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.
433. Very large groups cannot be made in the home unless a large room with sufficient illumination can be had; therefore, it may be necessary for those who are compelled to work in small quarters to arrange their large groups on the porch or somewhere in the shade of the home.
434. Usually from two to four, with sometimes as many as six figures, can be successfully lighted in an ordinary room; more than this number should not be attempted unless an extraordinary large room can be had with good illumination. Those who have the proper facilities, or the resident photographer who is working by a perpendicular light - which is generally an ordinary, large window built in the residence, and from which sufficient illumination can be obtained to make any style work, even to good sized groups - will experience no difficulty in producing satisfactory results.
435. In Illustration No. 27 we have a group of two children in which you will observe that the pyramid arrangement has been adhered to. In this group, we recognize in the older child the principal, the smaller one smiling and content in the arms of her elder sister. Observe the congeniality in pose and expression - both having a perfectly natural attitude. (See Page 169.)
436. In Illustration No. 28 we have a group of three children. Here the pyramidal arrangement is more in evidence. The principal member of the group is on the end, the other members close around her. Note that they are not arranged on parallel lines and that all hands and arms are differently posed, breaking up all lines and avoiding repetition of arrangement. (See Page 169.)
437. In Illustration No. 29 we have a very pretty pose of a mother and two daughters. Observe the arrangement of the drapery and the preference in position given to the younger daughter, the other occupying a rear position. The group tells its own story.
438. In Illustration No. 30 we show a family group. This is well balanced, well arranged and congeniality throughout is very apparent. A very important feature of this group is the distribution of color. In the previous illustrations we have pictured only white drapery, while in this instance there are mixed colors - some dark and some light. Many make the mistake of distributing the dark and light evenly throughout the group, first placing a subject gowned in dark drapery, then a light one, then another dark one, and so on. This is an error. You must avoid a spotted group by arranging the majority of one color in one group by themselves. This constitutes your principal, around which the other should be arranged in separate groups.
439. However, should your principal group be gowned in dark drapery and you still have a number dressed in dark while all the rest are dressed in white, then place the remaining dark-gowned members at one end, forming a small group at that end. The result will be that when viewing the picture, the eye is attracted, first by the principal group in dark, next by the members in white, and finally by the single figure or small group on the end. Such a group will never lack interest, but, on the contrary, will grow more fascinating each time you look at it. No matter how natural all the members may appear and how gracefully each individual may be posed, yet if the dark and light gowns are scattered throughout the group, it will look spotted and ill-pleasing to the eye. Your first consideration must, therefore, be concentration of color. Collect your group and divide it into two parts, separating the light-gowned members from the dark. Construct your principal group from the smallest number of one color.
440. In Illustration No. 30 you will note that there are four members dressed in dark and one in mixed colors. The least number in one decided color is always more conspicuous and, therefore, must not be scattered, but concentrated in one locality as much as possible. In the large group they should not occupy the extreme ends, neither should they hold a central position. A little to one side is best, usually the left side is selected. The ends of the group should always be made up of persons gowned in the same color - either dark or light - both ends must balance. Referring again to this illustration, observe we have formed one end of our group by arranging first the mother, in a dark dress, then the two daughters, who are gowned in white. The three complete the first and principal section of the group. Next, the father was seated comfortably at the further end, with one son sitting on the arm of his chair. We placed another son in the center, and finally, between the two groups, arranged the younger boy in the foreground, connecting and completing the group.
Study No. 14 - See Page 403 TWO AGAINST ONE. John S. Neary.
Illustration No. 29 - See Paragraph No. 437 Group - Mother and Children.
Illustration No. 30 - See Paragraph No. 438 Family Croup.
441. Upon first glance at this picture, the eye is attracted to the brightest spots, which in this case are the two children dressed in white. Almost at the same moment the sweet expression on the mother's face is observed. The little one resting on mama's knee and the standing figure leaning over the chair help to cement this group together and make it complete in itself. Gradually the eyes drift across the picture until you reach the face of the father with the three sons around him, forming the additional group, the principal subject of which is the father. By a glance over the entire group you are impressed with pleasing countenances denoting congeniality.
442. By reference to the lines drawn across different portions of this group, you will note how we have divided it into sections; each section remains a very pretty group by itself, yet each individual group has a principal of its own, less conspicuous, however, than the groups collectively.
443. Larger groups are constructed along these same lines, and you must bear in mind that your individuality will count to a great extent after you have mastered these elementary principles of arranging small groups.