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.
What is the value of your stock of negatives? Not the value an insurance company would place on them, but their actual value as an asset of your business?
One photographer answered this question for himself by charging the expense of storing his old negatives, against the duplicate orders from negatives over six months old, and found these old negatives were an expense instead of an asset.
He did the most reasonable thing he could do, under the circumstances, which was to formulate a scheme by which he could make these old tenants pay their room-rent or be turned out.
There is a big profit in duplicate orders, because it is a mere matter of making prints and delivering them. For this reason you should be willing to spend a little money to increase your duplicate order business.
The following plan seems a very feasible one to us, and as it may also be of value to you, we pass it along for what it is worth. Here is the idea: Go through your stock of old negatives, systematically culling out those you know to be of no value, and selling them for old glass. Make proofs from all negatives of people you are able to reach through the mail, or in the case of very old people, where you can reach their children. Mail these proofs to the interested parties with a letter of explanation about as follows:
It is our custom to hold all negatives from which portraits have been made, for a certain length of time, when those of no value are destroyed. This for the reason that the negative is the property of the photographer and that the storing of large numbers of these negatives with no assurance that they will ever be used again, is expensive.
We take this opportunity of calling your attention to the enclosed proofs from negatives which may be of interest to you. If you might care to order from these negatives now or at some future time, will you kindly advise us and we will be glad to hold same for you.
Trusting that we may have an early reply with the return of all the proofs, notation being made on any from which you may wish prints made or which you may wish us to hold, we are,
Yours very truly,
It will be found necessary to state that the negative is your property, otherwise some of those who receive your letter will think they should be given the negatives or that they will be doing you a favor by taking them off your hands.
If any such requests are made, you would, of course, agree to hold the negatives for any future orders, as it is very bad policy to allow negatives to go out of your hands.
We feel sure this idea is a practical one and that it will be the means of securing a great many duplicate orders.
There are a number of people who may want pictures from old negatives but have no idea they are still in existence. Try it out and see how much it does towards increasing duplicate orders. It will give you a chance to reduce your stock of old negatives, if no more, and it will be a very profitable way to put in spare time, if it works the way we think it will.
FROM AN ARTURA IRIS PRINT
By Geo. M. Edmondson Cleveland, Ohio