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.
Studio Unnecessary. Of course it is understood that a studio is not required for At-home portraiture. The carefully arranged lightings of the studio do not, as a rule, produce portraits of friends as we are accustomed to see them, but the lightings possible to secure in an ordinary-room do assist very materially in rendering a true likeness. Of course, there are some disadvantages in making At-home portraits: First, the light is at times so poor that a lengthy and tedious exposure is required, unless you possess a very rapid portrait or anastigmat lens. Second, the room is sometimes so restricted in size as to hamper one in getting the proper view of the subject. In such cases as this, it should be borne in mind that there is "out-doors," with its unlimited amount of open air and light, to fall back upon. In the summer-time, however, there should be plenty of light, even indoors, for At-home portraiture, with the lens working at f. 8.
Advantages Of A Studio. The large skylight and portrait lenses in the professional studio serve to shorten the exposure, and to that extent are of great assistance. By carefully following the instructions given in this lesson, however, no difficulty should be experienced in properly lighting the various subjects, by means of the illumination from an ordinary window, in such a manner as to make long exposures entirely unnecessary.
Advantages Of Home Surroundings. With proper accessories the studio photographer can obtain the results secured in any home, if time is taken and necessary patience exercised to obtain the home effect. This is very seldom done, though. Posing with the aid of painted backgrounds very seldom gives the pleasing results to be secured among home surroundings. Natural effects and perfect likenesses, therefore, are far more easily secured in the home.
The Background. The question of the kind of a background to use is very important. Portrait lightings made in the home, or by the regulation window, are sometimes a failure, because these accessories are unsuited to the surroundings. A most pleasing background is one painted a plain, neutral tint, slightly clouded. Such a ground is suitable for bust portraits or two-thirds figures, and supplies an excellent universal ground that is easily controlled in the lighting.
Temporary Backgrounds. In case of emergency, suitable material can be found in any home, which may be successfully employed for backgrounds. Dark shawls, draperies, rugs, or even the focusing cloth, may be employed, and if properly handled good effects may be obtained with them. The plain painted, neutral tinted ground, slightly clouded, is one of the most serviceable pieces of accessory you can have, and with it many obstacles may be overcome. Such a ground should be stretched on a wooden frame, to keep it from wrinkling. The frame may be fitted with braces, or feet, which are castored, enabling you to not only move it about freely, but also serving as a brace to hold the background in position without other support. An excellent background carrier (the Ingento) is shown in Illustration No. 9. It can be obtained from any dealer in photo supplies, and is a decided convenience to the At-home portrait photographer for making bust portraits or two-thirds figures.