This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1914" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1914.
It isn't a good idea for the average photographer in the small town to try to specialize on any one line of work or to cater to only one class of customers. It's too much like having your eggs all in one basket.
Few photographers specialize in any one line of portraiture, but they do often specialize in portrait photography, probably because they prefer to have the business come to them, as is the case in all portrait work, with the one exception - home portraiture.
But suppose the portrait business doesn't come to you, things are quiet, your helpers are idle, and other overhead expense is going on just the same as when you are busy - what then? Are you going to sit and wait for business conditions to change, or will you go after business of a different nature?
There is nothing to be gained at any time by cutting prices - and there is a great deal to be lost.
Forget all about that idea of making a reduction on one of your popular lines of work to stimulate business. It won't work. At least, it won't work to your advantage.
Take a new tack and go after commercial or outdoor work of a legitimate nature when business is quiet inside. You may meet with discouragements in begin-ing, but there is plenty of good business to be had if you get out and solicit it. And by establishing a reputation for good work you can develop this outside business into a side line that will carry you through any dull season in studio portraiture.
You cannot always determine just what turn this outdoor business will take and it doesn't matter so long as it is profitable. You may learn that Mrs. B. is to have a garden party. There is an opportunity for pictures which may give you a profitable half day's work and lead to other business. A home wedding is another opportunity which may mean an order for home portraits as well as interiors of the home and its decorations.
In commercial work, a picture of a building that is a landmark and which must give way to a new structure is usually an opening wedge towards pictures of the construction work on the new building. And this work may lead to work for another firm who have a contract for interior finish, - the lighting fixtures, tile floors, office fixtures, etc.
We might enumerate a dozen examples, each of which would suggest an opportunity to an ambitious man, but we want to add a more important suggestion.
Make your display case talk to those you can not see personally. Display pictures that will let the public know you do other work than portraiture - pictures that will attract attention to your portrait work, but will also suggest work of a different nature. And change your display as often as you can - every day if possible, and this is very simple. It isn't necessary to change the entire display. If you have made half a dozen negatives on one trip from the studio with your camera, and all the negatives are different, don't display the entire lot of prints at one time - show a new one in your show-case each day, with a neat card of explanation and the suggestion that you make a specialty of such work.
Be as particular with this work as you are with your portrait work and you will be able to get good prices and will find it is business that pays, and pays well.