This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Customers Who Select Their Styles Before Sitting. This class of customers should be handled in the same way as those who sit first and order afterwards. Aim always to hold their confidence, and while it is advisable to strive to sell as high grade work as possible, do not try to increase the quantity of their order at this time, but wait until they return their proofs. It is always a good policy to make extra negatives of different sizes for customers, even for those who select a certain size, for if you make something to their liking they can be induced to order.
Number Of Plates To Use. This is a very difficult question to answer, but the following suggestion may assist those who have not met with success otherwise. You should regulate the number of plates according to the customer and be guided by the grade of work ordered. Years of experience has taught us that a liberal number of plates under all circumstances is profitable, for the increased orders from numerous plates will more than pay your entire plate bill. We would suggest the following: Never expose less than two plates for your lowest grade cabinet work, say from $3.00 to $4.00 per dozen. For all work from $6.00 to $8.00 per dozen expose not less than four to eight plates, and for customers who are able to pay this price, it is a good policy to make an 8 x 10 negative in addition.
707. There is another class of customers whom it does not pay to make extra size negatives of. This is known as the working class. They are limited in means and it is not because they do not appreciate your efforts that they will not order from special size plates, but because they cannot afford to order them. This class of trade, however, must have the same consideration as the most elite and the same attention should be given them, but they do not expect anything out of the ordinary and it is only a waste of plates to make anything for them which you know in advance they would not pay for.
708. For work from $10.00 per dozen upward, you should make no less than 8 negatives, and as many larger sizes as you judge you may be able to sell prints from. A very important consideration when making numerous exposures is to strive to make each negative entirely different from the others, for it is on account of the different positions that you induce your customers to increase their order.
Collecting A Deposit. For the majority of photographers this is one of the most difficult parts of the business. The photographer, to be successful, should make it a rule to always collect a deposit on all orders except in extreme cases of select trade, where it might give offense. If you establish a rule of collecting a deposit on all orders at the time of sitting, you will experience less difficulty in obtaining good orders and you will always meet with less loss. The manner of asking for a deposit has much to do with the successful obtaining of it. It would not do, for instance, to say, to the customer, "Will you please pay a deposit?" Such a method might indicate to them that you mistrusted their honesty. On the contrary, if you have an established rule (which you must have to be successful) of obtaining a deposit from all, then, when registering the customer, noting the name and address and calling them by name, say "Do you wish to pay the full amount today or only a part?" They may reply, "Is it customary to pay in advance?" You may state, "Yes, it is our custom," and you could further say that "Some customers pay the full amount, others only a part, and since you do not know how many pictures you may require, I will just credit you with $5.00 or $3.00," as the case may be. Your judgment must be based upon the amount of the order, and conclude with stating that this will be perfectly satisfactory. In other words, leaving them to understand that this is a strict rule and that it is not the amount that is so essential as it is the matter of carrying out the established rule. Do not deviate from this position, for your customer will respect you more for it, as you are conducting your business on business principles, and even if occasionally you meet with a grumble you may off-set it with a smile and some jolly remark and take extra pains that the customer's proofs look well, and, above all, do not disappoint them in time of finishing.