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.
Practice Work. As practically an open light is used when photographing children, little or no attention need be paid to the curtains. If the light appears a trifle harsh, drawing a section of the diffusing curtains sufficiently to diffuse the strong light on the subject is all that is required for general results with infant subjects. Where it is desired to preserve all of the detail in the drapery, with infants or little children, the diffusing screen may be employed. By placing the screen between the light and the subject the light may be diffused on the drapery, and by separating the curtains on the top row of the screen stronger light can be admitted on the face, thus supplying catch-lights for the drapery.
462. For a first experience in photographing children it is advisable to devote the entire attention to obtaining expression. Train yourself in the art of entertaining children to win their confidence. With this accomplished the battle is more than half won, for with the confidence of the little subject every move you make will be observed; and it requires only the right move, at the proper time, to obtain the desired expression. One should aim to acquire some original method for attracting the attention of children and obtaining the desired expression. The value of this is far reaching, for children seldom forget the little tricks of the photographer, and quite frequently they are repeated in the home, for the amusement of parents and little playmates, thus keeping the photographer's name alive in a very effective way. It is not necessary to adopt many methods of interesting little ones, but those you do settle upon learn to use well.
463. The next most important consideration is to be able to judge just when to make the exposure, because the exposure must be made at a moment when the child is not moving about, and usually the desired expression presents itself when the child is not still. There is always a time (but it lasts for only a moment) when the expression can be recorded on the plate, during which time the subject does not move.
464. By your movements the child may become so interested that it will follow you in any direction, so it is possible to control their every action. The moment to make the exposure is immediately after something has been done that seemingly pleases the little subject. At once repeat the same movement, when instinctively they will become perfectly quiet, waiting for the particular trick or movement to be made again, retaining the same expression caused from your previous maneuvers. At this time the exposure must be made. Sometimes the proper expression can be obtained just before a certain movement is made, but you must always lead the child up to expecting something, and constantly watching every movement. As soon as you observe that it is about to quiet down, immediately press the bulb.
465. To accomplish the best results requires practice and plenty of patience. A careful study of child nature is necessary to an understanding of their different temperaments, and whenever the opportunity presents itself to photograph children, make numerous negatives, changing the positions for each exposure. As the little ones tire quickly, work rapidly and hold their continuous interest until all the negatives desired have been made. Use a wide open lens, or as nearly open as possible, and where stopping down is necessary employ the largest stop possible that will obtain clear definition.
466. From the negatives make proof prints. Note on the back of each the methods employed in securing the different expressions. This data will be valuable in future experiments, and, therefore, the proofs should be filed away very carefully.