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.
10. When a photographer begins, with the first touch, to bring his model into pose; when he selects his view point, and turns a fold of drapery, he is taking the first steps toward artistic achievement, and the spirit of art is stirring within him. The merciless severity of lens, plates, and chemicals is no hinderance to photography in the hands of a master. Like the painter, the photographer substitutes breadth for detail; subdued effects for sharp outlines; softens light and shade when necessary; and the limitations of tools and processes are as nothing, if the spirit of art dwells within him.
11. Invention, design, feeling, imagination, all coalesce in the finished result, as in a painting; while the picture itself is lifted out of the range of photography into the realm of art by such treatment. For this reason, a painter's opinion is sometimes useful in determining photographic values. Von Lenbach, the great portrait painter, always declared that, "Instinctively one should always grasp and hold fast but one thing in portraiture, namely, the head;" that "this exponent of the soul must stand out in undisturbed unity;" that "accessories of whatever kind, whether of dress or of form, must not detract and weaken the impression that the head should produce;" that "a portrait, to attain its full aim and significance, must look out from a background of nothingness and must be shorn of every detail that interferes with this unity of purpose."
12. To illustrate the application of this principle to photographic portraiture, we recommend the study of the pictures selected for reproduction in this volume. These portraits show an unusual breadth and largeness of effect, and in many instances are specially remarkable for the strength and definition given the central point of interest in each-the head. There is no weakening of the unity of these pictures, by the crowding in of accessories that would surely divide the attention. In producing these portraits we feel that the makers have been more than fortunate in depicting character. Where art has to do with character, the simplest statements are the strongest. The portraits that impress us the most are those conceived in simplicity, and vested with the personality that holds us.
PORTRAIT STUDY Study No. 2-See Page 575, Vol. VIII John H Garo.
"A RANCHMAN" Study No. 3-See Page 575, Vol. VIII Rudolf Eickemeyer
13. No matter how successful, or strongly individual, is the work produced by even the highest class of photographers, however, all of these artists were obliged to study the fundamental principles and to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the technical side of photography.
14. It is absolutely essential that anyone desirous of securing the best of photographic results know the underlying principles of the technical side of photography. No art, or artistic skill, will amount to anything when applied to photography, if the photographer does not know how to make a technically correct negative. It is absolutely essential that he be able to reproduce in the photograph exactly what is seen in the original. When able to do this, it is possible to inject into the work artistic qualities as well as individuality.
15. The photographers whose representative work is shown in this volume have all passed through the various stages of technique, and after being able to master this side of photography have branched off along lines of their own. The work they now produce is richly imbued with their individuality. You should study these examples carefully, comparing one portrait with another, and noticing wherein they differ. You will observe that all prints are from practically correctly developed and exposed negatives. Individuality has been injected into the composition, posing and lighting, as well as the printing and general finishing.
True, there are cases in which the negative was doctored to a considerable degree, the individuality of many photographic artists being displayed in this manner. Some have certain methods of lighting the subject; others by their artistic instinct are able to pose, and reproduce the pose, in a manner that another photographer could hardly hope to attain.
16. No matter what method is employed to secure individuality, all of the work must be built on a solid technical foundation.
17. It is our aim in this volume to train you to secure technically correct portraits. A thorough understanding of lighting and posing alone, however, will not give you all the knowledge required. You must understand thoroughly the art of negative making and know exactly what effect is produced by the various chemical manipulations. It is, also, just as essential to be familiar with the various printing processes, because the artistic worker usually has in mind, when posing and lighting the subject, an exact idea of how the reproduction will look when ready to deliver to the customer. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you possess an all around knowledge of photography. With this general knowledge, you will not be handicapped in any way, but will be able to use judgment and carry out your own ideas in portraiture.
18. The first step to take, after you are able to make a technically correct negative, is to understand light and its effects, and be able to control it. This accomplished, the next step is to understand the forms of composition, applying them to the posing of subjects. With a thorough understanding of lighting, posing and composition, you will then be able to place the subject under the light and apply your photographic knowledge in a way that will enable you to secure technically correct results. From this point your individuality should begin to grow and show in your work. Strive to break away from all set forms to which the average commercial photographer is bound.
19. Art cannot be hurried and you must, therefore, work carefully, mastering each lesson before taking up another.