This section is from the "Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1913" book, by Aristo Motto. Also see Amazon: Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1913.
You know by experience that it isn't possible for a photographer to make a dozen or half a dozen perfect negatives of every sitting. Even the best operators miss it occasionally and quite often they make negatives that are not up to their standard.
You also know that when you show your customer a dozen proofs, some of which are made from negatives that are not what you would like to have them, the customer will almost invariably want prints finished from some of the poor negatives.
You may tell him this or that negative will make better work, but it is not the quality of your negatives that will influence him in giving his order. It is the expression or pose or likeness that he prefers, and he expects you to make good work from any selection he may make.
If the negative is not good and you turn out poor prints, every one is a bad advertisement for you, even if the customer is satisfied.
Once in a while, however, you are impressed with the very apparent success of a photographer and the excellent average quality of his work. If you have a chance to look over his negatives you will also be impressed with the excellent average negative quality he seems to get and you will wonder why you can't find a real poor one among them.
Our demonstrators meet such photographers occasionally, and as they become intimately acquainted with their methods of working, they are in a position to give good advice on how such men maintain their standards of negative quality.
First of all, the operator in such a studio does not spare plates in making negatives, regardless of whether the pictures are to be high or only moderately priced. And in the dark room you will find that an inferior negative never even reaches the fixing bath. This prevents a proof going out that might mean an order for work below the average.
By making enough exposures to allow the poor ones to be culled out in the dark room, the negative quality is kept even and it is a hard matter for the customer to select a negative that will not make a good print. In fact it makes it so hard for the customer to choose that the order is usually given for prints from several negatives, and the extra amount charged for retouching the extra negatives will much more than pay for all the extra plates that are used. So what at first seems extravagance turns out to be economy.
One of our demonstrators overheard a conversation in one of these studios, which showed the advantage of such a policy. A lady was making an appointment to have her children's pictures made and asked the receptionist not to let them make over four negatives. She said that the year before, when she had brought the children in for pictures, she had received twelve beautiful proofs and the grandparents had insisted on six or eight being finished. So what she had intended should be $25.00 worth of pictures had been increased to a $40.00 order.
The lady was flattered by the attention she had received and was coming right back for more of the same attention. Of course, the receptionist told her Mr. Blank was interested in the youngsters and found it a pleasure to try for the different expressions. He really could not do them justice with only four negatives. The lady was pleased. She wanted another dozen proofs to choose from and wouldn't have been satisfied without them.
In cases where there are no extra orders, the good printing quality of the negative makes up for the few plates discarded. Far too many printers waste sheet after sheet of developing paper, trying to get good prints, and many times full orders have to be reprinted simply because someone didn't have the nerve to throw away a poor negative before the proofs were made. Throw them away before they come out of the dark room before they go into the fixing box, and make enough exposures to allow for the culling process. Many photographers have not only raised the standard of their work by the above plan, but they have also cut down their expenses and increased their profits.