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.
Children. Another matter for consideration is in reference to children. They compose an element of difficulty when included in any group, and the difficulty increases with the number introduced, because, unless the exposure is very short, one or more of the subjects is sure to move. They must, however, be arranged in the best way possible; being small they will often advantageously fill up and hide awkward gaps.
General Position Of Group With Reference To Camera And Light. In order to secure as even an illumination as possible, the group should be arranged crosswise of the light, and partly facing it. If more than six persons compose the group they should be placed in a semi-circle, so that the end figures will be as near the camera as the central figure. It is generally advisable to diffuse the light on the subjects nearest the window with a diffusing screen, or a section of the diffusing curtains on the skylight - anything that will assist in supplying even illumination. If there is sufficient space in which to place the members nearest the light back from the window a few feet, there will be no need to diffuse the light to any great extent. It may be necessary to stop the lens somewhat, but do not stop down more than is required to obtain general sharpness throughout the group. The exposure for groups will be at least four times as long as that required when making single portrait studies, owing to the necessity of using a smaller stop.
Illustration No. 67. Group Construction-Seven and Eight Figures.
See Paragraph No. 533.
Illustration No. 68. Group Construction-Family Group.
See Paragraph No. 542.
Position Of The Body. The position of the body, with reference to the face, is also an important matter. Slender persons should have the body turned from the light whenever possible, if the face is posed for a Plain Lighting effect, while the reverse is the rule with a stout person. If a Rembrandt Lighting is desired, the body of a heavily built person should be turned from the light, while that of a slender person is turned toward the illumination.
Good Drawing. Good drawing is as essential to the production of a group as in a single portrait. The pyramidal arrangement, it has been demonstrated, is most simple to handle, producing the best drawing with the least effort. Too great emphasis cannot be laid upon the excellent opportunity afforded in groups for individual posing. Each subject must be in sympathy with the other members, taking an easy, natural position. If, after having arranged a group, some of the subjects appear to be awkwardly placed, failing to assume an easy position, change them from a standing to a sitting position, or vice versa, and it will generally be found that as a result of the rearrangement they will be more natural.
541. The location of the principal subjects in family groups differs materially from that of any other group. The father and the mother should occupy a position at, or near, the ends. Around the mother may be grouped the daughters, while the sons should be given a position near the father. The interest is, of course, divided in such a group, but the most attention should center around the mother. As girls usually dress in light-colored garments, the attraction is, of necessity, to the lighter objects.
542. In arranging the group shown in Illustration No. 68, the mother was first seated, the daughter being given a standing position at the back, and a trifle to one side. The son was then seated to the right of the mother, and a perfect group of three formed. An estimate was next made as to the amount of space to be filled by the remaining subjects. The father was then placed in position, with one of the sons on the arm of his chair. The elder son was next seated between the father and the mother, the other two young men being given standing positions at the rear, to fill up the two vacant spaces. The boy was then placed to fill the remaining gap in front.
543. Particular attention should be paid to the manner in which the lights and darks have been distributed. The principal attention is drawn to the mother; the daughter with her white waist and the son in his light clothes making this end of the group the most prominent. The coats worn by the other subjects have been opened to varying degrees, to expose the white vests in such a manner as to give proper balance to the picture.
544 By covering certain figures in this group, it will be seen that it is possible to still have perfectly constructed individual groups. The figures to the left of the straight line A, as well as to the left of straight line C, form perfect groups; while the figures to the right of the dotted lines B, D, and E also constitute perfect group formations.
545. This is but one method of group construction, but it is the one most universally employed. Always aim to have perfect pyramidal forms in the construction at every stage, which will insure the whole group being correct in construction.
546. The hands are frequently difficult to deal with. Very seldom is it advisable to have the backs of the hands facing straight forward. There are cases, however, when it is permissible to deviate slightly from this rule. Notice carefully the various positions of the hands in this particular group, as they form an excellent study. Wherever it is possible to hide a hand without causing the subject to appear awkward, do so. The hands of the subjects nearest the camera, however, should, in the majority of cases, be visible, it being a difficult matter to hide them and not cause a cut-off effect. Do not pose the hands in a side view, and avoid having any two hands arranged exactly alike.
Illustration No. 69. Group Construction-Two Heads.
See Paragraph No. 547.
Illustration No. 70 Group Construction-Heads See Paragraph No. 547.