This section is from the "Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1911" book, by Aristo Motto. Also see Amazon: Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1911.
To ask more for your work you must give more in quality. This is a fact which cannot be disputed, but there are many things which go to make up the quality which commands the better price. The public to day is better informed regarding pictures than it was ten years ago, and the photographer who would keep abreast of the times must be up and doing. He must get out of the rut and go ahead faster than his customer or the customer will not have confidence in his ability to produce pictures that are worth the price he may choose to ask for them.
Just here the question arises, "What is the value of a dozen pictures of a given size?" but the question is too broad for a direct answer. It has been said that a dozen pictures are worth just what a man asks for them, and this certainly should be true. The photographer who puts his best conscientious effort into the production of a dozen portraits should receive a price sufficient to make the transaction a profitable one, and to do this the quality of the pictures must be such that the customer will willingly pay the price asked. A few photographers have been able to so fill their work with their individuality that they are able to ask prices that, to the average person, might seem exorbitant, but in every instance where these men have been successful, there has been first of all, the groundwork of quality back of it. As with a portrait painter, once the photographer adds individuality to this quality, he may place almost any value on his work and there are those who will be willing to pay the price. However, this article will not deal with these few but rather the many who wish to better their work and so secure better prices.
First of all it is taken for granted that the studio is properly equipped for the making of good pictures and that the photographer has a fair amount of ability. The studio must be neat and attractive, for the first impression the customer receives should be a good one. The receptionist must be courteous and tactful and a good judge of human nature. The impression created here means much; a customer may be easily antagonized and a good order lost, or may be induced to pay your best price and made a permanent customer if handled with tact.
Samples of the best work of the studio should be displayed and handled in a way that would indicate their value to the customer. Step into any store where expensive luxuries are for sale and you will not find the expensive goods lying about on the show case or counter where they may be handled and soiled. Keep samples of your best work in the same condition, and handle with the same care that the merchant uses in displaying and selling his best wares. It helps to give the impression of the value of your work.
It is under the skylight that the picture is really made and where the greatest skill is necessary. The best plate will only record the image you create for it and the best paper will only reproduce what you have in the negative.
If you are in a rut in your negative making, get out of it by all means. See what the other man is doing, and change your methods, if necessary, to get new effects. Experiment until you have overcome the difficulties encountered and never be satisfied so long as you can do better. If you do not have the opportunity to see what the other photographers are doing, have your dealer send you a copy of "With Other Photographers," from which you can get ideas that will be of inestimable value to you in bettering your work under the skylight.
When you are satisfied that the negatives you are making are good, look carefully to the printing from these negatives, for while the best printer cannot make perfect prints from a poor negative, poor prints are often made from good negatives.
Select a paper to use for your best work that has distinctive qualities which will appeal to your best customers. You cannot expect to sell five dollar pictures for ten dollars by merely using a larger mount. You insult the intelligence of your customer when you use such tactics. Etching Black or Etching Sepia Platinum or Artura Iris Grade D or E have qualities that are distinctive. There are no better papers made and you can feel that you are giving to the customer the best to be had when you deliver an order on one of these papers. Then they are different - you get away from the effects obtained in your cheaper work. Make the prints larger and of a different shape - use some of the Paragon Border Negatives to enhance the attractiveness of the better work and add to the variety of styles and effects. All of these little things add to the value of the finished picture and you must have for your motto, "Not how cheap but how good" if you would have the customer pay more for your work. You must give more in value if you wish to receive more in profit. It is the old rule of give and take and it works both ways.
Last of all, but not least by any means, comes the matter of folders, mounts, enclosures, etc. By all means do not sacrifice quality here. Use the very best, even to the cord you use to tie the package. Get a catalogue of The Canadian Card Co. and order samples of mountings to suit the particular style of picture you are making. When you have found a suitable mount, or enclosure, make it a part of the work, not merely a thing that adds expense to the picture. It is quality all the way through that gives the beautiful and harmonious finished product. You have no doubt paid one-third more for a pound of candy many a time because it was packed in a handsome box, neatly wrapped, instead of being delivered to you in a paper bag. And the candy tasted better too, didn't it? Just keep in mind the fact that quality must go all the way through the transaction and do not sacrifice the effect you have worked so hard to produce for the sake of fifty cents or a dollar on the mounts or a few cents in making an attractive package. You can raise your standard very easily, but you must give more in quality if you would receive more for your work.
Seed Plate-Artura Paper. Eastman Demonstration St. Paul Convention.