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.
Many and various are the ways by which financial success is attained in business, and nearly every man has his own pet ideas on the subject, and believes that they alone, if properly carried out, will land him in the desired haven of independence, if not affluence. Unfortunately among photographers an idea cherished by many is that it pays to work on the barest margin of profit, or even at no profit at all, in the hope of securing remunerative orders from the same customers at a later date. This is, of course, the "sprat to catch the mackerel" idea, and commands the respect due to its age. Past experience proves that in certain circumstances it is perfectly sound, but it must not be done too often. The mistake which the photographer makes is that of fishing with a perfectly good sprat, which has cost him money, for a non-existent mackerel. In the words of a man who has a fairly large turnover in "invitation" work, it is "selling for a shilling what has cost thirteenpence," a practice which can have only one ending. This our friend realized in time, and mended his ways, taking as his new motto, "Let every tub stand on its own bottom." Another man, not a photographer, progressed from a capital of nil to a fortune of over a hundred thousand pounds by treating the matter in a very practical way. His determination at the outset was to make every order yield a fair profit, and his prices were fixed accordingly. There were, however, certain lines which would add greatly to the prestige of his house if issued, but involved a risk of almost a certain loss of greater or less extent. In such cases he went into the matter with his eyes open, estimating the probable deficiency and debiting the advertising account with this amount, always providing that he considered the advantage to be gained worth the money. The amount so debited was credited as a subsidy towards the cost of production of the special article, and if the account was balanced, or more than balanced, when the goods were sold out the transaction was counted as successful. On the other hand the advertising account acted as an effective check, and showed at a glance how often a loss has been knowingly incurred in the expectation of benefit in other directions. A way in which the photographer often makes a false step is in producing work at a low figure for a customer who he hopes may introduce others. These it is hoped will pay full prices. They may do so, but as a rule the original sitter boasts of his bargain, and his friends have to be served on the same terms or they are offended. It is a mistake, and usually a sign of decadence in a business, when reduced prices are quoted "on the quiet" to increase business. If the work will not command the old prices, reduce them to all comers, and seek to make up the difference by economical working, but do not follow the example of a photographer who confessed that he had withdrawn his price list and "got what he could" for his portraits, the result being that in nearly every case "what he got" was on the lowest scale.
From An Artura Iris Print By Cornish & Baker Kansas City, Mo.
In fixing prices there is much more to be considered than plates, paper, and mounts, and there is nothing so foolish as to imagine that the standing charges of a business, which it is sometimes said have "got to be paid anyway," should be borne by a few good orders, while other work is being turned out at what would be an actual loss if a proper proportion of these charges were reckoned in the cost. Very often there is more time, meaning money, spent upon a five-shilling order than upon a guinea one by receptionist, operator, and printer, and this is hardly recognized, or, if it is noted, it is only to grumble without making any effort to prevent its frequent recurrence. "Will it pay?" is a question that every one should ask himself when quoting for a job, and next, and of equal importance, "How much will it pay?" Then when the accountants go to make up the yearly balance the photographer will be able to see whether the percentage of profits is what he has been reckoning on. If it is not, there is a leakage somewhere, and it is "up to him" to find out where it occurs. - British Journal of Photograpliy.