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.
382. When photographing children there are many little details that are commonly overlooked, yet are very important for successful portraiture. While you may have good illumination, and even natural, easy positions of the little subjects, they may lack something to make them entirely satisfactory, unless care has been taken throughout all the manipulation.
383. As stated in the Brief General Instruction, first attention should be given to the selection of a portion of the room supplying the best light for the kind and style of a picture you expect to make. With this settled, observe the kind of a background you will have for your subject under such conditions. The background should not be white, neither is it advisable to have it black nor very dark. A neutral tint is best, it being more in keeping with the subject.
384. Where dark furnishings predominate in the home, these may be broken by means of portieres, draperies, sofa pillows, etc., of a more neutral tone. Any of these articles properly arranged will tend to neutralize the tone and overcome the decided contrast which is very undesirable. The admission of a portion of a window in the view will, many times, improve the effect of the picture, and give it more of an appearance of home. So, before placing your subject observe the amount of space that will be included in the picture, and make your alterations accordingly. All such changes must be made to appear natural and careless, and be entirely void of the appearance of being placed there in a stereotyped form expressly for the picture. While making these arrangements you must have in mind about the kind of a picture you are going to make, whether sitting, kneeling or lounging on the floor, or arranged in a chair, couch, or at a table, etc. This must all be considered. This accomplished you are ready to set up your camera.
Arranging The Camera. The arranging of the camera is a very important consideration, for if the camera is too high it will make a marked difference in the resulting picture. Where a child is seated on the floor the tripod must be lowered as much as possible, so as to keep the lens on a level with the eyes of the subject. Where they are arranged at some elevation the camera must be raised accordingly. A good rule to follow is to keep the lens as near on a level with the eyes of the subject as possible, and for Plain or Broad Lighting place the camera as close to the source of illumination as convenient. The closer you can work to the light the better, as this will allow a broader light on the subject.
Lighting. Plain Broad Lightings are best for children, and they should be arranged so that the light falls from the side and front. The side light supplies sufficient shadows to give roundness. The front light combined with side light gives more general illumination. A front light alone, or, in other words, the subject facing square to the light, will give you flat results. So aim for some side light, and where the subject is gowned in white arrange the figure turned slightly from the light so it will not fall broadly upon the drapery. This will throw the dress into slight shadow, thus producing softness to the drapery; while roundness will be given to the face if it is turned more toward the source of light. For black drapery you may invert this order, thus permitting the black goods to receive full illumination, and by turning the face slightly from the light you will give a better balance to the picture.