During family photography sittings in our Epsom studio, we often get asked to photograph a range of different styles to offer a wide choice for the subsequent product and print selection. We are more than happy to do this, but we do ask clients to inform us in advance if they have any strong preferences on photography style.
Labelling small differences in photography styles can sometimes be superficial, but there are some broad genres in studio photography that are sometimes useful to think about. Most people understand the difference between colour and black and white, but not always the distinction between high key and low key photography.
High key photography in the studio usually refers to the use of a brightly-lit white background. In more technical terms it’s about lower contrast or lower lighting ratios. Although the images are often vibrant, the lighting is normally bright and even. This type of photographic style is good for photographing groups of people in a contemporary, informal and relaxed way. The studio photographer does not have to worry too much about posing (say) a family in a strict or formal fashion in order to ensure that everyone’s faces are nicely lit. Instead the photographer can concentrate on expressions and the relationship between the sitters. Similarly, high key photography has advantages when photographing small, mobile toddlers who do not always share the same agenda as their parents. The photographer can concentrate on their mood, expression and reassurance (and sometimes reasoning!).