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 your reception room you have a line of sample prints, showing, at different prices, the range of styles and sizes you produce.
When a patron or prospective patron drops in to see what you are making, and you display this sample line to them, start at the top and come down. In other words, show them some of your best work first. They may not want to pay for that class of work, and if such is the case, they will probably hesitate before expressing themselves. Don't let them hesitate. As soon as you notice signs of hesitation, show them the next best style and watch for further symptoms, and proceed in this manner, downward through the line, until you notice that interest predominates their demeanor. When a customer appears to be interested, you have undoubtedly shown a sample that meets with his approval and which he can secure at about the price he is prepared to pay.
As you talk with each customer and are descending the scale of price, comparing and discussing the different styles, don't speak disparagingly of the style that brings the lesser price. If the customer can't see the difference or cannot pay the difference in price for the better style, he must not be discouraged in his opinion of the style that can be purchased at the more modest sum.
Never form your own opinion as to the price a customer will pay for pictures, as you may underestimate and not only lose the sale of the higher price style, but at the same time the customer may resent being shown the cheaper kind. If price is a factor in the transaction, it is surely easier and safer to start at the top and come down - easier to sell a moderate price picture after talking high prices, than to sell a moderate price picture after talking low prices.
One more point that is vital. Have confidence in the merit of your photographs. Keep your sample line up to the highest standard of quality you can produce. Apologies for the condition or quality of any sample will destroy confidence in the patron, and every sample you show should be right, so that you can stand back of it.
By Cornwell - Photographer Dayton, Ohio
FALSE FIXING BATH ECONOMY
A worn out fixing bath never was any good to a careful worker except for the silver waste he could get out of it, and he may not even find it worth while for this purpose if he buys potassium sulphide (liver of sulphur) to throw down the silver. Sodium sulphide is not so expensive and at the present price silver recovery is worth while to the man who finishes large quantities of prints.
Such an economy as the recovery of silver is much more reasonable and profitable than holding on to a fixing bath that has been used for more than one gross of 8 x 10 prints per gallon of bath.
Remove the handicap to better results -
Do you work with your camera at least 8 or 10 feet from your subject? If not, are you getting distortion? You certainly are if you work much closer than this, whether you know it or not.
It's worth while to prove to yourself whether or not your results are the best, and it is a very simple thing to do. If you have to work close to your subject to get a good sized three-quarter or head and shoulder portrait, make a negative close up in the usual way. Then without changing the position of your sitter, draw your camera back to a distance of 8 or 10 feet and make another negative.
Of course your second negative gives you a much smaller image than the first, but that is to be expected. Make an enlargement from the second negative, being careful to get the image the exact size of that in your first negative. A comparison of the enlargement and the contact print from the first negative will show you just how much distortion you get by working too close to your subject. The enlargement will be the most pleasing picture.
A wrong impression often prevails as to the cause of this distortion. Some photographers seem to think that it is the fault of the lens - that it is a lens im perfection, but such is not the case. All lenses, regardless of their size or focal length, will give the same perspective from the same point of view.
The confusion arises from the fact that a short focus lens is necessary for making full length figures in the average small studio, say, 18 feet in length. If the same lens is used for making head and shoulder portraits, however, it is necessary to work so close to the subject that the results show bad perspective, or distortion, and the lens gets the blame.
It isn't the short focus lens that is at fault. A long focus lens at the same distance from your subject will give the same distortion. It is entirely the point of view. Obviously the remedy is to continue using as short a focus lens as is necessary for full figure work and use as long a focus lens as the length of your studio will permit you to use for head and shoulder work.
For example, in your 18-foot studio you must allow for space behind the sitter and for space occupied by the camera, which will be about 5 feet. This leaves 13 feet to work in. The longest focus lens which will permit you to make a full figure portrait of the correct size on a 5 x 7 plate is approximately 10 1/2 inches. You are working 13 feet from your subject and the perspective is very good.