Daguerreian Society

The following article appeared in the April 1854 issue of "The 
Photographic and Fine Art Journal" Vol. 7, No. 4 (April 1854) pg. 111:
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                                    Rochester, Feb. 14th, 1854
  FRIEND SNELLING,--In compliance with your request, made during my 
late visit to your city, I have been induced to send these few lines 
for your valuable Journal.  There are two things I regret exceedingly:  
one is, that, as a daguerreotypist, I have done so little for its 
columns;  the other, my inability to write desirable and practical 
matter.  There are many, no doubt, who feel on this subject like 
myself; but should we all withhold our mites, one object in its 
publication would be defeated.  I have thought that a few general 
directions for obtaining the natural expression in our portraits would 
not be out of place in this communication, and will proceed:--Taking it 
for granted that you have a complete suite of rooms for your business, 
and some competent person to attend the reception room (I prefer a 
lady), where all the preliminary business of selecting cases, arranging 
prices, should be transacted, we will (supposing you have sitters) 
precede them to the operator's room, where you prepare the plate;  here 
you should be at home, not only with your subjects, but with your 
light, chemicals, and all pertaining to a speedy accomplishment of your 
task.  After the sitters are announced, the important first impression 
is to be made (not on the plate), but on the mind.  Be careful that it 
be a favorable one for yourself;  you might as well close your rooms at 
once, if you are a bashful man, or have not command of your temper;  a 
failure here decides your success as a daguerreotypist.  Meet your 
subject as you would an acquaintance, openly, frankly, but not too 
familiarly;  show them to the operator's chair;  talk of the weather, 
latest news, of picture taking or any pleasing subject; at the same 
time, make such observations on dress, general expression of 
countenance and eyes as will be guide for obtaining the best result, 
the first trial.  Should the sitters be bashful or diffident, induce 
them to talk;  if notional or obstinate, laugh them out of it good 
naturedly; humor them if cross, and flatter them if absolutely 
necessary to bring out a good expression;  but show them, in all, that 
you have command of your temper, a thorough knowledge of your business 
and their wants.  Should the subject take an easy, natural position in 
the chair, let it be retained;  adjust head-rest to this position, and 
direct the eyes in the proper direction, by placing a flower or picture 
for the eye to rest upon;  then, by asking some question that will 
induce a reply, watch the moment when the muscles are relaxed and the 
countenance expressive, to remove the cap, and the result is (if your 
impression is made, as it should be, in five or ten seconds) a life-
like and pleasing expression, without which, be your chemical effects 
ever so good, your picture is worthless.
   I deem these remarks, at this advanced stage of the art, of more 
importance than anything I could say pertaining to chemicals or 
manipulation of plates, so familiar to every operator.  Should you 
desire it, I will give my process for daguerreotyping children, with 
whom I am very successful.*
                                             E. T. WHITNEY.

Our young artists, at least, will undoubtedly thank you for it, as much 
as ourselves.--Ed.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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