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.
Position Of The Subject. The position of the body will depend entirely upon the subject. If a fleshy person is being photographed it will be found desirable to lengthen the appearance of the neck as much as possible, and to accomplish this have the body turned considerably toward the light and leaning slightly forward, the face, of
"JANET" Study No. 12-See Page 577, Vol. VIII Mary Carnell course, remaining in its proper position. This will tend to raise the head over the shoulders, while if the reverse position were taken, the head would be drawn down and set into the shoulders to a marked degree. This latter position, however, is the one to employ when the subject has a long neck, as it will very materially shorten its appearance. Stout subjects usually appear to better advantage when photographed in a standing position, even when the bust alone is desired.
Placing The Background. After the subject has been properly lighted and posed, next give attention to the background. It should be placed at least three feet from the subject, so as to be out of focus. Always be sure that the subject is well centered in front of it. As a rule, the end of the ground farthest from the skylight should be turned toward the light when making Plain Portrait Lightings. By turning it away from the source of light a darker background will be obtained, as the ground will cast a shadow on itself, and thus be in a much lower key of light. If the background is placed too near the subject, it will be too sharp, and the portrait will lack roundness or atmosphere. When using a blended background place it so the light side will come directly behind the shadow side of the face, which will, of course, bring the dark portion back of the light side of the face. This will produce a strong outline of the head, but in using the shaded ground it is essential that it be as far from the subject as possible, for, even though slightly out of focus, it is usually difficult to secure as much blending between the light and the dark of the ground as desired.
Position Of The Camera. In Plain Portrait Lightings the camera is placed near the light, the subject a little farther away. In fact, when attempting to secure a three-quarter view of the face the camera is moved toward the skylight until the ear on the shadow side of the face is just out of sight. For a front view, the camera should be placed to show an equal proportion of both ears. Of course, the face should be turned properly with reference to the source of light; i.e., the tip of the shadow cast by the nose should just blend with the shadow of the cheek, and the catch-light on the eye should be in its proper location.