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.
1. While the uses of the camera are practically unlimited, it is chiefly identified in the public mind to-day through its universal application to portraiture. Moreover, professional portraiture, generally speaking, means the use of a studio; or at any rate, a window suitably arranged for regulating light, unless artificial light is employed. Under these conditions the various systems of posing and lighting are applied to portraiture; hence the title of this volume, "Studio Portraiture and Studio System."
2. The following vitally important subjects are exhaustively treated in the following pages: The location of the studio; its ventilation; heating, lighting, fittings and accessories; most practical systems to employ in conducting the business; methods to adopt for bringing business to the studio; and a systematic plan for handling and finishing the work of a studio. Our ideas and methods are the result of years of experience of many leading American photographers, which if implicitly followed are certain to be of great benefit to those who wish to apply to their business, tried ideas and systems that have contributed to the money-making success of other pictorial enterprises.
3. As the perfect photographic portrait is, indeed, a rare achievement, it may be interesting to define the necessary qualifications of a good portrait. The general opinion on the subject is that a good portrait should be a faithful, thoroughly pleasing likeness of the sitter. It is in the word pleasing, however, that all the difficulty lies. It often happens, for instance, that in making two exposures, of the same sitter, within a few seconds of each other, same pose same lighting, etc., the result is two negatives of equal technical merit; yet one is a better likeness and a far more pleasing picture than the other. Careful study will reveal the fact that the better likeness has caught something characteristic of the sitter - the pose of the head, or a winning and agreeable expression of the features.
4. Besides technical quality and pose, the study of light and shade is absolutely essential to the success of the portrait photographer. The whole expression and artistic merit of a portrait depends, perhaps more on suitable lighting than on any other single factor. The reason for this is plain. Since the camera is practically limited to obtaining its effects in monochrome, it owes its chief measures of charm in results to skilfully managed contrasts of light and shade in the picture. For instance, a strong and rugged face may have its ruggedness emphasized disagreeably, by a cross or side lighting; while a full lighting from the front would subdue the strong lines, without destroying character. This instruction will demonstrate the toning down of a too pronounced line and also how the light may be softened to secure rounded modeling to the features.
5. The various studio lightings are exhaustively treated. Plain or broad lighting, where more of the face is illuminated than in shadow; Rembrandt lighting, with the greater portion of the face in shadow; Sarony, or half-shadow lighting; Hollinger, or half-tone lighting; Schriever lighting, for black and white draperies; all are treated at satisfying length in this volume. Numerous examples are shown to illuminate the text, making clear, to the observer, the true technique of portraiture by photography.
6. While technique is the foundation of photography, and is therefore essential, no matter how thoroughly one may be drilled in technique, the training in picture making may still be most incomplete. In past years, where the old school method of training students was employed, drilling in technique was carried to such excess that everything seemed to be mechanical. The art side of photography was left for them to ferret out as best they could. In training our students to-day, we give them this fundamental or technical training, but at the same time they are instructed in general art principles. For that reason, the student applying the instruction given in this library will, upon completing the course, not only have a good technical training, but also a knowledge of the art principles necessary to good picture making. By applying these methods the student is enabled to make pictures of much better general quality, from the beginning, than one who received instruction by the old system, which taught the technical side of photography only.
7. Simply observing the illustrations and studies which grace this volume will prove the advantages of a knowledge of art in the production of good pictures. These studies, made by representative members of the photographic profession of America, while exhibiting different phases of photographic work, are all individually artistic. You will note in the make up of the pictures that, while each contributor is a thorough master of the technical side of photography, each has demonstrated marked individuality on the art side of picture making.
PORTRAIT STUDY Study No. i-See Page 575, Vol. VIII Ryland W. Phillips.
8. As a matter of fact, the term technique in photography is seldom correctly comprehended. Its meaning, rightly interpreted, is that there should be just enough mechanical manipulation in the photograph to properly obtain the object in view. Beyond this, or when technique becomes too obtrusive, the effect is simply to mar the beauty of an otherwise artistic production, as scaffolding would a completed building. There is no art in portraiture in which technique predominates, and pictorial values are lacking when a photographer is more sensitive to technique than to beauty.
9. Perhaps one of the most hopeful signs of the times in the development of professional photography along broader lines, lies in the fact that photographic manipulation is no longer regarded as a mere mechanical process, inviting technical skill only, but is acknowledged to be an art, calling for art training and art appreciation. The public has learned to demand the application of art principles to photographic portraiture. This has vastly enlarged the field. No longer can portrait photography be regarded as a purely technical career, but must be considered a dignified and exacting profession, calling for intellect, refinement and taste, to a degree that exceeds most other callings. Indeed, it has often been stated that the same problems that meet the painter in portraiture also confront the photographer. Composition, balance, drawing, even color in a sense, are all as necessary to artistic success in photography as they are in painting.