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.
Spacing. When observing the image on the ground-glass always provide for sufficient space in front of the face, thus supplying space for the subject to look into. If placed in a lounging position the feet may come close to the edge of one side of the picture space, but the head should not come anywhere near the opposite edge of the space, but may occupy a position slightly beyond the center.
Posing The Child. No greater mistake can be made than to attempt posing a young child - every action should come from the subject itself. To attempt posing the little one out of its own natural attitude would result in failure. Little girl subjects may be well handled playing with a doll, a toy piano, or similar toy. A boy will be interested in a picture book or some boy's toys. Avoid large articles, as they detract from the portrait. A few simple toys are not objectionable, but many good results may be obtained without them. As children naturally assume very graceful, easy positions of their own, with a little coaching and observing some of their characteristic attitudes, you will be able to produce very interesting pictures.
The Light. One should aim to have as strong a light as possible, so the exposure may be made very quickly. Use all the light obtainable, yet do not have it too harsh. If the source of illumination is somewhat small, you should diffuse it slightly by pinning a small piece of cheese-cloth across the window, or at least the lower half of the window. See that the child is reasonably in range of this light; in fact, it would be better if placed in the center of the strongest illumination.
390. A reflector may be required to assist in illuminating the shadows. Before placing the subject in final position, locate your camera and obtain a focus on the ground-glass. Insert the plate-holder and be ready to make the exposure at the opportune moment. If you possess a good rapid rectilinear or anastigmat lens you should not stop it down to any extent. With good light conditions and using the lens wide open the exposure may be made as quickly as you can press the bulb and release it. The exact exposure required can only be ascertained by experiments.
Accessories. Careful attention should be paid to the accessories, and if you have any doubt as to the value of the admission of any article into the composition, remove it. Do not include in the picture any accessories which have not a direct connection with or do not improve the composition.
392. The high chair, the cradle, the little chair or stool, the rocking-horse, a toy piano, a little table (on which may be spread a luncheon), and an endless number of miniature accessories and toys may be advantageously included in the little portrait to very materially assist in securing an interesting child study. By no means admit too many of them, however, in a single picture. Amidst these surroundings the child will appear perfectly at home, and its expression will be more natural.
393: When toys are employed do not have them arranged so they appear too conspicuously. When large toys are used place them to one side of the subject - never in front of them - for all articles in the foreground will be exaggerated in size and appear too prominently. If used in the background, or even at the side, they will appear less conspicuous and will not detract from the portrait itself.