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.
Lighting. The lighting is very important in drapery portraits for the light must, in a way, fall across the subject, and not fall from the front. A cross light will give snap and roundness, while a front light, where drapery is employed, will result in flatness. Therefore, place the subject so as to receive the light from the side, and only partly from the front.
Statuettes. The almost perfect forms of some little children, between the ages of two and five years, make most beautiful statuette pictures, and many interesting studies may be made of them. These little subjects are usually best photographed in a standing position, and, while they may be photographed entirely nude, a tiny bit of drapery gathered in one hand, draped across the trunk very carelessly, will aid in breaking lines and will not detract from the subject itself. (See Illustration No. 24.)
409. Sitting positions may also be made of them, but they are not so attractive, and do not show their little forms so well. The best effects are obtained by placing the child on a white pedestal, or some small object to give it a support on which to stand. The figure should be so turned as to give the most pleasing lines of composition. The body is best posed when at an angle to the camera, but broad-side to the light.
410. The arrangement of the feet is of considerable importance. Both should not be the same distance from the camera. The attitude of the subject will determine exactly the position they should occupy. One should avoid the duplicating of lines or giving exactly the same positions for either hands or feet.
411. A black background should, of course, be employed, and the ground turned away from the source of light to keep it as dark as possible. The body of the subject should face the light, to receive full illumination, and the exposure should be made as short as possible. The object of the short exposure is two-fold. First, the little subject cannot hold an attitude for any length of time. Therefore, an exposure not to exceed a second or two should be given, and the illumination should be sufficient to enable you to make exposures in this time. Second, if too long an exposure be given there is danger of halation around the white figure and drapery, contrasting, as it does, with the background.
412. Many times it will be necessary to etch away the effect of halation around the figure, and perhaps remove the film comprising the background, in order that this may be made perfectly black. This is done by scraping away the film with the etching knife, instruction for which is given in Volume X.
413. Never start to etch away from the outline of the figure. Begin about one-sixteenth inch from it, and after cutting away the background entirely, then, using the rounded edge of the etching blade, work in toward the figure outline, for in this way you secure a soft blending; whereas, by starting to etch away from the outline itself a white line would result.
414. Your first efforts should be devoted to simple positions, always having in mind the attitudes you expect your little subject to take. Strive to carry out these ideas in the picture. Working in a haphazard manner, with no particular aim or idea in view, will invariably result in failure. It is, therefore, advisable to first train your subject beforehand, before undressing it, practicing different attitudes, and when the child seems to understand what you require, prepare it for the position. Work as rapidly as possible, for the little subject becomes tired very easily and you lose the life that should be injected into such a picture.
415. In Illustrations Nos. 21, 22, and 23 we supply some suggestions for suitable positions for infants and children. The infant's picture shown in the lower row of the picture in Illustration No. 21 will give you an idea of the arrangement of the pillow for supporting a baby. The upper row of pictures in this same illustration offer some suggestions for pictures of older children, and Illustration No. 23 supplies a very simple study for hand posing, while in Illustration No. 24 we present a statuette portrait, very simply posed and easy to produce. These examples we trust will serve the purpose of supplying suggestions of simple positions that may be employed for child portraiture.