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.
Combination Group Pictures. Where a number of different positions are made, usually orders can be obtained for a combination group of the different positions, all arranged and mounted on one card. In Illustration No. 57 is presented three such groups. The first, is of a child about two and a half years old; the second, a child about four years old, and the third, a child six years of age. In these three illustrations we have endeavored to present positions suitable to children of different ages.
429. You will observe quite a contrast in pose between the first and last group. The child five or six years old will gracefully fall into any position given, while the young child must be left to assume its own position. All you can hope to do is to place playthings, etc., in their way and allow them to do the rest, while you watch for the opportunity to make an exposure when the desired position and expression has been obtained.
430. Illustration No. 68 shows a gathering of some 200 children, all sizes and ages, assembled into one large group. While the reproduction is small, being reduced from a print 3 x 4 feet in size, yet it will serve to offer suggestions for suitable positions in the making of children's pictures. A series of child costume studies is shown in Illustration No. 58a, page 231.
The Light. Children's pictures should be made in good light. Use all the light obtainable, but it must not be harsh. Should the open light be too strong, draw the white curtains on the skylight sufficiently to diffuse the harsh light.
Background. Neutral tinted or light backgrounds are most suitable for children. Working diagonally across the room, facing the light, will give full benefit of all the illumination in the room, eliminating dense shadows and resulting in faster exposures, which are quite essential in juvenile portraiture.
Children's Portraits In Drapery. Sweet expressions on the innocent little faces of children are frequently ruined in portrait effects by faulty dressing. Some parents have an idea that a gown all bedecked with ribbons and laces will make a beautiful picture. This is true as far as the gown is concerned, but the over-pretty gown detracts
Illustration No. 57. Combination Groups of Children.
See Paragraph No. 428.
Illustration No. 58. Congress of Babies.
See paragraph No 439 from what should be the principal point of interest in the portrait. By a "carefully careless" arrangement of the simple drapery the interest in the portrait is centered where it properly belongs. If it is desired to drape the figure, any soft goods, such as chiffon of a pink color, may be used. Never employ blue. Pink or delicate Nile-green is best for all-around purposes.
434. Children usually allow their hands to fall into graceful positions. Not being conscious of posing for a picture, almost any turn or little fold of the hand is void of any attempt at posing. There is a perfect absence of the usual stiffness of the adult, with which the photographer sometimes has to contend. If there is a particular pose you desire to have them take, show the position by assuming it yourself. Then assist them in taking the same attitude.
435. As the child is generally a perfect mimic, in nine cases out of ten they will drop into the suggested attitude in a natural, graceful manner and there will be little to correct in obtaining exactly what you want. Words of encouragement or some form of entertainment will bring them into closer touch with you. Children instinctively fold their arms or clasp the hands, especially when their little bodies are bared and they are garbed only in dainty drapery; and then, too, the arrangement of the hands adds much to the drawing of the finished portrait. Of course all children are not graceful, and those who lack this quality should not be posed in positions that will seem unnatural. Portray the child as it really is. A child void of grace should be photographed in as simple a manner as possible; an attempt in any other direction would be fruitless.