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.
Men's Portraits. Men are usually poor subjects for standing pictures. As a rule they appear to better advantage sitting; but if standing, and often when seated, a two-thirds figure should be chosen, as it is quite difficult to arrange the feet and lower limbs satisfactorily. Besides, the three-quarter figure will be larger, better proportioned, and more suitable to men. As previously stated, allow the subject to assume an easy, natural position in an appropriate chair which the photographer may select, with only an occasional suggestion as to the position of the hands or feet.
See Paragraph No. 383.
Illustration No. 42 Examples of Figure Posing See Paragraph No. 384.
380. The selection of a chair is of considerable importance, as one which might be perfectly suitable to one subject, may look entirely out of place for another. For instance, with ladies and children, a light, fancy or upholstered chair is appropriate, but such would hardly be in keeping for a man's portrait. For a man a heavy oak chair, plain or slightly carved, will be more suitable. The height of the seat in the chair has much to do with the ease of the position of the subject. For example, a low-seated chair is more suitable for a short subject, while for a tall person a higher seat should be employed.
381. A good rule to follow is to have the upper part of the leg slant towards the knee. If the knee is higher than the limb, the subject will look cramped and appear uncomfortable as well as unnatural. Men who are of slender form usually appear best with their knees crossed. Short, stout men should sit near the edge of the chair, permitting a downward slant to the limbs, which gives them a more slender appearance.
382. Clergymen are best photographed two-thirds figure standing, as they are usually gowned in frock coat and the garment hangs much better when the subject is standing than if seated. If the sitting position is given, a high-back chair should be employed. The carriage of the man has much to do with the selection of position which will truly represent the subject.
Examples Of Figure Posing - Women. In Illustration No. 41 is presented a full length figure of a rather short, stout person of good figure. In this picture the subject presents the appearance of a woman of average height. Observe how this subject was handled. With the body turned to the side a pleasing view of the figure is presented, and, with one hand falling naturally behind, just sufficient to show the hand, and with the elbow bent, a full view of the form is secured. To add more grace to the pose the skirt is carelessly brought to the front in folds, not only supplying good lines to the skirt, but also adding height to the subject. Observe the left hand. It rests carelessly on the back of the chair, supplying an easy, natural pose for the hand, and at the same time breaking up the straight line of the skirt. The slight tip of the head gives style and dash to the picture.
384. In Fig. C, Illustration No. 42, is shown a tall. stately woman in street costume. Observe the simple manner in which the gown is gathered - quite natural in a walking attitude. By bending the elbow slightly, tin-straight line that would exist if the arm hung straight from the shoulder was not only broken, but a better view of the figure presented, as well. With the other arm dropped straight a natural position was obtained, while with the lace on the sleeves brought forward the straight line on that side of the figure has been broken. With head erect the subject presents a natural walking attitude, one always interesting and pleasing.
385. In Fig. C, Illustration No. 43, is shown a simple position for a full length figure of a lady in opera garb. The position, you will observe, is restful, the subject sitting on the edge of the settee at an angle to the camera. The opera cape falling naturally over the shoulders, with one end thrown over the arm of the settee, breaks up the straight line. Note the ease with which the left hand rests from the arm, while the right hand is dropped carelessly in the lap and partly covered by a portion of the cape. The wrap carelessly falling over the settee breaks the straight line of the skirt, completing a well balanced and characteristic pose of the subject.
386. In Fig. A, Illustration No. 42, is exhibited a two-thirds standing figure, which in pose and attitude is simplicity itself. Observe the natural and becoming position of the hands, the erectness of the figure, the arrangement of the streamers from the hat, the gentle side-tipping of the head, all of which combined with the expression on the face, denote simplicity itself.
Illustration No. 43 Examples of Figure rosing See Paragraph No. 385.
Illustration No. 44. Figure Posing-Evening Dress.
See Paragraph No. 389.
387. In Fig. B, Illustration No. 42, a very simple pose for a two-thirds figure is represented. This subject, being rather tall, appears best with but two-thirds of the figure shown - either standing or sitting. Observe that the position, while quite erect, is pleasing. Note how the skirt is gathered about the sitter so as to project slightly over the chair, breaking up the mass of black. At the same time, sufficient of the black chair is visible to break the curved line of the figure and give relief to the mass of white. Observe the simple, easy position of the hands, resting carelessly in the lap.
388. In Fig. B, Illustration No. 43, we present the same subject in a two-thirds standing figure. Good lines are given to the slender form by the mere gathering of the skirts in a manner that supplies breadth, and by bending the arm gently the good form of the subject is retained.
389. In Illustration No. 44, another subject in opera garb is reproduced. In this figure our purpose is to illustrate a manner of breaking lines, without the aid of furniture or background accessories, but merely by arranging the light on the drapery. The figure is seated, with the knees crossed, leaning with one arm over the back of an ordinary chair which is not in view. With the subject sitting at an angle to the camera, with the left hand gently gathering the opera cape over the far shoulder, a natural position has been provided for the hand, and at the same time good lines have been given to this side of the figure, while by means of the cape drawn over the right shoulder and thrown into deep shadow different lines have been formed. With the right hand gathering the skirt of the coat in a gentle pose, a good position for this hand and an easy position for the subject have been supplied. The light concentrated upon the subject has accentuated the shadows and given more prominence to the outline of the figure, thus supplying the lines without accessories. If the hands are of good form and are to appear prominently, they may be clasped in front, either in a sitting or standing position. They should be intertwined loosely, with the wrist and fingers gracefully curved. In Illustration No. 45 we present a few examples of hand posing.