LITTLE GIRL’S CAMERA.
What She Did With It, and What Some Other Girls Might Do.
She was the loveliest little figure, wandering about the big hotel galleries or sitting by herself on the sand, very neatly but plainly dressed, and just 14 years old, she told me. When we became more or less friendly, for I used to ask her to come sit under my big beach umbrella, she explained she had come to the seaside for her health. which any one could plainly see, and that she came alone, because to pay her board and traveling expenses was all a hard-working, self-sacrificing mother and elder sister could manage.
It weighed on her tender conscience that she could do nothing to help them bear the burden of her summer’s outing, that the doctor had said was so necessary, and we talked it over often under my beach umbrella, until she made a great discovery. She had been given by her kind-hearted doctor a little eight-dollar snap shot camera, and one day, having taken a dozen photographs of my favorite sand seat, our party under the umbrella, clever glimpses of the bathing beach and our two dogs, my brother guaranteed to buy every one of the dozen at 80 cents each in order that she could have the photographs developed, printed, and mounted.
Now it cost her $1.45 to have them made ready for the sale, but as she sold the whole dozen to us for $3.60, her profits amounted to $2.15. But her camera only held twelve films, and a fresh roll cost 65 cents, so in the end she had cleared just $1.60. It didn’t seem very much, yet it was only the beginning, for our pictures proved so satisfactory we told others on the beach about it, and before the week was over she had more orders than she could fill. Everybody wanted to be taken over and over again, and our little photographer found that she could clear a profit of 13 cents on every picture she made. Since she could not afford to buy the necessary outfit for printing and mounting the photographs herself, they had to be sent to a factory, where all that was done for 12 cents per picture; as her camera held only enough films for one dozen photographs, costing 65 cents for the dozen, these items took a great deal off of her earnings. Yet she managed to clear $7 for her first week and $9 the next, nearly enough to meet the expenses of her board at the hotel, she told me delightedly.
It was very seldom she was not able to average $7 a week for the eight weeks she stayed at the beach, for every day new people came who wanted their pictures taken, and at length the kindly hotel proprietor paid her $25 to make a series of pictures in and about his hotel to be used as illustrations for his season’s prospectus and guide book.
She could hardly believe the money was her own, so great a sum did it appear, half enough to pay the big doctor’s bill her illness had cost, with $5 over to supply some materials she wanted for a new project This last was her own idea–to make pretty souvenirs and sell them to visitors. They were hand made albums of half a dozen bristol board sheets fastened together with stout silk cords, and then buying a printing frame and sheets of prepared paper she would make blue prints and mount them herself on the bristol board.
These albums gave the most picturesque and interesting views about our summer resort, and some of them had pasted to the sheets carefully pressed samples of the prettiest wild flower and seaweed found on shore or in the fields. Her albums cost her a great deal of patience and some outlay, but she sold nearly a dozen of them for $4 apiece, and the result was another $25 profit When at last she bade us farewell and packed up her little camera it was a rosy, happy face that turned homeward again. By her own exertions she had paid her board nearly the whole of her eight weeks’ stay and had helped with the big bills at home. The picture-taking had kept her out of doors every fair day; in search of pretty nooks and subjects, wild flowers and novel scenes she had taken many long walks, and ever busy and interested with her camera she grew as well and strong as she had ever been.
“I shall be a professional photographer when I grow up,” she solemnly assured me, patting her well-worn little camera with loving hands, “and I wish I could tell some other girls who want to make a little money how I made mine, for I think photography is just the sort of work that would suit girls, don’t you?”
The Inter Ocean [Chicago IL] 5 August 1894: p. 31
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is a rosy picture of a city child sent to the sea-side to recover her health. One hopes that the enterprising young woman did not have a relapse when she returned to the privations and worries of home and grew up to become a celebrated professional photographer, well-able to keep her mother and elder sister in comfort.
Mrs Daffodil has previously written of a young woman who made a career photographing pets.
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.