No it is not heads I win, tails you lose, but it is something very close to it. I have been looking at the head sizes on a few of the 30 x 24's and 40 x 30's that have been going through the lab and they are way too big.  Some of them are actually larger than life and this, if you want to call yourself a professional photographer, is not on.

Unless you are doing it for advertising or something spectacular like that for normal portraiture, no head in any photograph should be larger than 7/8's life size.

If you have not enough on the negative, you are going to have to sell them a smaller photograph.  For this reason it is critical that you have a conversation with your customer before the sitting and compose the negative, so that you can include more of the body in if you want to sell one of these bigger prints.  Please be very much aware of this whenever you are doing your selling.

JOHN PFORR say's (John Owned C/T Aust)
A comment that I heard recently from an interior decorator consultant, which appears to be a rule within that profession is "On the wall small items serve as distraction, large items attract attention."

This to me makes tremendous amount of sense and unless you group a lot of small items together to make one large item, small items do appear to have that affect.

The way in which you can know all about your customer, is to have either your job envelope or your family record card in front of you at all times.

You should begin them at the telephone booking or the original contact.  Start making up your family record card or negative bag at that time.  Record on it the key points of any discussion that you have with them.    Who they want the photographs of, for what purpose, what age, what they intend to use with it and then, when they come into the camera room, at least you would be ahead of the play, because at least you would have recorded your discussion with them and know that you have to take a photograph for an oval or for a 30 x 110.

There is no use your customer wanting 30 x 40's if you are not aware of it at the time and you only do head and shoulder photographs, the 30 x 40 of that would look ghastly.  So you read this record card before you do the appointment.  You should record on the card any other bits of information that you gather from your customer when you are talking with them.

Remember you should be pumping them all the time to find out what they want, you are selling all the time to plant ideas in their mind and you are doing all the things that you have heard about so many times.

There is no use the photographer knowing that the customer has decided that they want a 30 x 40 and the salesperson not knowing this, and the salesperson settling for a 30 x 24.  It's money down the drain.  So keep your record cards up-to-date with you every contact you have with the customer and record on them, what is happening, what you are doing and why you are doing it.

Then you will be able to greet your customer after a period of time, by their name, enquire after young Johnny who had his leg broken 5 years ago and your customers will be delighted and love you.

Razor sharp I would hope, but sometimes your prints may not show it. 

If you are wanting to sell a 30 x 40 from your negative and the print does not look quite as sharp as you would like, you should check you negatives on a regular basis with a 10 times magnifier, or an 8 times magnifier in the form of an Agfa Lupe.  The latter I believe are now off the market, but Lacklands do have a Kaiser Lupe which look like its brother.

Check your negative with this magnifier, if it is sharp, it is sharp and you will get a sharp print, but you will soon see whether you have camera movement or bad focus with this magnifier.  Don't be done out of extra money because you thought the negative was not sharp because the print did not look as sharp as you thought it should do.


- or Thoughts in Passing... In reply to my Question
about Photographers Fees

D.H.Moore, Photo-Documentalist writes ( DH, as he was known, died in the late '80)     
If a man is worth his daily salt, his work will command the proper fee, in time.  The me-too-ism that abounds here, (in U.S.A.) along with the degradation of the true face of professional Photography due to our defaulting media and societies, precludes all but a handful of photographers from commanding, by the merits of their produce, respectable sums.   All photographers complain about the meanness of their fees, but I have yet to hear any photographer suggest that he is responsible.

In the final analysis, he is.  There is no magical elevation of worth or income by joining such self-deluding societies as the PPA, nor in subscribing to any current U.S. photo-media, or having an exhibition in a bank or a public library or a hole-in-the-wall "gallery" - which is also the fashion among the me-too types.

Unless and until the photographer recognizes - and accepts - the simple fact that he produces a product for a price, and that the price is determined precisely by the merits of that produce in terms of the client, and not his precious ego or his concern with "creativity" or self-expressions or mechanical, optical, and electronic hardware, the whining about poor fees will continue.  Yes, of course they are all piss-poor businessmen - if they were businessmen, they wouldn't be photographers.  And it is all because of this atrocious, mindless, sophomoric belief that Photography is ART... in a pig's eye.  Photography, i.e., professional Photography, is a product produced for a price, to serve a need of which the photographer need have no interest in or desire to exhibit as an example.  

In Volume II (of his Books) I have an interview with the executive art director of Reynolds Metals, the second largest buyer of commercial Photography in the U.S.  His comments are, I feel, quite pertinent to this subject, and I was always surprised that our failed journalism majors had not thought to interview such people for the benefit of their readers.

How buyers think and feel, despite the fact that all too often they actually know little of Photography, per se, is an untracked jungle for most photographers.  This naturally includes the mores, attitudes, value structure of one's potential local clients - i.e., portraiture, weddings, school pix, etc., u.s.w.

Were I a professional photographer, I would spend at least a couple of years investigating my market thoroughly before even setting-up shop.  Then I would mount an advert campaign - not stage an exhibition! - designed precisely for my market, in terms of the above consideration.  There was a chap in Bozeman, Montana, who heard me mention this idea during a lecture at Montana State University a few years ago.  He took it to heart, looked around Bozeman, set-up shop, advertised, and after five years retired to - of all places - New Zealand!  His name was Jacobowski, and I believe I may have mentioned him before.

The better mouse-trap syndrome is no longer applicable, as you know.  Neither is the old-fashioned notion that a photographic studio is something special in a given community.  Photography has become merely another social event in the mind of every man, as I have written - a mere social skill like driving a motor-car or learning how to dance.  Blame the PPA and our media for that.  But until photographers come out from behind their utterly fallacious notions about Photography-Art and accept the fact that they are essentially sellers of a product for which they alone must create a sustaining demand, the game will continue to waddle along as it is now.  The exceptional practitioner, of course, will always get by, sans PPA, sans media, sans exhibitions, sans arty nonsense.  

Also as I have written, in order to make some men see the light, you must first punch out their eyes.  My earlier writings did just that for many, I'm pleased to say, and I might mention that I have never suggested that true Photography cannot have artistic merit, for both the photographer and the client.  And when a photographer has done his homework and thinks first of how he can satisfy a client's needs, rather than his ego or vanity, then he will become a successful photographer.

(D.H. appears to be anti P.P.A. however to clear the air on this point, I will take another paragraph from his letter to me, where he was talking about colour-labs in the states)           he writes

No, I am not hard on colour-labs, any more than I am anti-PPA or anti-photo-media, contrary to what some think. I simply want all of them to be as meaningful as they could be, and once were.