5 tips on the business of photography from a century ago

When it comes to business, some things never change. Even in 1914, when PPA’s member magazine was known as Abel’s Photographic Weekly, articles provided tips that still apply today.

PUT BUSINESS FIRST. On being a professional: “In the first place, he was a good photographer, not just an amateur located under a skylight; secondly, he was something of an artist; and thirdly, and most important, he was in every sense a business man.”

WORK HARD. On event photography: “First of all, let me say that a man who wants to succeed at this kind of work must be a hustler, and while it may interfere with his usual office hours, still I am sure he will find it so profitable that he will gladly give up his evenings occasionally for the extra money.”

MONETIZE A NICHE. On recognizing new opportunities: “Many of us have seen reproductions of [banquet] pictures made at some prominent function, by one of the more progressive members of the profession, and have looked at them with awe, or have heard wonderful tales of how a picture was taken at some banquet and before the crowd dispersed, or possibly before the next course was served the proof was back and being canvassed. But to most of us it was too wonderful to be real!”

CLOSE THE SALE. On making sales: “Then the guests are curious to see what the result was and will gladly look at the proof, and as they do not want to appear cheap among their friends, you are pretty sure of getting generous orders. Get your money with the orders and have receipts printed carrying your name and address, which will assure them that you mean business.”

KNOW YOUR PRICING. On quoting prices: “Some may be interested in knowing what is usually charged for these banquet pictures, and while it is not my purpose to try and set a price on another person’s work, I think I am safe in saying that one dollar is a fair price and is even money, and is what is commonly asked, regardless of the size.”  

Source: Abel’s Photographic Weekly, Jan. 31 and Feb. 14, 1914 issues.

Tags: pricing  sales