The following is a part of the paper read before the Inter-Mountain Convention of Photographers, by Mr. M. F. Jukes, and published by The "British Journal of Photography,"

The subject is exceptionally well treated and we regret that our space will not permit of publishing the article in full.

I have selected this subject, "The Cost of Producing Photographs," for the reason that little or no attention is paid to it by the average photographer, and also because of the important part it plays in the fixing of prices. I would be willing to wager that not more than one out of twenty-live photographers can say that he knows to a certainty that his pictures of a given size cost him a certain definite price, or anywhere near it. He can guess at it. So can anybody. What is the result? Where there is one man doing good work and getting what some of us consider a high price, there are a dozen little fellows fighting each other on the price basis, each probably explaining to his customers that the big man is a robber; a nice state of affairs and one quite conducive to the betterment and uplifting of the business in general. You have all seen show cases full of cabinet photographs, priced at a dollar a dozen, or thereabouts. A photographer in one of our Western cities had, in 1906, on display in his show case, genuine platinum prints, 3x4 inches in size, mounted on a neat, flexible card, at the ridiculous price of seventy-five cents a dozen.

We used to figure out the price of our competition photographs on the following basis: The price of a couple of plates. a dozen sheets of paper, and a dozen card mounts, adding enough to cover retouching. This would approximate between fifty and seventy-five cents, according to the class of material used, and then we would fondly imagine that everything over and above that figure was velvet. After a more or less busy season at what we thought was a good enough price, we began to wonder what the trouble was, and felt like throwing up the picture business and going into something else. There was no money in the business, anyway.

From An Artura Iris Print By L. F. Griffith Salt Lake City, Utah.

From An Artura Iris Print By L. F. Griffith Salt Lake City, Utah.

To-day you will find, in any successful and well-organized business, a well-developed and sometimes intricate system of getting at the cost of the article produced or marketed. This becomes absolutely necessary when anything is sold on a narrow margin, and even if not sold under these conditions, it is a valuable asset in effecting economies and increasing profits. It is a safeguard in case price-cutting becomes necessary, as it sometimes, but rarely, does. Occasionally we have to fight fire with fire, but it is a good thing to know where to stop.

In figuring cost the photographer has. in the main, two items to deal with: actual cost of material consumed, and his overhead or running expense. This latter goes on whether business is done or not, and it may surprise you to learn that, in the average studio, it is almost invariably higher than the first item, the cost of material. It includes the following: Rent, heat, light, water, insurance, taxes, postage, repairs, advertising, waste, depreciation, samples, re-sittings, etc. Then there are the bad debts, wages paid help; and did you ever figure your own time as being worth anything at all? Taking the prices obtained by the majority of photographers, we are forced to believe that many of you do not.

Looking at the following figures, we will get still closer to the subject. These comprise the cost of the material consumed in the production of one dozen ordinary cabinet photographs. Just take your pencil and put down these figures, for the sake of comparisons that will follow, and to give you something to go by in case you wish to investigate your own costs. Four plates, thirty cents; paper for twelve prints and proofs, twenty-rive cents; envelopes and tissue enclosures, seven cents: retouching one negative, thirty-five cents; chemicals, ten cents; and mounts, thirty cents. Total, one dollar and, say, forty cents. These items may be cut down slightly, or added to, as the case may be. You will find that they are somewhere near the average. In any case, these slight changes will affect the total but very little, as Ave shall see later on.

We now come to overhead expense. This is for a studio where the business is such as to warrant the employment of one assistant, and, for one year, will be approximately the following: Rent, at twenty-five dollars a month, three hundred dollars; fuel, at eight dollars a month, call it fifty dollars for seven months: electric light, at a minimum of a dollar and a half a month, twenty dollars: water, at two dollars, make it twenty-five dollars: insurance, which every photographer should carry, fifteen dollars: taxes, ten dollars: postage and samples will probably amount to thirty dollars; depreciation, waste, and advertising will come to not less than two hundred dollars, and a fairly good assistant, in these days, will cost at least fifteen dollars a week. We will call it seven hundred and fifty dollars for the year, which is none too high. Now. if you value yourself as being worth anything at all to your business, you should charge up your own services, even if it is only at a nominal figure. We will put it, in this case, at seventy-five dollars a month, or nine hundred dollars for the year. This brings the total overhead, or running, expense to twenty-three hundred dollars per year. I see that I have overlooked interest on investment, but we will let that go. This is the only business-like way of getting at one's cost; and if you will do a little more pencil work, you will find that, with a material cost of a dollar and thirty cents a dozen, and an overhead expense of twenty-three hundred a year, in order to make ends meet you will have to do a business of ten hundred and fifty sittings at three dollars and a half, or three thousand six hundred and seventy-five dollars. In other words, with this volume of business your pictures have cost you three dollars and a half a dozen. To be exact, the above business will show a profit of ten dollars for the year, or less than a dollar a month.