This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Dress. Children photographed in the home should be dressed in keeping with their surroundings. If they are to be photographed with toys, they will naturally look better in their romping clothes than if dressed in their very best garb. If photographed for the sake of the portrait and no toys are admitted, then they should be gowned in keeping with the style of the portrait to be made. Usually, however, portraits of children in the home are valued more when made as the little ones appear when at play, or as they are seen throughout the day.
395. When a child is taken to a professional photographer's studio it is invariably clothed in white, and its best dress is used. It is perfectly natural that the mother should insist that the child's picture be taken this way, but this class of picture appeals to the parents only as a portrait, while the picture taken in the home appeals to them more, owing to the natural surroundings, and because the child is portrayed as they are accustomed to seeing it. A conventional style of picture made in the home would, therefore, be uninteresting and unappreciated.
Obtaining Expression. The obtaining of proper expression is one of the principal difficulties connected with photographic portraiture. The proper expression is controlled entirely by the photographer, who must have perfect control over his little subjects, so that whatever he does or says will interest them. Having obtained the desired expression, the making of the exposure must be done quickly and at a time when they are not moving about. To become expert at this requires practice. Even with children who are quite mischievous and move about considerably, there is a time when they are quite still for a moment, and this is the instant the exposure should be made.
397. By experience you will observe, when you have the close attention of a child, that there is a time, just before you are about to say something, when it has an expression of expectancy, which causes it instinctively to be quiet for an instant. This is one time that the exposure can be made. There is another time, immediately after you have done or said something which pleases the subject - about the moment it is sobering down and before it has become completely sober - when the exposure should be made. In the one case you get a more quiet attitude, in the other you obtain an expression of expectancy, the severity of which must be controlled by the manner of amusement or entertainment.
Entertaining Children. The secret of amusing or entertaining children, in order to obtain expression, lies in the simple manner of entertainment, which must be such that they can comprehend instantly what you are doing and see the amusing side of it at a glance. To employ any method beyond their comprehension, even if only slightly so, will give them a wondering expression, which will result in a stare, which is unnatural. One can do no better than to practice simple methods for obtaining expression. This will prove of real value for successful At-home Portraiture of children.