Sunday, August 1, 2010

The intention of this little book is to say a few words in a kindly way to those who have photographs taken, in order than the intercourse between them and their photographer may be pleasant, and result in the most successful pictures. People who desire pictures generally seen [sic] unwilling to give the necessary time to secure good ones. As time is precious therefore, we publish this that you may be informed beforehand on certain pints [sic] a knowledge of which will save time. Please peruse what follows carefully.

[The Photographer] is entitled to the same respect and consideration from you as your minister, your physician, or your lawyer, and it is just as essential that he should have rules for the best government of his establishment as it is for anyone else whom you patronize, consequently you should be quite unwilling to trespass upon such reasonable regulations as he may make as you would to apply a flyblister when you [sic] physician orders you to take soothing syrup.

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

…the light is best when the heavens are clouded and the sun shines through the clouds. Lighthaired and lighteyed subjects should avoid a very bright day if convenient.

Arrangements for the babies should be made so as not interfere with their daily sleep, as they look and feel so much better and sweeter after a nap.

Arrange matters at the office, or the shop, or at home, or with you [sic] creditors, so that you can take it perfectly easy during the operations of awaiting your turn and the making of your picture. If you do, the likeness will be calm, peaceful, and true to you, and you will feel repaid for your tranquility.

Robert Cornelius

Dress is a matter which should have your careful attention. The photographer is very much tried by his patrons sometimes, who place upon their persons, when about to sit for a picture, all sorts of gewgaws and haberdasheries which they never wear when at home, or when mingling among their friends. The consequence is some miserable distortions and caricatures, which chagrin all concerned. Dress naturally, and think a little while you are about it.

Ladies with dark or brown hair especially, should avoid such contrast [very light colors with their very dark hair.] Open lacework collars and embroideries are prettier than solid ones, which the latter are apt to take white. Ladies and children with light hair should dress in something lighter than those whose hair is dark or brown. We will give you a photographic reason for this. Light substances photograph more quickly than dark. Hence is a fair person wears dark dresses, either the person wil be overdone and vice versa with a dark person.

This subject [behavior] we broach reluctantly, but we often meet the opposition from our patrons which is certain to spoil the results, and which absorbs too much time. For our mutual good, permit us to be frank. The headrest must be used, not to give the position, but that you may keep it. The natural pulsations of the body cause it to move in (in spite of the strongest will) sufficient to make your negative useless. Time will be saved then, by it’s use. Wink as much as you please, but don’t turn your eyes. While sitting for your picture, forget all dolefulness, and also forget where you are. Whistle Yankee Doodle mentally, or think of some pleasant thing that will enliven your spirits and impress a pleasant look upon you [sic] face.

You cannot judge of your picture from the negative, so please save our time by not asking to see it. We will show you a printed proof, and sit you again if it is unsatisfactory. Please give us time to print your pictures carefully and well.

We are always glad to take a reasonable amount of paints with children. They are subjects that make lovely pictures, but they are often difficult to secure. We can always get something of them, and if it is not satisfactory the first or second time, it is not apt to be so all that day and it is best to bring them again. Never threaten a child if it won’t sit, and never coax it with sweetmeats.


Our prices are kept at reasonable rates. There may be work done for less, but we ask that quality be given the preference.

- Edward L. Wilson, 1871


Transcribed from an exhibit at the Pipestone, MN Historical Museum.

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