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.
Position Of The Feet. While it is not objectionable to have the toe of the shoe show beneath the dress, never allow more than that to appear. Subjects cannot stand comfortably or gracefully with the greatest amount of weight of the body resting on one foot. Frequently, unless the subject rests properly on both feet, ugly curves will be produced in the lines running from the waist to the feet. With the weight on one foot, one hip will generally appear higher than the other. For that reason always see that subjects stand on both feet.
372. The part of the subject nearest to the camera will always appear larger in the picture. Therefore, subjects possessing large hips should be photographed at a greater distance from the camera than people of more slender build. Where the feet show in sitting positions, have them rest on a pillow or foot-stool. This will supply a pleasing bend to the knee. By placing one foot on a pillow, one knee is slightly raised above the other, breaking up what might be a monotonous line of the gown.
Posing Stout People. Extremely stout people should never be photographed broadside, it being far better to have them turned to show a side view of the figure. Stout persons are best photographed standing-full length figure. It is advisable to have them lean forward a trifle. If very stout, they should lean forward considerably. It is well to make the figure a trifle smaller on the plate than for ordinary subjects, and allow plenty of margin. This will greatly assist in reducing the appearance of massive-ness.
Posing Short And Small Subjects. Short, fairly stout subjects may be made to appear tall by posing the figure facing a trifle to one side, and by the use of some small accessory. This accessory, a chair, table, or whatever it may be, should be placed somewhat to the rear, which will have the effect of giving the subject a taller appearance. Slender subjects usually appear best in a sitting position, and, if standing, are generally best posed in two-third figure. These methods will cause them to appear larger.
375. The height of the camera has much to do with the proper photographing of different size subjects. For instance, a tall person may be made to appear shorter by raising the camera, which gives the effect of looking down on them. Lowering the instrument will assist in slightly exaggerating the height of a short person. By a little attention to the height of the camera the appearance of the majority of subjects may be much improved. All subjects have a distinctive carriage and a natural pose, which they unconsciously assume if properly handled. Study their peculiarities; make them appear natural in pictures and you will please them and also their friends.
Arranging The Drapery. After posing the hands, the arranging of drapery is next in importance. Avoid spreading the gown as though it were being used in some show window. Allow it to hang natural and in folds. without apparent attempt at special arrangement. This will give a more natural and easy appearance. Each sub-ject must be studied carefully. Watch every move they make as they walk about before taking their position. They will unconsciously assume some graceful attitude that will give you a suggestion upon which to work. Within a few minutes some characteristic pose can be observed which you must try to retain in the portrait.
377. For a standing full-length figure, you may find it necessary to have your subject walk about the room and finally step to the place where you wish to make the picture. In this way you supply action and motion and secure a portrait full of life. There are subjects, however, who are so plain, and constrained in manner, that a picture of this kind would be unnatural; and, for such as theseselect sitting positions and allow them to assume a natural attitude of their own. In the latter case you should pay close attention to the drapery. Do not allow it to spread. On the contrary, draw it about the feet in heavy, graceful folds.
378. A lady gowned in street costume is best portrayed in a walking attitude. A lady in evening dress should be portrayed in a more restful position, whether sitting or standing.