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Photography/Portrait Background Projection Systems Chattanooga


I'm considering investing in a portrait background projection system for my studio. Have you used this kind of system?  If so, how did it work out? Is it a cost-effective and customer drawing service to offer portrait customers?

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Hello Jim,

Thank you for your questions regarding portrait background projection systems. To answer your first question, I have never used a background projection system. There are several reasons, for me, which makes the use of a projection background unnecessary. This does NOT mean that I don't think I could profit from it. I'm sure I could find a way to make money with it. But the question for me really boils down to how would a background projection system fit into my current business model and how might it contribute to growing or expanding my business operations or making my business more profitable.

You will notice that the companies which sell Background Projection Systems (BPS from here out) are themselves actually targeting independent photography studios. High end professional portraiture produced by actual professional and licensed photographers. These are individually owned and operated portrait studios which use multiple flash (which includes HAIR and BACKGROUND FLASH) and other flash modifying equipment as well as a variety of themed props which compliment several projected backgrounds. Now, there are some small-time portrait companies which would want to disagree with me about their use of BPS. The proof is in the pudding. Now Jim you didn't describe any details about the kind of portrait business you are operating.  A BPS makes NO BUSINESS SENSE for cookie-cutter portrait studios which are actually based on "getting people in and getting people out" because of low portrait prices among other factors. Perfect examples of SUCCESSFUL cookie-cutter portrait businesses are Olan Mills, Portrait Innovations and such other smaller companies which operate with this same business model. So you do not and you will not see Olan Mills and Portrait Innovations using a BPS.  It makes no business sense. If you are operating a cookie-cutter portrait studio and you decide to purchase and use a BPS, you will see that your BPS gave you absolutely no advantage over your competitors, it will not increase your customer base and it will not increase profits. Especially if your backgrounds are "old-fashioned, "old-school", ugly and corny looking "fake" backgrounds. This is common among cookie-cutter portrait studios. Those kinds of backgrounds reminds me, as well as others, of the little traveling photographer who will set up a kiosk in a mall, take some snapshots and you pay your money and HOPE you will eventually receive some snapshots in the mail.

You see there are several factors which go into whether or not ANY particular portrait studio business model can profit from a BPS.  For example, if the photographs produced by your lab suffer color imbalance, contrast issues, unprofessional retouching, etc., simply having a BPS is not going to solve those issues.  So, when a cookie-cutter studio considers purchasing a BPS, what is the BPS expected to do?  Just make it faster and easier to change background? That's it?  But then how does this fit into the cookie-cutter studio which needs to move people in and out quickly?  Are background choices going to overwhelm customers?  How long will it take for people to decide which pictures they want because of the background choices?  BUT THEN, some cookie-cutter studios brag they don't use a lot of props or background and prefer to concentrate on the best expressions!  There must be a lot of truth to that - at least I would certainly think people care more about expressions and good posing than they do about background options!  So now we've come full circle.  Why bring in a BPS for a cookie-cutter studio?

Not forcing your photographers to have to shoot through a background projection system will give them more creative freedom. Giving their photographers the ability to move around and shoot like "fashion photographers" is another one of the factors in the success formula of many successful studios.  Photographers not having to shoot through a background projection system means the best composition may be framed and shot more quickly as well.

Those who sell portrait background projection systems like to point out that the difference between the background projection system and green screen is that the portrait studio has to replace the green screen with the background to be used while the customer waits.  NOT SO!  While a portrait photographer shoots, the images shot are transmitted to the digital lab tech.  Just a few minutes after the digital portrait studio session is completed, the customer may walk out of our studio with all their processed images on one of our customized studio pen drives, DVD and/or view their images online and enjoy full resolution downloading as well.  But we like to have their digital portraits ready before they leave the studio so they may take advantage of our same day enlargement services.

- John
 Wedding Photographics


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I have over 30 years of experience. 12 years portrait studio experience. I can comprehensively answer questions relating directly to the art, science and business of photography and the portrait studio business. Photoshop and other photo editing software.


Over 30 years photography and about 4 years working as a portrait photographer for a studio in Chattanooga and eight years as a portrait studio owner.

I have attended numerous workshop, seminars and photography conventions over the years. I continually self-study from my library of over 100 photography, video, digital photography, photoshop and other books.

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