NO SALE? TRY BARTER!
Co-Conductor, KGER Camera Club of the Air
Here is a new angle on cashing in with your camera. Try exchanging your photographs for merchandise and services instead of for money.
OF course we photographers won’t admit we’re a peculiar group, but we certainly have some odd monetary habits. Remember how easy it was to stretch the budget (and we mean s-t-r-e-t-c-h) the last time you wanted a supplementary something or a bottle of the latest super film soup, but how great an extravagance (tsk, tsk) that extra pair of hose seemed for your wife?
To cope with that stretching phenomenon lots of us have tried free-lance shooting, but rejection slips fall hard (and sometimes often), portrait work is rather dull, and contacting the man who wants real commercial work is difficult. There really is a much easier “out” for the photo budget. Did you ever seriously try SWAPPING your pics for things?
No? Well, listen to one who has!
One day I rolled into the airport with my Rolliecord to get some dramatic shots of airplanes. Soon tiring of ground shots I took one of those special around-theairport-for-a-buck rides where the pilot plays the game of getting back down before the landing wheels stop turning. Fortunately before he could bank the plane around for a landing I got a shot or two. Later I presented prints to the pilot (in the spirit of casting bread upon the waters) who then asked me to photograph him flying upside down.
This led to other shots and finally the offer by the pilot wherein he would teach me to fly in exchange for pictures for his large scrapbook. A half dozen 5 x 7’s a week at my list price in exchange for his lessons at his list price. Simple and ultimately satisfactory to both pilot and myself. Now I can fly and he can look at himself and his exploits—to our mutual satisfaction; a fair exchange.
This is mentioned as an example to show the simplicity of making swaps for things you want and there are lots of other opportunities, too, like
— credit on a new house for taking the contractor’s FHA photos.
— use of a moving van to get into that house in exchange for a portrait of the mover’s child.
— credit for dinners at a fine eating
house for a good mounted shot of the attractive building front.
— training in a craft for some Christmas cards.
— the services of an operatic soprano for our house party in exchange for publicity shots—oh, and lots of others, too.
Another thing, 8,000-foot power dives and a head cold don’t always mix, but if your doctor happens to live in a section of the city of which you have a good airshot, he will blast out your Eustachian tubes for a good print or two (one did for me).
Now here’s the point—the products of your camera that sometimes cannot be sold for cash can almost always be swapped for the things you want. There is a peculiar psychology about trading where legal tender is absent; you and I and the butcher are all alike in this respect. Perhaps you can’t make “money with car and camera” but you certainly can get the things that the money would buy via the medium of the swap system.
Use your own sales system and attach to it such of the following pointers I’ve gleaned and passed to you, as you see fit.
If you see something you want, look the situation over and try to anticipate the thing or things the swappee would probably like to have photographed. It might be a store front, a window display,
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his youngster or pet, or any one of a million objects. Have one or more in mind at least, and approach the person with your proposition. Remember that you propose a very fair exchange, so don’t be bashful about it.
You’ll be surprised at the ease of making any swap, enjoy the directness of the exchange, and get a wallop out of the interest that the person approached usually displays.
There are lots of cameras these days and plenty of people to use them, so when taking shots for swapping the best composition and print quality is none too good.
Show nothing but good prints, better lose (if necessary) on retakes than supply inferior material.
Don’t make prints for swapping under 5x7 inches unless for special reasons. People seem to enjoy big pictures so toss an 8 x 10 into a bargain once in a while, it seems to be a good investment for future trades.
Chax'ge a reasonable pxice, calculating your prints at market value and in the usual case remember your time is worth at least $1.00 per hour (to you, anyway).
Swaps ai'e usually made on the basis of x'etail value of pi'oducts traded. (Your print at retail, his gadget at x'etail.)
If making prints for display, make them plenty big enough and mount them with the same care and precision as you would handle your favorite salon exhibit.
Toning to blues, reds, etc., still seems to be a novelty to most people, so capitalize on it, and don’t foi'get it’s worth fifty cents more to do the toning job.
Make up a small display book of your work and keep it in the car with you for proof. Vary its composition of material and (again!) use generous-sized prints.
File your negatives carefully and charge at least 25 cents for 5x7 x-eprints, 50 cents for 8 x 10’s, and $1.00 or more for 11 x 14’s. These sums ax'e trade value, of coux'se.
Don’t be afraid to speculate in some instances. Take a shot, make a good print, and then walk in with your proposition. That print will be an effective selfstarter.—fes