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.
By Wm. Shewell Ellis.
638. That we owe a great deal to the "Old School" in photography is readily granted. To these early workers we are indebted for most of the technical perfection that has come to us in the profession today. Considering the difficulties incident to the making of wet plates, slow emulsion, and poor lens work, it is really remarkable that these men were able to produce such successful photographs as they did.
639. Following the same line as the other arts and crafts, when men became thorough masters of their implements, the esthetic side then had time to develop.
640. The portrait photographer can gain no greater inspiration than in the study of modern paintings. How strong this influence has been can be seen from the great advances made in pictorial photography of late years. Some few of the "Old School" have tabooed the artistic in photography, but these in time will be obliged to change or give way to the new work, for experience is proving every day that the public demands it.
641. The successful portrait photographers of today are men who have worked not alone for chemically perfect results, but to make photographs that may truly be called portraits. To photograph a person is comparatively easy, but it is quite another matter to make that photograph not only a good likeness, but to put into it those other qualities - individuality, character, good composition, and technique - all of which combine to constitute a portrait.
643. Perhaps the most difficult branch of photography is that of depicting childhood. The mechanical part of our work is in such evidence that it becomes part of the art to successfully keep it in the background. In other words, the one who is able so to interest the child in its play, that the child is unconscious of its surroundings, alone can be classed as a successful child photographer.
643. To accomplish this the studio should be as much like a home as it is possible to make it. A large volume of light is essential to obtain speed in exposure. An ordinary window, fitted in the upper half with prismatic glass, will give quick light, and still retain the home effect. The bottom sash should be curtained with a light and dark shade, working from the lower ledge up. With a light of this character almost any angle can be obtained to photograph a child. The farther from the light the softer is the portrait. In fact, a perfectly flat light will often give a successful effect, especially where the child has large eyes. With our modern lenses and fast plates the results are wholly dependent on the "man behind the gun." It is to this fact, more than to any other, that we may look for the difference between the Old and the New School in Photography.
644. A few years ago the photographer was satisfied to stand behind the camera, and make a noise like a dog or toot a horn. Is it any wonder that in the Old School portraits of children, the child appeared either stiff or had a startled expression? Today the public demands more, and this desire on the part of the public for more intelligent work has attracted to the profession a higher grade of men.
645. The composition of a picture is in itself a study. The filling of a given space so as to make a photograph of a child something more than a likeness, is to make a picture that is interesting to any who may look at it - this is true art. This is exemplified in the old paintings - for instance the Baby Stuart, or in some of the modern paintings by Sargeant or Cecelia Beaux. Are these not beautiful portraits, and also pictures that we would all
Photos by A. S DUDLEY.
Illustration N Examples of child Portraiture in the Home
See Paragraph '
Child Portraiture by the Ordinary Window. 353 desire to own? If you study these paintings you cannot fail to be inspired by their true spirit of the master. These artists have studied children, and have painted, in the blossom of youth, real flesh and blood. To be sure, most of these painters have had charming subjects, but a most uninteresting child can be placed in an atmosphere that will surround it with beauty.
646. We have seen this exemplified in the photographs of a few years ago, compared with a picture that a modern pictorialist would make. In looking through the old family album, the pictures suggest an entire lack of atmosphere. In real life the child would be doing something, or at its play, not held fast to a chair by an invisible device. It must have its toys, or be in the act of play. The right of every child is joy, and this joy is expressed in its play.
647. The first requisite in the photographer of children must be infinite patience. You must gain the child's confidence, and when it trusts you, the way is easy. No rule can be laid down by which you can gain this confidence, for every child is different. Some children are more easily managed when you are alone with them, but babies and "two year olds" are at their best when in their mothers' arms. The most useful seat for photographing children is a piece of furniture copied after the old style kitchen settle; this can also be converted into a table. As a seat it is wide, and over the back different backgrounds can be introduced. It can readily be moved on casters, and when not in use is a decorative piece of furniture. (See Illustration No. 87.)
648. Arrange, your picture first; that is, if you desire the child to build with blocks, sit and build with him. Let him push the house over and start again. This time tell him to build a larger house, or suggest a seat for doliy on top of the blocks. You will soon have the child so interested that he will forget everything but the blocks. This gives you time to focus, and make a few snaps as he plays. A word or two will bring his little face around to hear you, and a funny looking dog or "what-not," fitting on the lens, will cause a smile, and a front face that is full of interest. The picture book, a game of ball, or blowing bubbles, are a few suggestions that will win the most indifferent child. Use plenty of plates. The cost is small, and few parents can resist the many expressions. Other characteristic child studies are shown in Illustration No. 87a.
Stock Solution A.
Stock Solution B.
Sulphite of Soda...........................
Stock Solution C.
Carbonate of Soda.........................
To develop, take three ounces of A, B and C. Mix well in 240 ounces of water.
654. The great advantage of using tank development is the slow action of the developer on the negative. If you use a light-tight rubber box with a lid, such as is sold by photographic dealers, you are able to develop 24 5 x 7 or 12 8 x 10 plates at a time, and can leave them for a period of forty or fifty minutes while you attend to other matters.
655. As far as possible, all shading of light dresses, etc., should be made under the light. Movable screens for this purpose are now on the market.