continues, “People come a long distance for me to create their communion portraits…often traveling for an hour or more because of what I am able to create for them with my Scene Machine that others cannot do. I offer communion themes through my wide selection of props and communion backgrounds, which I could not do without the Virtual Background system. I change backgrounds frequently and this encourages the parents to buy more images because they are all so different. I can even offer a coffee table album which is popular because when they buy multiple poses they are getting very different looks because I keep changing the backgrounds.” Pete has a separate website for his first communion work, www.firstcommunionportraits.com. “Parents see the kind of work I do and hear about it from others and they come because they want something unique to commemorate this special moment in their child’s life.”
Pete didn’t start out with a Virtual Background system but when he moved to his latest commercial location, he wanted to make a new splash. Up to this point most of his portrait work was done on location, especially in local parks, but this was where every other photographer and amateur could work. His overall plan was to be distinctively different and more creative and he felt he could do that if he took a chance on investing in a Virtual Background system, doing more of his work in his studio. “I just didn’t want to have another plain old studio with plain old backdrops like everyone else…I wanted to set myself apart.” That is exactly what he did by combining virtual backgrounds with his natural talent and creativity.
“The Scene Machine made me different, and it made me money. It would not be a stretch to say that we have a studio today because of my Scene Machine Virtual Background system. With virtual backgrounds, my average order went up dramatically. So much so, I feel like I should be paying a commission to the folks at Virtual Backgrounds with every portrait I sell. I attribute that to the variety that I could not have any other way – different poses and different backgrounds. Even if I have similar poses, the different backgrounds make the images appear very different. My customers love the variety.”
Pete attributes his ability to secure a local high school senior contract, held previously for over 30 years by a large studio that offered very traditional poses and backgrounds, to the Virtual Background System.
Family photography is also a big part of Pete’s work. He has many families that come every year for a family portrait. Unless the family specifically wants the exact same background every year, Pete changes the background. This encourages the families to return each year and buy additional prints. “I don’t like doing the same thing over and over again and I don’t like being like every other photographer.”
What about the future? Pete is concerned about the unfortunate side-effect of the digital revolution that makes everyone believe they can take pictures just like an experienced professional. However, he says that as long as he can produce high quality, creative images that are above and beyond what other photographers and the amateurs can do, he is confident that his clients will continue to come to him.