Every camera-user is familiar with the fact that photography, once the costliest of hobbies, can now be made to pay its own expenses. ....;. A few enterprising lady amateurs have gone further than this in discovering that their one-time holiday amusement can be made to yield a handsome profit as well. Probably the discovery was due, in the first instance, to parents, who are realising that the flawless studio portraits of their boys and girls, although perfect in finish, soon cease to give them lasting pleasure.
The sight of his active, merry little Dick and Daisy frozen into strained, unchildlike attitudes - the result, partly, of unfamiliar surroundings and mysterious studio "pro-perties," partly of their hated Sunday frocks - gazing down on him from their places on the mantelshelf with a meaningless smirk, or a look of pathetic boredom, will cause father to sweep the offending pieces of pasteboard into a drawer, and mother to consider the advisability of buying a camera and learning to "snap" the little ones herself.
Most mothers, how-ever, have few spare half-hours available for learning the necessary technique. Thus has arisen the need for the outdoor lady photographer.
A reflex camera (i.e., a camera containing a mirror attachment so arranged that the picture, right-way-up, and full size, is visible until the moment of exposing the plate) is an incalculable boon in the photographing of children. It enables the photographer to "stalk" the models at their play, following them about and watching their movements, until the picture composes itself in exactly the right way. Focussing, moreover, can be carried on without removing the eyes from the hooded mirror, till the moment occurs for pressing the button and releasing the shutter.
"Mother and child in a town garden"
Excellent work, nevertheless, can be done with a camera of the ordinary "hand-or-stand" type. In either case a tripod should be in readiness in order to steady the camera should a long exposure be necessary.
Fast plates should be always used. On dull days theyare a necessity, and in bright sunshine their use enables the photographer to place an "orthochromatic filter" in front of the lens, and still give her pictures an instantaneous exposure.
For softening the flesh tones, suppressing freckles and other blemishes, and giving a true rendering of the colour of the eyes and hair (and also of flowers, etc., which may occur in the picture), the use of a light-filter is strongly recommended.
If the photographer herself is the possessor of a garden, and the models live near, she may find it advisable to invite them to her home, so that she can study them in a familiar setting, and also be able to select suitable backgrounds for her pictures before the children's arrival. By placing a few toys in readiness, the models will be led to pose, unconsciously, at the right spot.
It is essential that the background be as "plain" as possible, in order that the figures may stand out clearly.
A close-cut lawn - a background to be found in almost any garden - is very suitable. And for this it is important that the photographer should choose a high standpoint, in order to look down upon her models. A high bank or a garden seat will serve her
Try to have the picture lit from the side, or, better still, from behind the model, so that the camera is pointing almost directly towards the sun. The child, or children, will appear outlined in light, and the unimportant parts of the composition will be thrown into shadow. If the sun's rays are falling directly on the lens, it must, of course, be shaded either by a proper lens hood, or by an improvised shade, made by holding a hat or a folded newspaper in such a way that the sun is excluded from the lens, and that no part of the picture is cut off.
To those who feel able to start a connection on the lines suggested above, the following rough estimate of probable expenditure and profits may be of use:
Preliminary Expenses £ s. d. Reflex camera (to take plates 5 ins. by 4 ins.), including suitable lens, about 20 o o
Or: "Hand-or-stand " camera, same size, about 7 10 o
All that is necessary for the equipment of a dark-room may be bought for a sovereign. As profits increase, luxuries - in the shape of time and labour-saving apparatus - can be added. It is also advisable to invest in an enlarger. This will cost from £2 upwards.
" Pickinp dandelion clocks "
The annual expenses will depend entirely on the amount of work done. But, roughly, the beginner may calculate that every dozen punts - if they are not larger than 5 ins. l>v 4 ins. - will cost her from 3s. to 4s. to produce. That is allowing for the expenditure of one dozen plates on each sitter, and from these, prints may possibly be made from one negative only.
For the first year, not more than £25 net profit should be counted on, but once a con-ne2tion has been established, profits should increase to £30 and £40 a year, and, with enterprise, they should rise still higher.
It must be borne in mind that these profits can only be made by a photographer who has first mastered thoroughly the technical side of photography. In addition to this, she must possess tact, intelligence, and a certain amount of business enterprise.
"Mother and child" pictures are another branch of portraiture in which the lady photographer may specialise.
As her skill and knowledge of technique increases, the photographer can enter her work for some of the numerous competitions announced from time to time in the photographic papers, and in this way add an occasional five or ten-pound note to her regular earnings.
It will thus be seen that, although open-air portraiture may not yield a livelihood, it can be made the means of earning a substantial dress allowance, and of giving a very pleasurable spare-time occupation to those who decide to practise it.