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.
Practice Work. Of all subjects the juvenile requires the greatest amount of attention to produce natural, characteristic portraiture. Usually more or less awkward, they require considerable patience to properly pose. Do not attempt to accomplish too much with first experiments. Rather master one point well than strive to cover all and meet with total failure. First, attention should be directed toward obtaining a natural, easy position. With this accomplished, the second step should be directed toward securing good composition (good lines, etc.); the third consideration being natural expression.
495. With the experience gained by this time, providing all previous instruction has been carefully followed in a practical way, you will be sufficiently trained in the technical work to instinctively do the right thing without effort. Therefore, the principal attention from this time forth should be directed to the artistic side of portrait making. Aim first for natural position; second, good composition, and third, natural expression. With this accomplished, and through your acquired knowledge of technique, good portraits should be the result of your efforts.
496. Apply first experiments to one subject, working carefully and thoughtfully, suggesting different positions for him to assume. When the position that seems most natural and easy is presented, without further attempt at improvement make a negative of it. Then, with the subject in the same position, observe the composition. Are the lines good? Does the position give good drawing to the figure? Will the projecting of one or the other of the elbows assist in breaking straight lines? With the subject leaning forward or backward, is the drawing improved without interference with the ease and naturalness of the position? Will a small fold in the coat (if the clothes ire of light color) break up the solid mass of plainness? Will the introduction of a minor accessory assist in the balancing of the picture? Will a different background give more atmosphere and blend better with the subject? Will the further diffusion of the light on the drapery, with the diffusing screen, holding these portions in a lower key, improve the results? Or, will a broader light give better effects?
497. Consider these points, and when an improvement upon the first sitting has been obtained make another exposure, and finally with the subject in the same or similar position, make a special effort at characteristic expression. Employ means suitable to the subject to interest and cause him to forget his surroundings - become normally natural - and be himself. Then the right word or remark from you at the moment of exposure should result in developing the desired expression.
498. A good practice is to endeavor to control the expression of the subject by that of your own. If a more smiling countenance is desired, assume the required smile yourself, and if, on the contrary, a more sober expression wanted, calm yourself and by conversing with the subject he will follow your expression instinctively. When the desired point is reached make the exposure.