This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918.
In a recent copy of Printers' Ink a writer gives some very good suggestions for the commercial photographer on photographing merchandise for catalogue illustrations. The writer's experience will no doubt apply to many things which the commercial photographer is called upon to photograph, and as the psychology of selling is best understood by the salesman, the following should be of special interest to those photographers who make pictures that must sell the goods they illustrate:
"An executive in charge of a new department of an old mail-order house, a department of laces and embroideries, was talking with the editor of a business journal of the lace industry and asked, 'By the way, what do you find the best background for photographing lace?'
"Well, we tried all colors, and after years of experimenting we've settled on a chocolate brown," said the editor.
The mail-order man smiled to himself. He had discovered and settled on the same color inside of two days at a total cost of less than three dollars! It was all in the trained way he went at the job. He took strips of cardboard of all colors, including black, measuring 2x6 inches, laid them out side by side, like the keys of a piano and glued them down. He then took two pieces of lace, one a coarse Cluny and the other a fine Val lace, and stretched them across the colored strips and pinned them down. He then had this lace photographed, with the result that with one shot of the camera he got a comparison of the same pieces and patterns of lace against all the possible backgrounds. The proof of the plate was shown to many girls and women with the request that they indicate at what point the pieces of lace showed up the clearest and gave them the best idea of what it looked like. Almost without exception they selected the spot, which, when looked up, was found to be over the chocolate - brown background. The natural supposition, among the uninitiated, would be that white lace should be shown against a black background, but this experiment showed that the lace seemed to sink into the black background, whereas it stood right out on top of the chocolate background, so that it looked as though it could almost be picked up.